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I have always driven small cars and when expecting my second child I knew my little Clio was not going to survive or handle the future. My other half had previously bought a car at a city used car dealership and told me that they were really good and friendly. The two cars I have had in the past were bought with the help of my father and now I was on my own. Silly but true I hadn't a clue what to do or what I needed to look for. It took me a good couple of months before I had put pen to paper and the list of things I needed from a car was made. I had to be quite precise as I knew that once I had purchased a car that would be it for the next lord knows how many years. I have to say whenever I looked at the MPV or family cars my heart dropped and I think I might have even died a little inside! I'm not sure if it's just me but the thought of being a 'soccer mum' didn't appeal to me.
On a trip to my local farmers market I passed a Ford dealership and saw in the forecourt a car that seemed very nice. I pulled into the dealership to have a closer inspection. I got the key off of one of the staff members who told me it was a model called the Focus C-Max. I jumped into the car to see what it had to offer. This particular one was second-hand and had a bit of damage to it but I was able to see what features this model could offer me. I sat first in the driver seat. My other half has a Ford Focus and as the C-Max is a Focus on steroids it felt very similar. The dash wasn't too in your face as many these days can be. After spending a few minutes getting a feel for the auto I allowed my son to jump in the back to give me his opinion. The back middle seat folds down to make a table between the two side seats and thus he was sold.
The next weekend I made my way to the big used car centre as the internet site showed that they had a good number of C-Max cars to have a look at. This was my chance to really see if this was the car for me. I was armed with my son, other half and a list of must-haves.
Firstly the car had to be in my price range. The ones I was looking at were 2004-2006 models and between £5,000 and £7,000. The maximum my budget would allow was £6, 200.
I walked around for a bit looking at what the cars themselves to see what kind of shape they were in as they were of course second-hand. Looking at price and general exterior looks my search was narrowed down to three cars. One was a diesel and the other two petrol. Diesels provide eye-catching mpg (miles per gallon) figures, but all models offer good economy. Eco-conscious buyers should consider the 90bhp 1.6-litre diesel, which is one of the greenest models in the range emitting 119g/km of CO2 (making it cheap to tax) and returning 60mpg. Now I'm not especially 'green' but I can handle cheap tax! I already
knew from my other half that Ford servicing was reasonable and we have a big servicing centre near our house so quite convenient.
Going back to my car search. I have narrowed my search to three C-Max's. I got all the keys to have a better look. The first one I sat in had quite a few smoke related burns to the seats so that one was written off my list, the next had a very odd looking hand brake which Ford have since stopped making but I have to say it did put me off buying that one. Now onto the third one which was soon to be the car that comes home two days later.
Called a MAV (Multi Activity Vehicle) and not an MPV as it is not as big. The car looks very much like the Focus it was modelled off of. Very slick, stylish lines with an elegant one-piece bumper adding to its visual appeal. The rear has a subtle spoiler added just above the rear window which I thought was a cute extra that gave it a bit of a sporty feel.
The steering wheel is leather with silver accents. Easily adjustable to many heights so good for any driving position. Very good for us as I'm a shorty and my other half is over 6 foot. This car is higher off the ground and compared to my previous cars it was easy to get in and out of. Especially as by this time I was 7 months pregnant and getting in and out of any type of chair was causing issues. You can see that there has been real attention to detail. On the dash there is an extra storage space for maps and such. The glove box is spacious and even has a little holder built in for a pen which I can't even tell you how good that is for me.
Performance ... To be honest I am not overly knowledgeable about cars but from my point of view as a driver I have no complaints about this cars performance. Shortly after buying it we made a family trip to Cornwall for a wedding and the car drove like a dream. I had been told that the 1.6 litre models when filled up and made heavier can struggled on hills and such but I didn't notice it struggle any more then any other car I have driven. I don't know how you measure a good turning circle but compared to my last car the kerb-to-kerb is really good!
One concern I had was being able to drive a car that was not big but compared to my previous cars huge. I was afraid of not knowing how wide the car was and if I'd be able to park. It did take me a few days to get the hang of the width of the car but I think that is normal with any new car. As for parking I haven't had any trouble (so far, touch wood). The model I got has rear parking sensors which I have to admit are so handy. I can forget everything I learnt about parking as the car now tells me what to do. There are a number of back roads where I live and the C-Max seems to glide over the rough terrain. My son used to grip the door on these roads! When on the motorway the engine is relatively quiet and wind noise is minimal.
Mine has the heated front windscreen which rocks! After such a cold winter it has really been put to use. It only takes a couple of minutes just like the rear defrost. Shaves a few minutes off my morning rush to get the kid to school. When the heating is set to blow on the front windscreen it has two vents that face the side windows which is good but it takes a little too long to do its magic. In other cars to clear the window a bit I would wind the window down and then back up again but for some reason when you do that on this car it makes no difference. Almost as if the window doesn't touch anything on the way down or up.
As mentioned before we took a trip to Cornwall just after buying the car. The seats themselves were really comfy. Usually my back is in knots by the halfway stop for food but I was ok this time, nice change.
Practicality ... The big thing people are saying is that there is no seven seat option. If you need seven seats then this isn't the car for you (Try the S-Max). The C-Max however I found brilliant. I have a larger then normal buggy and it fits in the boot easily and along with it I can fit a weeks food shopping for four people and yet still have some room left. On our trip to Cornwall almost everything fit into the boot so my son didn't have anything balanced on him this time.
Equipment ... There are a few different looks to the interior and it will mostly depend on which model C-Max you choose. There is Studio, LX, Style, Zetec, Titanium and Ghia. I have the Zetec (05) and the interior is black and charcoal. All models get driver's, passenger's, and side curtain airbags, Isofix child seat anchors, an immobiliser, remote central locking, electric windows, height adjustable steering wheel and a heated rear window.
I have two different child car seats; A 0+/0 and a booster for a 5 year old. The booster easily fits into any car so no problem there. The other car seat is a little trickier. I got the car seat that fits onto my Graco Quattro buggy. It is pretty standard in size. I went to a local children's store and purchased one of those car seat bases so that I wouldn't have to strap the baby seat in every journey. It makes life so much easier when you can just pop the car seat onto the base, click it into place and go. My only problem arose when I was having the base fitted to the car. Just below your feet in the back of the car are two under floor storage areas. Very handy for putting handheld games machines out of site but the car seat base has a leg that must be fixed to a main bit of floor. My other half and I thought I wasn't going to be able to use it and the children's store was saying it "wasn't advisable". We fit it into place anyway to see what it would be like and the leg of the base actually doesn't sit on top of the floor storage top. Hooray! I was so happy. I had been thinking of ways to fill that storage area but now I can use it and have the base in place which is brilliant.
There are a few extras that mine has which have come in handy. As previously mentioned there is the heated front window which I love, fog lights, a 12v socket in the boot (we used it to power a Halfords mini food fridge on our trip), full size spare tyre, alloys, parking sensors and detachable towbar. There are a number of radios available for all models. I have the basic CD one which is perfect. I don't need anything more. For reference if you were to replace the radio the space is called a double DIN as it is large. Sony is one of the companies that make radios to fit.
The cup holders are in a middle of the two front seats and is a good shape to hold most things. The only things that don't sit properly are cola bottles. They stay put, but not brilliantly. To solve this they fit perfectly in the side of the door, problem solved.
The bonnet locks into place using the key which gives me something less to worry about as the bonnet of my Clio flew up into the front window on the motorway! Just another thing that went wrong with that car.
Safety ... A four-star Euro NCAP crash test rating can't be a bad thing! Standard is the dual front airbags and ABS (Anti-Lock Braking System) and some of the models also have the side impact airbags. For security parts are marked and windows etched with codes to be easily identified as belonging to the car and on some models a standard Ford alarm is available.
Running costs & Green credentials ... "Reports to parkers.co.uk about reliability and build quality are mostly positive. The previous generation Focus hatchback won a German reliability survey and the hatchback, estate and saloon versions of both the first and second generation Focus models have proved very durable." - www.Parkers.co.uk
Estimated fuel cost for 10,000 miles/year: £900 to £1575
It costs me £5 a tank less to fill this car up then it did to fill my old Clio up. I'm never going to argue with that!
Disadvantages ... This first one won't bother most people but the lovely people at Haynes who advise me how to change lights, washer fluid and various other things have not yet made a manual for this car. I always like having a book like this in the boot just in case I need it and also so that I can perform the little car check-ups every so often. I have sent an e-mail to the company and apparently they are working on one at the moment so hopefully not long now before they publish it. As mentioned before the car seat base posed a slight issue at first.
New price range: £14,550 - £22,040 Used price range: £2,496 - £13, 393