Ford’s new 1.5-litre seven-seater tries to steal the hearts of petrolhead daddies with its driveability and day-to-day practicality.

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Ford’s new 1.5-litre seven-seater tries to steal the hearts of petrolhead daddies with its driveability and day-to-day practicality.

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THIS is the junior MPV model positioned below Ford’s new S-Max (pg 86).

The Grand C-Max is based on the Focus, the American automaker’s international model available in various flavours, with the triple-chocolate version being the 350bhp Focus RS (also new to town).

Too bad the Grand C-Max looks like vanilla. Plain vanilla, without any toppings… in a simple white cup, with a flimsy wooden spoon.

Even the blueberry blue paintwork of the demo car fails to lift the styling, which rides on the thin line between ugly and ungainly.

Admittedly, it’s a tricky job to make a compact three-row people-carrier look stylish (just look at BMW’s 2 Series Gran Tourer), because the interior dictates the exterior. The occupants sitting inside the multi-purpose vehicle are the priority, not the observers standing outside and commenting on the unattractive appearance of the MPV in question.

The Grand C-Max isn’t grander than the C-Max (not on sale here); just 140mm longer in wheelbase and length, and 60mm taller. If anything, the “Grand” upsize has made the C-Max appear more awkward.

But the way this Ford moves isn’t awkward at all. In fact, it’s dexterous, changing direction like an upsized Focus runabout and responding with torquey energy that contradicts its MPV makeup.

This is a warm hatchback in the guise of a stone cold people-carrier.

Its 1.5-litre turbo engine accelerates with enthusiasm, and its 6-speed automatic gearbox (with leather-trimmed knob) reacts quickly. Select S mode and the 6-speeder is even more reactive, making the performance punchier.

That’s with up to three passengers on board, who might find the ride on those 215/55 R16 Bridgestones unusually quick and tight.

With a full complement of seven folks on board, the ride is likely to be less quick, but it’ll probably still be tight.

The way the car corners and steers is “wrong” for a familyfriendly MPV, which is supposed to suffer more body roll than its occupants’ bodies, steer with general disinterest and hold on to the tarmac for dear life.

The Ford does the opposite – its body movements are well controlled, its steering is honestly interested in the proceedings, and its passengers are the ones holding on for dear life as the car dashes from point to point.

Such antics, however, are not in any MPV user’s manual, which would have most of its pages dedicated to the versatile interior.

In the case of this MPV with sliding rear doors, the second row has excellent headroom and legroom for two to three adults, with the “airspace” overhead visually expanded by the panoramic glass roof.

However, the third person in the middle should be skinny, because he/she sits on a narrow slab of cushion less cushy than the other two seats alongside.

The standard upholstery is cloth, with a texture that has a certain industrial chic, but the light beige colour would get dirty easily.

According to the Ford dealer, 30 percent of Grand C-Max buyers so far didn’t choose the retrofit-leather option.

Knowing Singaporeans’ preference for cowhide, even the cheap synthetic kind, I expected none of the buyers to stick with the original fabric.

There are seatback trays, pockets and door-panel cupholders for the secondrow occupants, plus their own air-con vents at the centre.

The third row has storage boxes, cupholders and 12- volt power outlets, but no extra air-con vents, and it’s rather cramped.

So, the only living things that should be parked in row C of the C-Max are small adults, smaller children and even smaller pets.

As for the boot, it can store maybe a pair of boots with the third-row seats deployed.

But stowing those seats will liberate as much cargo room as in the Focus estate. And the tailgate is motorised to make trunk access even easier. From behind the wheel, the dashboard’s layout would be familiar to anyone who has driven a Ford lately, apart from the additional air-con outlets just above the climate control panel.

The infotainment system offers an 8-inch touchscreen with a nice mix of colours and a useful set of features that include voice control, but the submenu navigation for the primary and in-dash displays could be faster.

There are numerous buttons and functions, but the driver can master them soon enough.

Some of the functions are a surprise in this price bracket – adaptive cruise control, adaptive bi-xenon headlamps, automated parking and collision mitigation.

Surprising, too, is how well-lit the glovebox compartment and front doorbins are in the dark.

Petrolhead daddies, hold your horses! Wait for our Torque comparison of the Ford Grand C-Max and new Volkswagen Touran.

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The second row can be a threeseater, or a two-seater with an aisle, and the conversion is easily done.

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ENGINE 1498cc, 16-valves, inline-4, turbocharged.

MAX POWER 150bhp at 6000rpm.

MAX TORQUE 240Nm at 1600-4000rpm.

POWER TO WEIGHT 104.7bhp per tonne.

GEARBOX 6-speed automatic with manual select.

0-100KM/H 10.5 seconds.

TOP SPEED 199km/h.

CONSUMPTION 14.7km/L (combined).

CO2 EMISSION 154g/km.

PRICE INCL. COE $136,888 (no CEVS rebate/surcharge).

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This Ford’s styling will leave entire families cold, but its performance will warm their hearts.

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