Ford has been talking about its radical new B-Max small MPV – the first full five seater to have no central pillar between the front and rear doors, and about its predecessor, the unloved Fusion.
In a piece of refreshing honesty, Ford UK's Managing Director, Mark Ovenden, said, "I will admit that the Fusion could have been better in terms of style, but it had a 1 per cent market share, and most of our competitors would die for volumes like that. And it was phenomenally successful in Russia." The funny thing about the Fusion is that everyone treated it as a failure, but it actually did sell well – albeit to the parents (or sometimes grandparents) of the people its deluded advertising was aimed at.
The new B-Max is a very different animal. Ford says that observers were sent out to shopping centres and schools, to watch owners strapping in children and loading up the shopping. They then fed the information they had gathered to a UK-based Innovation Team tasked with making the B-Max the most practical small car on the market.
The resulting pillarless design certainly makes it easier to strap children into the rear, but Ford insists it does not compromise safety. Indeed, the B-Max is said to be stiffer than the Fiesta and Ford is sure it will get a five-star safety rating.
The B-Max goes on sale in October. There is an entry-level Studio model at £12,995, while the mid-range Zetec versions which are expected to account for 60% of sales start at £15,600. Pick of the range is likely to be the 1.0 Ecoboost petrol, an engine that already sparkles in the Focus.