Long term report: Ford B-Max

I could start this with a cliché about how "good things coming in small packages". Or perhaps something about our new long termer being able to "punch above its weight". Or even go as far as talking about "David versus Goliath". But I won't, because that would all just be a little bit rubbish.

Instead, I'm going to wax lyrical for about the next seven to eight paragraphs about what is, quite simply, one of the best cars we've had on test for months. Years, even.

It's quite the claim, I know, but this dinky little Ford B-Max with its equally miniscule 1.0-litre Ecoboost engine, possibly from a very refined lawnmower, is one car that really does punch above its... hang on, nearly got caught out there.

Anyway, I've forgotten my manners: Let me introduce you to the newest member of our fleet – EK62 OZA. A diminutive Ford B-Max in Postman Pat van red.

But forget the dog appendage colour scheme for a moment, because it's that tiny powerplant that really needs some attention. The award-winning lump – built in Britain no less – is small enough to fit on a piece of A4 paper. It's got just three cylinders, yet manages to produce an impressive 117bhp and 200Nm of torque. It's enough to see it hit 60mph in 11.2 seconds, not far off what my 1.6-litre E-reg Fiesta XR2 does it in.

I've taken to playing a little game with passengers and asking them – after a few rally stage traffic light getaways – to have a stab at how many cubic centimetres are hauling us along the road.

One said 2.0-litre diesel, another 1.6-litre turbo and most settle for a 1.4. Ok, so the first one came from my mum who's about as mechanically minded as a shrew and thinks her Ford Ka is a hybrid because it's got a 12v socket, but still, pretty impressive that no one guessed our baby B-Max was lacking centimetres under the bonnet.

I love the thrum of the little three pot and it's by far and away one of the best 1.0-litre units out there. It's led to some impressive fuel economy too. Ok, I've been averaging about 45mpg (the combined official figure is 57.7mpg), but then I have been a little lead footed. Ok, maybe it's been less of the "little" and more of the "lottle", but still I'm happy with its allergy to Shell.

It has also impressed a few football mates. Despite my grey hairs and "granddad" nickname, I have a bit of street cred "wiv da kidz", because of my constant car swapping. One even asked if I was a car thief, which sort of says more about my footballing colleagues than me. Anyway, even they were impressed when I rocked up in the B-Max.

"That's that B-Max you can dive through innit," said one. Shows TV advertising still has some life left in it... and that it's possibly being targeted at the wrong audience.

Anyway, enough of me prattling on, down to some hard-and-fast likes and loathes.

I'm loving the stereo system, which is fiddly at first – the dash looks like the designer sneezed while placing buttons – but you get used to it, and the Sync system is brilliant.

Music from my phone streams perfectly, the Bluetooth hands-free kit is superb and even directions from Google Maps running on my mobile are relayed through the speakers. Useful.

The interior is spot on too. The driving position is comfortable, the seats supportive, and those sliding rear doors are a stroke of genius.

Ok, Ford weren't the first to think of them, but I'm sure glad they borrowed the idea (answers on a postcard as to which was the first car maker to use them). The doors make loading mini Baggott into the back easier, even when she's doing her best impression of an octopus about to be boiled in a pan. And the boot is a decent size too.



Complaints? Well, so far they're pretty non-existent – and that's not because I'm trying to keep Ford happy because they've lent us a car. It's because there's very few things for me – and if you know me, you'll know this is unusual – to have a grumble about.

Ok, if I'm pushed it's the lack of a button on the doors to lock them when the keyless go fob is in your pocket. Hardly likely to lead to divorce proceedings is it? I'm sure as time goes on – and the honeymoon period ebbs away – more moans will surface, but for now I can't think of a better compact family car.

It really is a case of David versus... oh bum, I'm at it again!

First drive review: Ford B-Max

The Knowledge
Model: Ford B-Max Titanium
Price: £18,720 (as tested)
Engine: 1.0-litre EcoBoost, three cylinder
Power: 117bhp, 200Nm
Max speed: 117mph
0-60mph: 11.2s
Emissions: 139g/km
Mileage: 1,012
Costs this month: £0