Ford is betting on the compact vehicle, so much so it plans to offer 10 different models based on its new compact car platform, which underpins the upcoming 2012 Focus. The latest of these is the 2011 Ford C-MAX, which will compete in the MPV segment alongside the Mazda5.
Ford doesn’t call it an MPV, however, but a ‘white space’ vehicle – whatever that means. In Europe this car is actually called the Grand C-MAX, with the regular C-MAX model featuring just five seats.
While MPVs are popular in Europe, they’ve yet to catch on here, despite clever packaging that delivers excellent fuel economy, plenty of passenger and cargo room and a drive quality that’s engaging.
As a 5+2 seater the C-MAX has one more seat than the Mazda, with a second row that includes a center seat which folds out from one of the side seats. Total cargo room is rated at 70.2 cubic feet.
With a standard 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine making 168-hp and 167 ft-lbs of torque, Ford will easily achieve best-in-class fuel economy thanks to an optional EcoBoost 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, which also boasts 168-hp as well as 173 ft-lbs of torque that’s available from just 1500 rpm. On premium fuel the EcoBoost motor makes 180-hp. Also helping in the fuel economy department is a six-speed automatic transmission and electric power steering.
Interested? But you haven’t even heard the best part. Always looking for innovative solutions to make life easier, even items like SYNC and the new MyFord Touch have nothing on the industry-first hands-free liftgate. That’s right, thanks to sensors in the bumper, as long as you have the keys in your pocket, just approach the vehicle, wave your foot under the car and the rear hatch opens up. (Why has no one thought of this before?)
Set to debut at the Detroit Auto Show in January, Ford has yet to release all the details on the C-MAX, but we can all but guarantee the EcoBoost model will cost a premium and items like the hands-free liftgate are certain to only be available on top trim models with a keyless access system and push-button ignition.
Check back for complete Detroit Auto Show coverage starting January 10th.
GALLERY: 2011 Ford C-MAX
Official release after the jump:
NEW Ford C-MAX: CLEVER, COMPACT VEHICLE to MOVE young families with flexibility, Fuel Efficiency
DEARBORN, Mich., Dec. 20, 2010 – The Ford C-MAX is an all-new, affordable transportation alternative for growing, busy North American families who crave industry-first technology, flexible seating and interior space, sporty performance and best-in-class fuel economy.
“The Ford C-MAX provides still more proof of how our One Ford plan continues to deliver the high-quality, fuel-efficient products people really want,” said Mark Fields, Ford’s president of The Americas. “C-MAX is just right for customers in North America seeking stylish, flexible transportation and life-enhancing technology that comes standard.”
The new C-MAX is part of Ford Motor Company’s global small vehicle strategy that will deliver at least 10 vehicles – and 2 million vehicles annually – from a single C-vehicle platform by 2012.
This new compact family vehicle introduces a host of unique features including an industry-exclusive hands-free power-operated rear liftgate, versatile 5+2 seating configuration with five seats in the main cabin and two smaller seats in the third row, twin sliding doors and active park assist, an advanced new system that automatically steers the vehicle into parallel parking spaces.
Performance with fuel economy
The new C-MAX also heralds the arrival of Ford’s first application of the all-new 1.6-liter EcoBoost™ I-4 engine in its North American C-class vehicles, delivering a combination of responsive performance with improved fuel economy and reduced CO2 emissions.
Developed for global applications, the lightweight, all-aluminum 1.6-liter Ford EcoBoost engine combines high-pressure direct injection, low-inertia turbocharging and twin independent variable camshaft timing (Ti-VCT) to achieve fuel economy results up to 20 percent better than naturally aspirated, larger-displacement gasoline engines with a similar power output. This new engine is expected to deliver the best available highway fuel economy for a seven-passenger vehicle.
The C-MAX base engine is a proven 2.5-liter iVCT I-4, optimized for small crossover application with plenty of low-end torque. Both engines are mated to Ford’s 6F35 automatic six-speed transmission with a gear ratio span allowing for responsive acceleration from rest yet fuel efficiency for around-town driving and steady cruising at speed.
“The scale and flexibility of our global new C-vehicle platform enables us to develop distinct vehicles including C-MAX,” said Derrick Kuzak, Ford group vice president of Global Product Development. “It’s a ‘white space’ vehicle here in North America – a new choice – and we believe buyers will appreciate the technology, convenience and functionality C-MAX packs into a neat package.”
C-MAX has a 109.7-inch wheelbase and an overall length of 178 inches, comparatively close to the original minivans offered in North America. C-MAX delivers room for up to seven passengers or five occupants with a generous amount of cargo.
The new model will solidify its appeal to customers that value comfortable accommodation, a high seating position, versatility and a “smart-sized” package.
C-MAX has bold exterior and interior designs created using the latest evolution of Ford’s kinetic design language and building on themes established in recent product introductions such as the Ford Fiesta and Focus ranges.
Maximum versatility and convenience
The seating concept and door layout for the 5+2 C-MAX was finalized after detailed research with typical family users to identify the most popular configurations.
The vehicle features twin sliding rear side doors and a clever new seat folding concept for second-row seats. The second-row seat is equipped with a unique mechanism that allows the middle seat position to fold quickly and easily under the right-hand seat, creating a handy walk-through space between the two outboard seats so passengers can easily access the third row, as well as two individual, bucket-like seats.
The second-row seats also have slide and recline functionality, adapting to multiple combinations of passenger seat positions and cargo capacity. Outboard second-row seats also have a tip-and-slide forward function for easy access to the third-row seats when the second row is used.
The third-row seats can be omitted as a delete option, for those buyers electing to forgo the 5+2 seating arrangement.
The C-MAX provides a raised “command bridge” cockpit with high-mounted gear shift and center console. The driver controls and displays incorporate available Ford SYNC® and MyFord Touch™, similar to the acclaimed layouts recently introduced in other Ford nameplates.
Dynamics and refinement
“This all-new model is set to take small crossover performance to a new level, giving drivers a class-leading combination of responsive, sporty handling, and overall refinement and quietness similar to the standard found in larger luxury vehicles,” said John Davis, chief engineer for the North American C-MAX.
Key chassis technologies on C-MAX include completely new electric power-assisted steering (EPAS), optimized new designs for the Control Blade multilink rear suspension and semi-isolated front subframe and standard new torque vectoring control to further improve cornering stability and agility.
Smart technology for safety and practicality
As the first derivatives to be launched from Ford’s new global C-car platform, C-MAX benefits from the introduction of an array of advanced technologies generally only found in larger, more premium vehicles.
Among these new technologies are a host of features that will add convenience and luxury for customers and their families. Key offerings include:
- Hands-free rear liftgate, an industry first: Ideal when carrying several packages, as the
C-MAX hands-free liftgate is activated by passing a leg motion under the rear bumper when the driver’s key fob is in his or her pocket
- Active park assist: Helps select an appropriate parking space, calculates the trajectory and steers to properly position the vehicle. All the driver need do is operate the accelerator and brake pedals
- Speed limiter: Prevents a driver from exceeding a preset speed
- Panoramic roof: Allows for an expansive roof opening
- HD Radio™: Enables clearer radio reception with crisper sound reproduction
- Rear view camera: Enhanced visibility for safer reversing
- Intelligent Access with push-button start: The key fob unlocks C-MAX as the driver approaches, and enables key-free engine starts at the push of an instrument panel-mounted button
- Heated sideview mirrors with integrated puddle lamps: Enhance cold weather visibility
In addition, C-MAX offers popular Ford technologies and features, such as:
- Easy Fuel® (capless fuel filler): Provides a tight seal and eliminates loose-fitting or lost caps
- Sony® Audio System: Specifically tuned to C-MAX cabin acoustics for superb sound reproduction
- Ambient lighting: Accent lighting in multiple colors, illuminating footwells and cupholders to harmonize with a driver’s mood
- Dual-zone electronic automatic temperature control: Maintains desired temperature setting throughout C-MAX cabin
- Sirius® Satellite Radio: Offers C-MAX driver and passengers a diverse range of radio programming choices
- Front and rear parking aid sensors: Help the driver properly position the vehicle when parking
- Navigation System: Provides intuitive touch-screen operation
Safety and security
Ford C-MAX is anticipated to be a segment safety leader, having recently been awarded a Euro NCAP five star rating by this independent safety rating organization. C-MAX achieved the highest score ever recorded for whiplash protection and excelled in both adult and child occupant safety. C-MAX offers drivers and families a full complement of standard safety features, including:
- AdvanceTrac® with RSC® (Roll Stability Control™) with curve control: Helps maintain consistent vehicle stability
- Dual front and side airbags with smart occupant sensor: Help fine-tune airbag deployment to occupant by size, weight and belt status
- First-, second- and third-row Safety Canopy® side-curtain airbags: Envelop passengers, helping to prevent head and upper body injury
- Tire Pressure Monitoring System: Notifies driver of inconsistent tire pressure
- Driver and passenger-side blind spot mirrors: Add visibility for blind spot areas
- Strong body architecture with extensive use of high-strength steels: Helps to add body strength and rigidity