It seems everyone is waiting none-to-patiently for the well-equipped and oddly successful but pig-ugly US-market Ford Focus to take a dirt nap in favor of the next generation global Focus. When it debuts at the 2010 Detroit Auto show, it'll be sitting atop the new C-platform, which the C-Max also rides on. The new Grand C-Max is the natural extension of product success in Europe, with a seven passenger layout confirmed for the US market and the commercial decision still up in the air over US-import of the non-Grand five passenger C-Max currently confirmed only in Europe.
Before we get too far into this whole exercise, a point on nomenclature, the car will definitely be called "Grand C-Max" for the European market, but a naming decision hasn't been reached for the US, we might be getting the "Focus C-Max" or some variation thereof, or an entirely unique name altogether. Anyway, back to business, let's talk greasy bits.
Under the Grand's bonnet there will be a selection of engines, the most notable in Europe being the latest iteration of the Ecoboost engine line, the 1.6-liter four-cylinder, generating somewhere in the neighborhood of 180 HP and 170 lb-ft of torque, coming in down low, at a mere 1500 RPM, with an odd localized peak at about 5000 RPM. Engine choices for the US market are not yet confirmed, but don't be surprised to see the 2.0-liter Ecoboost motor, with it's delightful 240 HP and 230 lb-ft of torque. Europe gets a 5-speed manual transmission common with the Focus, as well as an automatic, but US transmission choices weren't announced.
Inside the Grand C-Max comes out with both barrels blazing. High-quality leathers are available with nice French seams, a highly-stylized dash with a glossy black Sony sound system, Bluetooth, navigation, two information centers, dual zone climate control, and seating for seven. Seven? Yes. While we haven't had any seat time in the way-back, Ford's claiming seven actual humans fit into this slightly-longer-than-a-Focus vehicle. Well, maybe we should say Europeans rather than humans. The back seats do looks best suited to small children and grocery bags, but should you have a need for the last row, the Grand C-Max has a pretty neat trick to get you back there. The second row can fold forward like a normal minivan, but in this you have the option of a center bench or captains chairs without making any sacrifices. By using carefully honed skills in vehicular origami likely honed with the hard-top convertible Volvo C70, Fords imbued the center section of the center row seats with the ability to fold underneath the right side seat and still above the load floor. A pretty neat trick we'd like to see for ourselves, and then test to see if that center seat is comfortable for more than seven seconds of sitting time.
Of all that, the Grand C-Max's strongest selling point is probably its styling. In a world of two-box SUV's and boring as creamed spinach minivans, the Grand C-Max actually looks like something you might want to drive. Its styling is heavily influenced by the Iosis concept and it wears the latest iteration of Ford's popular kinetic design language. The deep trapezoidal grille, expressive headlights, sweeping hood and deeply sculptured sides give the Grand C-Max some solid visual appeal. And keep in mind, this thing does have two sliding doors, previously thought of as styling kryptonite.
Since it's based on the Focus platform, we're even holding out some degree of faith that this mini-minivan will actually take a corner with some authority. It'll be formally revealed at the Frankfurt Motor Show tomorrow, but look for the Grand C-Max to hit US shores late in 2011, so if you're interested, hurry up and wait.
ALL-NEW, 7-SEAT ford c-max To join north american lineup in 2011, building small car range.
Dearborn, Mich., Sept. 15, 2009 – Ford Motor Company has confirmed that the new 7-seat C-MAX introduced today at the Frankfurt Motor Show will arrive in North America beginning late 2011.
In North America, the "whitespace" vehicle will be one of up to 10 unique models the company will create from an all-new global C-car platform developed under its One Ford strategy.
The all-new, next-generation Ford Focus sedan and five-door hatchback models are scheduled to launch late in calendar year 2010 in the United States.
With the market introduction of the 7-seat C-MAX in late 2011, Ford will offer customers in North America three distinct models in the important compact segment, which is expected to show continued growth in the coming years.
According to Ford analysts, small cars in the B- and C-segments accounted for less than 15 percent of the U.S. market in 2004. In year-to-date sales through August 2009 however, the small car segment has reached nearly 22 percent of total industry sales – and further gains are expected.
"Consumers are seeking uncompromised vehicles offering value for the money, and C-MAX squarely hits those targets," said Derrick Kuzak, group vice president, Ford Global Product Development. "The Focus C-MAX will be great to look at, great to sit in and great to drive, bringing Ford DNA to a new market segment in the form of an aspirational, fuel-efficient people carrier."
Exterior design elevates segment
The new Ford Focus C-MAX demonstrates that compact, 7-seat vehicles can be stylish and desirable while still delivering outstanding space and functionality.
"The C-MAX brings more emotive, dynamic design to the segment, along with a great driving experience," said Mark Fields, Ford's president of The Americas. "People will gravitate toward C-MAX for the way it looks and drives, and not just because it's practical and versatile – and that's going to help us reach a whole new group of customers."
Bold exterior and interior designs have been created using the latest evolution of Ford's "kinetic design" form language, building on the themes established in recent product introductions like the hugely successful European-developed Fiesta, Kuga and Mondeo ranges.
Kinetic design elements applied to the new C-MAX include the dynamic, rising beltline, full sculpted surfaces, bold wheel lips, strong athletic shoulders supported by a prominent undercut line and the distinctive kick-up of the window graphic at the C-pillar.
The front end design also features Ford's signature trapezoidal lower grille – with a special "piano black" finish on the Frankfurt Show vehicle.
Offering seating for up to seven, the C-MAX destined for North America features a high roofline and thin pillars to emphasize the generous room and visibility in the cabin. Twin sliding doors are neatly integrated, with the rail concealed by the undercut line on the shoulder of the vehicle.
Stylish, modern interior
The new C-MAX interior mirrors the dynamic and modern character of the exterior, complete with muscular, expressive shapes and bold graphics.
Key design features include the taut, wing-like form of the upper instrument panel (IP), which reaches out to the sides of the interior. A dramatic sweeping form connects the IP with the center console.
The cockpit provides a commanding, raised driving position with high-mounted shifter and center console inspired by the acclaimed layout in the new Fiesta. Carefully designed storage areas are located throughout the cabin, including generous door pockets, a large glove box and additional compartments and cup holders in the center console.
Ingenious 7-seat layout
To maximize the versatility of the 7-seat layout, Ford engineers developed a new seat-folding mechanism for the three second-row seats. This mechanism allows the center seat to fold quickly and easily under one of the two outboard seats, creating a handy walk-through space between them.
This walk-through space allows passengers to access the third row without having to disturb the two outer seats, which is particularly helpful when those positions are occupied by child safety seats. Owners have the option of using the convenient 2+2+2 seating layout or switching to a full 7-seater when required.
The second- and third-row seats also have been cleverly engineered so they can be folded to create a flat load floor, regardless of how many seats remain in use. All of the folding mechanisms are designed so they operate with just one hand.
New generation of global Ford C-segment cars
The C-MAX is the first of a new generation of global C-segment cars scheduled for introduction by Ford over the next several years. This series of new models will include the launch globally of the next-generation Ford Focus beginning late 2010.
The new C-car family is the result of an unprecedented global development program and is loaded with an array of advanced vehicle technologies that will enhance safety, convenience, comfort and driver satisfaction. Up to 10 models and more than 2 million vehicles per year based on this platform will be sold by Ford around the world when the entire launch is complete.
"By concentrating resources and making big commitments to the small car segments in North America, Ford is proving it's doing business differently," Fields said. "Following the launch of the Fiesta and the next-generation Focus in 2010, and the launch of the BEV Focus and a 7-seat model in 2011, Ford will offer customers at least six small cars, and they're going to be truly exciting designs packed with the latest vehicle technologies."