What has four doors, four wheels, and 1.5 meters of uninterrupted open space on each side? Why, the Ford B-MAX does. Ford introduced the subcompact people mover today at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, making it the first vehicle to make a first appearance at a key technology event. Why was the B-MAX shown here, instead of a major auto show?
If you haven’t yet heard, Ford is rolling out its SYNC voice-activated infotainment system on a global scale (rather than keeping it silo’d in North America) — and the B-MAX will be the Blue Oval’s first SYNC-equipped vehicle in Europe. The global SYNC system will include all the goodies of the system we all know and (mostly) love in North America, including Bluetooth and USB integration, but adds some new languages and renames 911 Assist to Emergency Assistance. The latter responds to a crash by using the driver’s paired mobile phone to directly call the emergency services — in their local language and compelte with the location of the accident. The tech toys brought fourth by SYNC is the reason Ford decided to crash the Mobile World Congress party.
But Ford isn’t holding any punches and is pitching the B-MAX as a game changer, with the right amount of technology, style, and flexibility:
“The all-new B-MAX is going to be a game-changer in the European compact family vehicle segment. No other vehicle in its class offers such an attractive combination of style, versatility and technology,” said Ford of Europe’s chairman and CEO, Stephen Odell. “We think it will be among the most technologically advanced small cars you can buy at any price.”
Outside of SYNC, the B-MAX features Ford’s Easy Access Door System, which integrates central body pillars into hinged front doors and sliding rear doors. The result is a large, unencumbered opening on each side of the car with no B-pillars. For those concerned with safety, Ford will have you know that its engineers did extensive research and testing, conducting more than 1,000 computer simulations and 50 real-life crashes to understand and optimize the vehicle’s resistance to side impacts. Official crash ratings haven’t been released as of this writing.
The B-MAX will offer two engine choices, the 1.0 liter gasoline-burning EcoBoost three-cylinder and a 1.6 liter Duratorq turbo-diesel, a choice Ford believes will make the Fiesta-based MPV the segment leader in fuel efficiency. Additionally, the B-MAX features Torque Vectoring Control, which improves driving dynamics and cornering control, keeping the vehicle true to Ford’s goal of remaining fun to drive (as if the Fiesta wasn’t fun already). Ford’s Active City Stop, designed to prevent low-speed collisions by using a forward-facing infra-red camera to detect objects in front of the car and automatically apply brakes, will also be offered.
Look for the B-MAX on the auto show circuit in March at the Geneva Motor Show and at your local Ford Europe dealer later in 2012.