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From Motoring at Tiscali

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Ford Focus C-MAX (03- )
MAX factors highly
MPV

Ford has been somewhat late in coming up with a rival to the popular Vauxhall Zafira, Citroen Xsara Picasso, Renault Scenic and so on, but finally, here it is: the Focus C-MAX. Unlike a number of its competitors, it only has five seats (Ford doesn't want to steal sales from the Galaxy, and maintains that demand for seven seats in a car this size isn't significant) but these do slide, fold, tumble and do all the tricks they should - in optional "flexible seating system" form, at least. The C-MAX isn't as wide as, say, the Scenic, but can accommodate adult-length legs in the rear and give all occupants a good view out - it's much higher-riding than the (also very roomy) 'normal' Focus estate car. Its main strengths, however, are that it's very car-like to drive, and comes with the excellent new PSA-Ford diesel engines, including a high-performance 2.0-litre unit. The C-MAX is also a step ahead of the other Focus variants in that it is the first model to be based on a new set of underpinnings, with increased body rigidity, crash protection and dynamic abilities.

The two diesel engines on offer come in 1.6-litre, 108bhp and 2.0-litre, 136bhp form, the latter in conjunction with a new six-speed manual gearbox, and there's also the 1.8-litre petrol engine. Trim levels will be badged LX, Zetec and Ghia, as in other Ford ranges; Ghia models are fitted with leather upholstery. Standard specification includes front, side thorax and side 'curtain' airbags on all models, three three-point seatbelts in the rear and standard ABS anti-lock brakes with EBD (electronic brakeforce distribution) and Brake Assist, as well as a CD player and air conditioning; options include two different Sony audio systems, DVD-based satellite navigation and plug-ins for a DVD player or games console with a roof-mounted screen, as well as additional functionality for the rear bench seat.

Prices + versions: On sale November 2003; prices and final specifications yet to be announced, but are expected to start from around £12,500 and to be competitive against similarly equipped Scenic and Zafira models.
 
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