A few days after the Paris Motor Show, we had the chance to sample the Grand C-Max, Ford's latest Euro-spec MPV destined for North American soil. Other markets around the world are ripe with these mini-minivans, but here in the States, our only C-segment MPV option is the very likable Mazda5. The long-wheelbase C-Max will drop its "Grand" nomenclature when it arrives here in North America, and the public will get its first taste of the new Ford at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show.
Ford calls the C-Max's seating configuration a "five-plus-two," meaning that the interior is best suited for five passengers, and that the two rear seats are best used for small occupants. What's more, Ford offers a unique storage solution for the middle seat in the second row, allowing it to fold down and is stow underneath the bottom cushion of the rear passenger-side chair, creating a set of two captain's seats in the process (check out a video here). The rest of the C-Max interior is very much akin to what we've seen in the 2012 Focus, and we're quite impressed with the high-quality craftsmanship that FoMoCo is putting into its latest crop of cabins.
2012 Ford C-MaxPerhaps the most interesting feature of the 2012 C-Max is its hands-free liftgate. Much like a passive entry system for the driver's door, whoever has the C-Max's key fob on their person can simply wave their leg under the rear bumper, triggering two sensors that will open the liftgate. It's pretty slick, and Ford tells us that this technology will me making its way to the vast majority of the company's hatchback products.
The base powertrain in the C-Max is Ford's 2.5-liter inline-four also found in the Fusion. In its MPV home, this mill produces 168 horsepower and 167 pound-feet of torque, mated exclusively to a six-speed automatic transmission. The upmarket engine is an all-new 1.6-liter EcoBoost inline-four, rated at 180 hp and 173 lb-ft of twist, also mated to a six-speed 'box. The C-Max is only available with front-wheel drive, and 17-inch wheels are fitted to all three trim levels – S, SE and SEL.
We're eager to get our mitts on the U.S.-spec C-Max, and we're crossing our fingers that American car buyers will be more receptive to smaller MPVs than in the past. Check out the 2012 C-Max for yourself in the gallery below, and follow the jump for the full suite of details.