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Old 06-26-2003, 07:24   #1 (permalink)
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Europe : Ford C-Max 2.0 TDCi

June 2003
Auto Express
by Oliver Marriage

The C-MAX has landed. Ford's eagerly awaited compact MPV is here - just as some rival marques are rolling out their second-generation vehicles. It may be late, but there's one more pressing concern - has the blue oval shot itself in the foot by fitting only five seats?

On the launch there were breezy denials from Ford employees about the need for the car to accommodate more people. As Colin Reynell, the chief programme engineer, said: "Our research shows that seven seats are not a high purchase motivator - in fact, 50 per cent of European buyers in this sector don't have any children at all, and only eight per cent have more than two." Rivals back this up - only the Vauxhall Zafira and VW Touran come with seven seats, while the vast majority offer five, including the latest Renault Scenic and big-selling Citroen Picasso.

So how does the Ford fare? Well, considering it's based on the platform of the next-generation Focus - which is 25mm longer and 40mm wider than previously - its underpinnings are the best in the business. The stylists have done well, too - the dipping roofline means there's no boxy tail section and the C-MAX is decidedly better-looking than most of its class rivals.

It's also very well built. The engineers admit to having spent 18 months perfecting the way the doors open and close - they feel superbly chunky and robust. It's a very similar story inside, with quality materials and pleasing design. The driver layout is superb, especially the high-mounted, slick-shifting gearlever, while the seats (mounted 80mm higher than in the Focus) are both comfortable and supportive, and the driving position more snug than in many MPVs. One small criticism is that the dash-top cubby is too far away.

However, the crucial area is further back. And it must be said that the rear seats work very well. As in the Scenic, all three tumble forward individually and can be removed. But the real party trick is that the centre seat can be tilted back into the boot. This allows the outer chairs to have a Vauxhall-style sliding feature. They move diagonally - inwards by 60mm and backwards by 100mm.

This feature isn't fitted on entry-level models, and it has to be said that there's plenty of space for three before you switch to the cavernous two-seat mode anyway. What's more, there's the usual raft of child-friendly features (tray tables, underfloor bins), and the 550-litre boot is genuinely spacious.

Three engines are available at launch - a 1.8-litre petrol (not the Mondeo's new SCi unit) and two new TDCi diesels, developed in conjunction with Peugeot/Citroen. The 1.6 produces 108bhp and 240Nm of torque, while the 2.0 is a flier, with 134bhp and 320Nm. This unit is truly impressive - smooth, punchy and capable of over 50mpg.

Unsurprisingly, considering how top-heavy and comfort-oriented the C-MAX is, the driving dynamics aren't as sharp as those of the Focus hatch, but the newcomer still runs rings around rivals in this area. The ride is soft yet well controlled, and the steering accurate and well weighted. Bring on the opposition.
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My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.

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Old 06-30-2003, 11:26   #2 (permalink)
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New Ford Focus C-Max production begins

6-30-03
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Ford Europe issued the following press release:

Initial production of the new Ford Focus C-MAX began on Friday at Fordís assembly plant in Saarlouis, Germany. The new model is due to go on sale in the autumn of 2003 and will be offered in 33 European countries.

Ford plans to manufacture 96,000 new Focus C-MAX vehicles through this year, with production capacity operating at a rate up to 1,060 per day. The total daily vehicle production capacity of Fordís Saarlouis plant, which also manufactures the Ford Focus, is 1,735 units. The new Focus C-MAX will share the same assembly line as the Ford Focus.

Ford has invested more than 400 million Euros in the production of the new ve-hicle, including an extensive renewal of the Saarlouis body plant and stamping facil-ity. A total of 490 new robots have been added to the existing 450, which complete welding operations for the Ford Focus. A new stamping line meets the highest re-quirements in terms of quality and flexibility.

ďWith that very significant 400 million Euros investment programme for the installation of new flexible manufacturing equipment to build the Focus and the new Focus C-MAX, we provided our Saarlouis plant with the capability of switching production between the two models quickly and easily. This enables us to be agile in our response to changes in customer needs and provides Ford with the opportunity to move further in the race to deliver the highest standards of customer satisfaction,Ē said John Fleming, Vice President Manufacturing, Ford of Europe.

Fordís Saarlouis plant employs around 7,000 people and manufactures the com-panyís most successful model in Europe. Approximately 2.4 million Ford Focus models have been sold across European since its launch in 1998. The Ford Focus has been Britainís best-selling new car since 1999 and achieved third place overall among Europe's Top Ten best-sellers for the first time ever in 2002. It was also in 2002 that the Ford Focus achieved true global status, following its introduction to the Australian market, when it was available on all five continents for the first time. Worldwide production facilities for the Ford Focus are Saarlouis (Germany), Valen-cia (Spain), Wayne, Michigan (USA), Hermosillo (Mexico), Pacheco (Argentina) and, since July 2002, St. Petersburg (Russia).

With its sleek, compact shape, sporty, contemporary style and confident dy-namic capabilities, the all-new Ford Focus C-MAX is poised to change customer expectations of what a mid-size modern family vehicle (MFV) can be. Focus C-MAX is a new addition to the Focus range, which brings greater space, flexibility and comfort while refusing to compromise the Focus hallmark driving quality in the process.

Truly versatile, Focus C-MAX offers unique rear-seat flexibility and a premium driver and passenger environment, along with impressive stowage, space and on-board entertainment choices. Focus C-MAX designers opted not to configure the new car for seven seats to avoid compromised driving quality and interior comfort. Instead, Focus C-MAXís flexibility has been geared to offer ample space for three rear-seat passengers or significantly improved legroom and shoulder room when there are only two.

And true to its name, the new Focus C-MAX brings Fordís acknowledged capa-bility in engineering driving dynamics to a segment that thus far has been starved of an entry that is truly fun to drive.
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My next Ford.....
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