Saturday 12 September 2015

A car-phobic’s review of the new Ford C-Max

Crashing the new Ford C-Max
As a person who views a car as a necessary evil - tons of flying metal that people are lucky to get out of alive - I was puzzled about my invitation to test-drive Ford’s new family car, the C-Max. But I was prepared to give it a try, since I had never been to Belgium before. 

The journey from Brussels station to the hotel was spent in the company of some total petrolheads who were as confused as I was by my presence on the trip. They were discussing things like retuned dampers and new shock absorber valve designs. I was thinking about the hotel pool and whether Belgian gin & tonic was any good. It gave me plenty of time to reflect seriously on what I had let myself in for. 

When we arrived at the hotel a friendly Ford executive greeted me at the hotel with an extended hand; I extended a fist (which he politely shook) so that he wouldn’t know about my sweaty palms. Another manager came up to me and I accidentally shook his hand twice, and it was only when I went in for a third hand-shake that he politely told me to stop shaking his hand.   

Having finished with the handshakes, it was time for dinner. Buoyed by two gin and tonics, I decided to share my thoughts. I asked if Ford still had an unexciting reputation; announced that Fords were for the older, less cool driver; and said that the one great car they have produced is the Ford Corvette. (Someone pointed out that Ford didn’t make the Corvette). Next I got quite shirty about the fact that the Capri had been discontinued and asked what they planned to do about it. Then I decided to take photos of my dinner and put them on Facebook. 

Journalist doing a RoboCop impression
When morning arrived I spent some time trying to work out if I could slip back to the Eurostar without anyone noticing. Unfortunately I had no idea whereabouts in Belgium we were, so I had no choice but to go to the test track and hope I wouldn’t make too much of an idiot of myself. 

At the test track's safety zone, I got to wear a pregnancy suit, which I put on back to front. Then the safety man told me lots of important things about child safety in cars which I found highly reassuring. 

It was time to do the actual test-drive, and it turned out that things have come on quite a long way since the Capri. I got behind the wheel, pressed a button on the dashboard, and not only did the car find a suitable parking spot, it also parked the car! All I had to do was use the foot pedals, while the steering wheel took on a mind of its own.  I felt like I was in Knightrider or something.  

Unlike my current people carrier, which turns into a giant ice skate if there are more than about five rain drops on the road, the C-Max can be safely rally-driven to within an inch of its life. And the back seats have this crazy water-repellent covering which liquids sort of float above, like something out of a sci-fi film. My only concern with that feature was that my kids would start deliberately pouring juice all over the back seat, just to watch these futuristic globules appear on the surface.  

Futuristic globules
I also learnt that Ford isn’t an aged company producing boring cars, quite the opposite.  The Ford employees are young, and good-looking, and cool, the environment is buzzing and exciting. And the managers also don’t seem to mind too much if you accidentally test-drive one of their cars into the back of another car when testing the automatic braking system. 

I still don’t really like cars, but fair play to them, Ford are producing some pretty impressive cars.