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More Euro Fords: The 2011 C-Max

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On: Fri, Sep 18, 2009 at 11:16AM | By: John Welch

More Euro Fords: The 2011 C-Max

Several weird segments have popped up in the American auto industry lately. Four door hatch-backs, itty bitty city cars, narrow work vans, and seven passenger car/van double mini-people carrier thingees like the Mazda 5 and the Kia Rondo. All of these concepts are direct descendants of, or inspired by, European products. BMW, VW, and Porsche have the 'shooting-brake', foor door hatch-back thing covered, while Ford, Mercedes and others have produced 'city cars' for decades. Ford recently had the bright idea to begin importing its European product to the U.S. market . . . something about Euro-Fords being dynamically superior to the American-produced crap-wagons currently sold in Ford dealerships. The first European Ford product to actually go on sale was the Ford Transit Connect, a urban sized cargo van, similar to the Daimler Sprinter. Next we will get the new Fiesta, followed by the new Focus and the Ford C-Max.

Lumped into the third new weirdo-convention defying-segment, I believe I referred to it as the "seven passenger car/van double mini-people carrier thingees" segment, the C-Max represents a fresh edition to a growing passenger car class. Roomy, reasonably attractive, and possibly featuring turbocharged engines, the C-Max is an interesting proposition.

The engine choices should alleviate one beef Americans have with this segment: tepid performance. The Mazda 5 strides to sixty in a leisurely 8.9 seconds, the Kia Rondo is a tick or two slower. These vehicles offend the American Car-Ethic on so many fronts it's appalling. A mini-mini van?! Slower then your brother's '96 Sentra? Foreign??! So we are a bunch of really picky eaters, we still buy more cars than anyone. Unfortunately, the current economic climate doesn't suffer trailer-dwellers who own three sixty thousand dollar SUVs anymore. Most families have to replace one or all of those traffic-congesting, parking lot-swelling Expeditions with something a little more practical. Enter the C-Max, a front-drive, efficient people-mover with enough personality to steal sales from the more expensive (and not terribly efficient) Odysseys and Siennas of the world. . . and wouldn't it be rad to blow the doors off of some hotted-up Civic with the most unassuming, stealthy, and truly useful vehicle on the road? I'm not the first person to entertain such an absurd concept . ..

Earlier this year, Car and Driver revived a concept they've been kicking around (with mixed results) for the better part of forty years, the "Boss Wagon". The idea is simple: what is the least desirable body configuration for a performance vehicle? Why, the wagon, of course. With a little ingenuity and an even smaller expense account, the editors of this famed publication have warmed over everything form a Vista Cruiser to a Volvo 240, the latter being so diabolical its enormous turbine had to be replaced with a tamer unit so as to prevent the violent snap oversteer caused by mid-eighties turbo lag. No power until 3,000 revs, and then BAM! full power with no time to react to it. Sounds fun. For their latest Boss Wagon, C&D turned to the seven passenger car/van double mini-people carrier thingees, going to town on a Mazda 5.

By conning Mazda out of a wrecked MazdaSpeed 3, and a brand new Mazda 5, the magazine was able to combine the two cars into one incredibly desirable little scamp, a sort of home-made Mitsubishi AirTrek Turbo. Other upgrades included a Cobb Intercooler (the stock MS3 top-mount intercooler would have required cutting a massive hole in the 5's hood, eff that!) a short-throw shifter, and better rolling stock. The wheels and tires profoundly affected handling, and aren't that hard on the eyes either. The C-Max (if offered with Eco-Boost four cylinders) will be able to match this sort of competency without having to mount another car's gauge cluster in the glove box just to get the ECU to fire the engine. Nor will you have to splice and re-wire two harnesses because the interior relay box will not communicate with the harness from the donor car. Read the article if you don't savvy any of that; working on modern cars is a right pain in the ass.

The C-Max should reach dealerships by the spring of 2011, we will update powertrain and interior options as the information becomes available.

Source: The New York Times

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