Ford B-Max

Ford B-Max

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A car’s stiffness — its resistance to forces trying to make it bend — is not just important to stop the car creaking as it drives over ruts and bumps. Stiffness also determines how the body will behave in a crash, and governs how the car will handle, making the car predictable and precise from the driver’s perspective. “Stiffness gives the whole character of the car,” Palmer said.

2012 Ford B-Max with doors open
It should be noted that the B-Max is only stiffer than the Fiesta when its doors are shut, because Ford has given the job normally done by the central pillar to the doors, all of which can be opened and shut independently. A strong link between the roof and floor is still needed to keep the car safe in a crash, and the doors of the production car are noticeably thicker than normal.

The unique Ford Easy Access Door System delivers new levels of convenience, access and flexibility. It features conventional, hinged front doors and rear sliding doors, combined in a new body design. This integrates the traditional central pillar structure into the front and rear doors, rather than forming part of the bodyshell itself.

When both front and rear doors are open there is outstanding access to the interior, with a huge, clear aperture more than 1.5 metres wide. This is around twice the width offered by competitors with alternative door concepts and makes it significantly easier to enter or exit the rear seats, attend to children in child seats, or load and unload shopping2.

B-MAX’s twin sliding rear doors also offer added benefits in crowded streets or narrow parking bays when access via hinged doors could be awkward. The front and rear doors can be opened completely independently, so the front or rear cabin can be accessed as required.

“When the doors are shut they are clamped very tightly to the body and become part of the structure,” Palmer explained. Patented latches at the top and bottom of both front and rear doors are designed to tighten their grip in either a frontal or a side-on impact. “In a front impact, the roof wants to go up and the floor down,” said Palmer. “The latches are designed to resist that movement”. As a result, Ford is predicting a high-percentage five-star rating for the B-Max when it goes through the tough Euro NCAP crash test programme.

And because of all the boron steel used in the doors and in the aperture around them, Palmer said the B-Max will be competitive with others in its class &mdash such as the Vauxhall Meriva &mdash when it comes to overall weight. “That’s important for us to be competitive in fuel economy as well as performance,” he added, noting that consumption and CO2 ratings are increasingly important in the fiercely contested market for smaller cars.

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