The Grand C-Max that Ford unveiled in Geneva on the eve of the first press day gives us a good look at the interior materials that will be used in the Focus when it goes on sale in the USA in early 2011. Likely to be dubbed the Focus C-Max when it goes on sale in the States in late 2011, the seven-seat mini minivan's great-feeling steering wheel, cascading center dash, and rich mixture of interior materials bode well for the Focus sedan and five-door hatch.
As for the C-Max itself, it packs a lot of versatility into a relatively small package. Well-bolstered, second-row captain's chairs are comfortable and offer walk-through access to the split-folding third-row seats, which are suitable mainly for two pre-teens. Underneath the second-row captain's chair, there's a pop-up seat that fits between the captain's chairs for occasional use when seats for seven are needed.
Jim Farley, Ford's global marketing director, says that he expects the C-Max's appeal to "be bimodal: young families, Gen-Y'ers, with two-, three-, or four-year-old kids; and empty-nester couples." The young families, he says, might have grown up with minivans but "have a lot more financial pressures than their parents did. They might have more student debt."
Farley says that prospective customers in clinics also really like the sliding doors, giving lie to the idea that sliding doors, a big minivan cue, are anathema to younger people. As for the empty-nesters, Farley says they're people who "don't want, or need, a huge Toyota Sienna or Honda Odyssey. The average transaction price on Siennas and Odysseys is close to $30,000 these days." Farley would not indicate the target price range for the C-Max, but it's clearly well below that figure, and he allows that it will be in the range of the Mazda5, which starts at less than $19,000.
- Joe DeMatio