Will more seats mean more sales?

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Families are one big headache for car designers.

These are groups of people with contrasting views and needs who all share the same car.

While one family member wants a vehicle to look good and drive with a little verve, another might want seats that are easy to fold down and lots of storage space.

Certain factions in the family won’t give two hoots about any of that.

They’ll be are more interested in the maximum volume of stereo system, the quantity of 12-volt charging points for games consoles, whether their bikes will fit in the boot or how long it takes to colour-in the back of the headrest with a felt tip pen.

Pleasing all of the family all of the time sounds impossible but Ford’s C-MAX MPV is up for giving it a good go.

There’s nothing old fashioned about the C-MAX engine range, Ford having fitted a collection of leading edge powerplants littered with the kind of technology that the layman has no hope of understanding.

There are 1.6-litre Ti-VCT petrol units and 1.6-litre EcoBoost SCTi engines that also run on unleaded. The diesels are 1.6 or 2.0-litre in capacity.

The standard C-MAX is very similar in size to the model it replaced and features a curving roofline that drops away towards the rear for a sporty look.

The Grand C-MAX is fully 4,520mm long with a wheelbase increased by 140mm compared to the standard car. It’s also 40mm taller and these extended dimensions allow it to cram in that third row of seating.

The roof line is flatter and the window pillars are thinner to enhance the view out of the Grand C-MAX but the other major difference is that, while the C-MAX has conventional rear doors, the Grand C-MAX employs sliding doors.

This creates wider apertures for improved access to the rear seats and eliminates the risk of children clouting adjacent cars when they clamber out in the car park.

The design inside the C-MAX looks slick. In line with the other modern Fords, there’s plenty of metallic detailing and the quality of fit and finish seems high.

It’s the C-MAX seats that will provoke the most interest, however, as the designers clearly did a lot of work on maximising versatility.

In the Grand C-MAX the sliding side doors mean it’s possible to access the third row without sliding or tilting seats in the second row.

The 5-seat models don’t miss out. They get the same seats which tumble down individually in one motion to create a flat floor: there are just less of them.

It was clear what the Ford C-MAX needed to really make it big in the compact MPV sector and that was seven seats.

Today, the Grand C-MAX fulfils that requirement, leaving the standard model free to tread a smaller, sportier path.

The family buyers that the C-MAX is targeting are a demanding bunch but the good looks, spacious cabin and eye-opening versatility of the range seems certain to convince a fair number of them.