2013 Ford C-Max Energi SEL

The new 2013 Ford C-Max Energi compact five-seat hatchback is a new plug-in gasoline -electric crossover hybrid version and I must say very clever new vehicle from Ford.

The C-Max is Energi is powered by a 2.0-litre Atkinson cycle four-cylinder gas engine, which produces 141 horsepower and 129 lb.-ft. of torque. It gains its electric drive via extra power from a 7.6 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which powers an electric motor, for a total system output of 195 hp on a full charge. The sole transmission available is Ford’s new electronic-controlled continuously variable transmission, designed to manage power delivery from both the gas engine and electric motor.

Battery specs and issues are always important on a hybrid electric and to their credit Ford says the battery pack is 25 to 30 per cent smaller and 50 per cent lighter than the nickel metal hydride units used in its previous hybrids. Ford also say the battery packs are recyclable and feature air cooling, which helps in keeping the batteries longer lasting.

Ford claims the C-Max can travel at speeds of up to 100 km/h in full electric mode and according to the maker, the C-Max delivers a 1.9 L/100 km city rating (combined gas and electric), 4.5 L/100 km on the highway (gas only) and has a total range of 1,221 kilometres (43 in electric-only mode).

Charging time another major concern for plug in hybrids is claimed to be around seven hours to fully recharge with a standard 120-volt plug. Ford says an optional 240-volt home-charging station can reduce that time to about 2.5 hours. In addition Ford is partnering with the Best Buy electronics retailers to install the home charging stations for $1,600.

The C-Max looks funky and exciting with its cheeky, boxy shape and tall airy cabin. I like the big fish-like open-mouth grille and sharp angular headlamps. There are such neat features as: the optional power-operated lift-gate that can open by touching with your foot under the bumper, a self-parking system and of course, the MyFord Touch info and entertainment system. In addition The MyFord mobile app monitors and schedules charging times, range and locates the nearest charging stations.
For the not cheap price, one expect and gets a high quality cabin, fit finish and materials and an impressive range of technology and Ford is to be commended on this.

The C-Max’s tall profile, providing excellent headroom and allowing for more cabin space in all directions especially as far as legroom goes The cabin offers more clues to the clever packaging with the tall upright structure allowing for more upright seating positions. The C-Max Energi cargo area offers a not too shabby 1,528 litres of space with the rear 60/40-split seat-backs completely folded. Wondering about the high floor height? That is due to the lithium-ion battery and other associated hybrid technology underneath.

Our gleaming platinum white C-MAX Energi tester was an SEL mid-level model with an equipment package including: black charcoal leather seats, premium audio and navigation package, hands-free technology package, power liftgate, rear view camera, keyless entry start and tailgate lift and parking technology package (SAAP). Also included was an engine block heater.

Total price of the equipment package was $2,200 pushing up the base SEL price up from $33,999 to $39,199 plus destination and delivery charges.

During the week I spent driving Ford’s newest plug-in I was very impressed at how it felt so normal –driving a regular vehicle even while running in full electric mode. On the highway the C-Max Energi delivers hp from its 2.0-litre Atkinson-cycle engine, pushing a tall boxy cabin. However it is at its best in a mix of urban and suburban terrain where the smooth comfortable ride and benign road manners make it an easy and pleasing vehicle to drive. The C-Max is impressively quiet although the gas engine does get a bit noisy under hard acceleration. There were no real issues with the driving experience and the hybrid engine kicks in and out as and when needed pretty seamlessly. Of course fuel economy is a stand out and a major reason one would consider this vehicle.

Passengers liked the roomy cabin, the ample cargo area and the fuel economy is a fantastic gift in this car and is scheduled to give the Toyota Prius a real run for its money. If I was in the market for a plug- in hybrid it wold be at the top of my list. The C-Max Energi is certainly a plug in hybrid to consider Auto Review by Veeno Dewan.