Picture the scene. It’s a sunny Saturday afternoon, I’m driving home from a great day at the Beaulieu Autojumble and I’ve left enough time to take the scenic route up the A34 rather than around the M25. I’m in MR’s brand-spanking new long-termer, a Ford Focus C-Max 1.5 TDCI, and it’s bimbling along nicely returning silly MPG.
Dermot O’Leary is on top form on Radio 2, and the only thing that could make life better is a good cup of tea.
I pull off at Tot Hill services, near Newbury, and pop into McDonalds for a quick brew. On returning to the C-Max, I reach into my pocket for the keys, and they’re not there. I check the other pocket, nope. That feeling when you realise you’ve lost something very important? That.
The keys are definitely not upon my person. I retract my steps into McDonalds, and they’re not anywhere. I speak to the manager, who confirms they haven’t been handed in. In desperation, I borrow a set of gloves from the cleaner and rummage through the bins, just in case I’ve chucked them away. Nope, they’re not to be found.
Convinced I’ve somehow locked them in the car, I dial the AA. They turn up very promptly (within 20 minutes), and show how, despite all the modern safety systems, it’s still surprisingly easy to break into a new car with the right tools. As long as you don’t mind causing a scene with the Ford’s ultra-loud alarm.
The keys aren’t inside. We search the car park, again. I comb McDonalds. I plea with the manager, who is evidently bored of me and unwilling to help. They’ve disappeared off the face of the planet.
What follows is a lesson on how something so simple can ruin your day. The AA man and I disable the car to stop it being stolen overnight – pulling out various fuses and disconnecting injector leads does the job. And then he helpfully drops me off at Newbury railway station to get home – a simple three trains and a tube job on a Saturday evening. Wonderful.
You’re an idiot, but how’s the car?
I returned the next day with a spare key and was pleased to find the C-Max still in one piece and where I left it. Not only because it meant I didn’t have to explain to Ford just how I managed to lose their car, but also because I’d already started to bond with it.
It’s top spec Titanium X trim, meaning it’s got half-leather seats, cruise control and Ford’s SYNC 2 infotainment system. It’s also got just under £2,000 worth of extras of on it, including Ford’s clever blind spot information system with cross traffic alert (£400). When reversing out of a parking space, this detects traffic approaching and alerts you to vehicles you can’t see.
The new 1.5-litre diesel engine isn’t the most powerful unit – boasting just 120hp. But, on first impressions, that appears to be surprisingly plentiful for this MPV, despite an 11.3 second 0-62mph time.
What’s more impressive is the efficiency – a claimed 68.9mpg on the combined cycle, a figure we’ve already discovered is doable with some careful slipstreaming of HGVs. And it emits 105g/km CO2, resulting in £20 a year road tax.
The C-Max is set to be on the fleet for the next six months, so we’ll keep you updated about how we get on with it day to day. Hopefully the next six months won’t be quite so eventful.