2013 Ford C-MAX Energi
2.0L L4 + electric (118 HP)
141 HP (188 MAX)
4.0 / 4.1
This week found me driving with Green Ontario plates, which means my exhaust pipe is emitting zero emissions.
Well that is not entirely true, as it depends how far I go. You see, the 2013 Ford C-MAX Energi with the green plates mounted on it is an Extended Range Plug-in Hybrid vehicle with the ability to cover a reasonable distance in EV mode. (20 – 30km)
It is based on the latest generation Ford Focus but for the occasion it taller to create more space. The C-MAX has confused many people when it comes to classifying it but the answer is simple. It is an MPV, which stands for Multi-Purpose-Vehicle, a European derived minivan which just offers more space compared to a regular hatchback.
Prices start at $38,549 while our SEL test vehicle was priced at $41,199, which does make it seem a bit pricey, but it is on par with the PIP, Plun-In-Prius that is.. Don’t forget, that at least as of today, you get $5,806 back from the government as an incentive to purchase a green car.
Look carefully and you will notice that there is a regular fuel cap on the passenger’s side and a flashy illuminating cap on the driver’s side. Using the first one will cost you $75 bucks and give you about 600km to go in under 3 minutes. Using the one of the left will cost you $0.54 and will give you about 20-30km to go, in 7h (or 3h with the optional 220v charger).
Inside the cabin, the over-designed dashboard is dominant as the intense angle theme is carried over from the Focus and Escape. It is well built, soft to the touch materials have been used which also continue on the upper door panels, fit and finish are really good and ergonomically everything is where it should be except the sound system controls which are a bit to horizontal and hard to see.
Visibility is amazing and driving the C-MAX is as easy as toasting bread. The steering wheel is adjustable for height and reach, the driver’s seat has all the necessary adjustments too and the seat its self is more comfortable than supportive.
The rear seats offer generous legroom and headroom but feel narrow and wooden. Also, there is a significant gap between the door panel and the edge of the bench which will easily fit one of your butt cheeks, so overall the rear seats could use an update next year.
The trunk is 141lt (5 cu. ft.) smaller than the hybrid’s and is too small to fit any luggage or a stroller. Shopping bags enough for the week should fit easily as long as you are not preparing yourself for hibernation.
Under the hood, you get a 2.0L Atkinson cycle 4-cylinder engine that outputs 141 BHP and 129 lb-ft of torque. Mated to the e-CVT gearbox is also an Electric motor that outputs an impressive 118 BHP and 177 lb-ft of torque. No, no, this is not 1 + 1 = 2 so this does not have more power than the Focus ST. The maximum total power the two engines can reach is 188 BHP due to the differences in the power delivery characteristics. Never the less, it is plenty fast for a vehicle with green plates and the overall refinement is very satisfactory. For the record, 0-100 km/h was done in 8.5 seconds.
After charging the batteries for 7h, you can press the EV button and get going gas free. On a cold day like the day I wrote this (-3c) the countdown to “out of juice” started from 21km. Indeed, 20.3km later, the gas engine kicked in and EV mode was no longer possible. Not bad, considering that half of that was done on the highway at 100km/h. Once you run out of juice, it is almost exactly like the hybrid.
On the road, the sophisticated and modern suspension controls the heavy body really well. There is little body roll and the C-MAX corners very similarly to its skinnier sibling, the Focus, thanks to the low centre of gravity. Any tendency to understeer can be easily controlled with the well weighted and responsive steering and the C-MAX remains safe and on track, also thanks to its advanced stability control. Apart from the much more expensive Tesla Model S, this could easily be one of the best handling Green Plates out there. Comfort levels are also high as despite its dynamic handling it is soft enough over rough surfaces and rolling quality is also good enough to make it a pleasure on long journeys.
The energy regenerative brakes can feel a bit weird the first few times, but it’s something you will soon get used to. They are strong and the C-MAX came to a complete stop in 42 meters even though such an abrupt stop was not approved by the braking guide available on board.
For a family that needs a second car for the school run car, or the person that just likes the idea of cleaner cars, the C-MAX Energi is a very interesting proposition. If your commuting demands can be timed perfectly with charging intervals, you might be able to figure out how long it takes gas to become stale and that is pretty cool.