There are times when there is no better way to approach a business challenge than with your posse around you, all suitably briefed and entering a meeting relaxed and confident.
And, very often, the mere journey to that meeting can be the difference between closing or losing that major sales deal.
For example, imagine you’ve a vital contract potential across the Channel and you need to get there quickly, with time to fully brief the members of your team and carrying presentation equipment and pop-ups.
I replicated this scenario on a trip to Belgium in the remarkable Ford Grand C-Max, which boasts seven seats in a body-shell of a compact people carrier. Even more remarkable was the model I tested was powered by Ford’s tiny 1.0-litre EcoBoost three-cylinder petrol engine.
I’ve tested this before in the Focus but could the little lump copes with a bigger car loaded with six people, luggage and duty-free shopping?
Just like a sales team off to make the pitch, we set off from the London office loaded up and eager to catch an early ferry from Dover and here the C-Max proved a perfect partner offering lots of legroom for the passengers and easy to use gadgets for the driver including Ford SYNC hooking up the driver’s phone for connectivity and music – let’s face it ‘Eye of the Tiger’ was going to get a hammering!
Despite the tiny size of the engine, the car toured effortlessly on cruise control set at the highest legal limit. Even the climb up the South Downs required just one downward change to maintain the speed even loaded up to near maximum carrying capacity.
So we arrived early and fresh at Dover to enjoy the P&O Club Lounge – this is a must- do optional extra for any business traveller affording quiet elegant surroundings to work and plan the pitch away from the crowds and priority boarding, all for just £12 a car when booked in advance!
A little more than an hour after docking, the SI sales team was rolling into the picturesque medieval city of Bruges, relaxed, up for the pitch and looking forward to an evening of Belgian beers and Flemish stews.
The C-Max makes a trip like this effortless and yet returns a real-world average of mixed city and motorway driving of about 40mpg. Naturally, the little engine has to work hard on high-speed highways but, if your commercial life is spent heavily in urban environments, the cheaper UK petrol price over diesel will soon begin to see savings compared to the oil-burner.
Flexibility is the key advantage of the C-Max’s interior with seats folding and spinning out of the way in many different combinations. I particularly liked the under-seat storage compartments, which take a surprising volume of incidental luggage. The sliding side doors also come into their own with a posse loaded themselves and luggage into the car.
Now, a starting price of £23,545 for the Titanium X model I tested may seen a tad steep for a 1.0-litre motor but that’s only because the car challenges our perceptions of litres-versus-price. It also doesn’t take into account a truly impressive standard equipment list including 17-inch alloys, Panorama roof with electric sunblind, bi-xenon headlights with jet washers, part leather upholstery, auto wipers and lights and hill-start assist among many other assets. One optional extra I would definitely recommend is Ford superb driver assistance pack which, for just £550 extra, provides stop/start technology, lane alert and lane maintenance, road sign recognition, driver alert, auto high beam and blind spot alerts.
Whether as a work or life tool, the C-Max makes an impressive case to be included in any manager’s sales team fleet.
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Engine: 1.0-litre turbo
Top Speed: 115mph