This is the new C-Max. It's a much sharper looking car than the present version of Ford's Focus-based people carrier, which is rather staid in appearance and will be seen in the metal for the first time at next week's Frankfurt motor show, although it won't go on sale until next year.

But the next version of the C-Max is as interesting for what's under the skin as it is for its appearance. It's based on Ford's next-generation C-segment platform; what that means in normal English is that the basic underpinnings of the new car will also provide the basis of the next Ford Focus and other small-to-medium-sized vehicles produced by the Ford group. It will be interesting to see whether that also includes new versions of Volvo's C30 coupe, S40 saloon and V50 estate, given that Ford has indicated that it is willing to sell its Swedish arm.

Among the features Ford says will be offered on the C-Max are semi-automatic parallel parking and a blind spot detection system. While these features are new to Ford, similar systems are already on sale elsewhere; Volkswagen offers a parallel parking system while Volvo and others got there first with blind spot warnings.

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