Ford's small B-Max MPV is wowing visitors to the Geneva Motor Show with two big innovations that are bound to worry competitors with less adventurous designs.

The first and most obvious of these is the elimination of the new car's so-called B-pillars, the structural element that divides the front and rear door openings on most cars. This change gives exceptional ease of access, especially to the rear seats; for good measure the rear doors are of the convenient sliding type. Normally, the B-pillar plays an important part in the structural integrity of a car, but Ford says it has built the required stiffness and crash resistance into the doors themselves, creating a “virtual B-pillar”. The only competing product with anything like as innovative a set-up is the Vauxhall Meriva which has rear-hinged rear side doors. With an overall length of just over four metres, though, the B-Max does take up a little bit more room than Toyota's new, very space-efficient but much more conventional Verso-S.

The second innovation is less visibly obvious but no less significant – a new three-cylinder 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, an addition to Ford's range of EcoBoost power units. The EcoBoost range involves capacity downsizing and measures such as turbocharging and stop-start technology in order to improve performance, economy and emissions. If the new engine is as good as the existing 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre EcoBoost engines fitted to Ford's larger cars, the B-Max should be very competitive indeed.

One final point of interest - the B-Max will be the first Ford to be built in Romania. Car production in that country has previously been focused mainly on the Renault-derived Dacia range.

Search for used cars