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Ford B-Max is pillarless for society

The Ford B-Max has no 'B-pillar' -- the column down the centre of the car separating the front and rear doors -- meaning you get acres of space to get in and out.

Rory Reid

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The new Ford B-Max is an intriguing vehicle -- just don't ask us what it is. It's 11cm longer than a Fiesta, yet we'd be reluctant to call it a supermini. It has sliding rear doors that open under their own power, yet it's not a van. Most bizarre of all is the fact it has no 'B' pillar -- the column down the centre of the car separating the front and rear doors.

Why is this magical and different? Well, the absence of a B-pillar means you get absolutely acres of space to get in and out. With both front and rear doors open, there's an enormous 1.5-metre wide chasm you could probably slide a hippo into.

There's ludicrous amounts of legroom and headroom, too. We waded nonchalantly into the rear and almost didn't know whether to sit, lie down or hold a rave under the full-size panoramic glass roof, such was the space we enjoyed.

Our only concern was that the lack of a B-pillar would leave the B-Max vulnerable to side-impact crashes or more likely to wobble around like an automotive jelly with nothing to hold it up in the middle. Ford is adamant there's no cause for concern, however. The front and rear doors themselves act as a virtual B-pillar, with special interlocks and reinforced latch mechanisms ensuring the doors remain fixed to the roof and floor structure during a crash.

Up front, the B-Max is just as comfortable and spacious, with more tech than we'd expect in a car of this size. Users get a 6-inch touchscreen mounted in the centre of the dashboard, providing easy access to various features and settings including a satellite-navigation system and Bluetooth phone control. It also accepts various audio sources, including radio, auxiliary CD and USB.

The B-Max will be powered by an eco-friendly, 1-litre, three-cylinder, turbocharged engine. Ford is remaining tight-lipped on economy and emissions figures for the moment, but it should be pretty decent given there's also a stop-start system that cuts the power when the car is at a standstill, restarting it again in an instant when you want to start moving.

So far, there's very little to fault with the Ford B-Max -- except perhaps the colour of the car Ford chose to display at the Geneva Motor Show. The B-Max will go on sale at some point in the near future, though Ford has yet to confirm an official launch date or price.

Click through our photos above to get a closer look.

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