STYLE and fun are two adjectives you wouldn't normally associate with a mini-MPV.

A quick look in Wikipedia describes an MPV - Multi Purpose Vehicle - as a 'closely associated derivative of a panel van', which hardly makes you want to go out an buy one.

And yet after three days with the new 2011 Ford C-Max, style and fun just about sum up the Blue Oval's latest offering.

The reason why lies underneath. The C-Max is the first car to be built on the new Focus platform and gives a real clue about what Ford's best-seller will drive like.

A beefed-up shell, especially around the suspension pick-up points, means the C-Max is tremendous to drive.

The razor-sharp handling, allied to a super-smooth ride that soaks up the worst of Britain's appalling roads, make you forget that you are a car wider and taller than the average car.

On cross-country A and B roads, the C-Max is poised and agile, the combination of great steering feedback and eager response from the 1.6-litre petrol engine make driving a real pleasure for the enthusiastic driver.

All the petrol engines offered in the C-Max range are 1.6-litre, starting with the normally aspirated 104bhp, and rising to the new turbo-powered Ecoboost.

Aimed at drivers who don't cover big enough mileages to need a diesel, the Ecoboost has 148bhp on tap - enough to give a top speed of 127mph (where permissable) and a welcome 42.8mpg (combined).

If the new chassis has underpinned a huge improvement in driving dynamics, Ford's engineers have done the same with the exterior and interior.

One look at the front of a C-Max, which continues the much-vaunted Kinetic Design and you know it's a Ford.

Inside it's another matter. If you haven't been inside a Ford for a while, you're in for a shock.

Put your thumb over the Blue Oval badge on the steering wheel, and you'd think you had jumped in a BMW or Mercedes. It's that good.

The quality of the fabrics and soft-feel plastics are a quantum leap from a decade ago, and give the cabin a real air of opulence.

It's helped by Ford's determination not to cut corners on standard items.

The 'basic' Zetec version boasts air-con, DAB radio, traction control and heated front windscreen among many more.

The Titanium version, tested here, adds 17-in 15-spoke alloys, ambient lighting amd cruise control.

With a price starting at £17,195 for the 105PS Zetec and rising to £22,445 for the 140PS TDCi Titanium, the competition have every reason to be worried.

Against other compact MPV's the new C-Max is simply in another league. Throw in Ford's highly-rated dealer network for added peace of mind and it's an unbeatable combination.

The 2011 Ford Focus C-Max 125PS Titanium tested here was loaned by Greyhound Ford, Whalley Road, Accrington BB5 5EG.

For a test drive contact the sales team, tel: 01254 380710 or visit