RICK KRANZ

B-Max: Cute and innovative, but not for U.S.

Rick Kranz is product editor for Automotive News.

DETROIT -- The Ford B-Max is cute and functional, but it won't be sold in the United States.

That has one reader looking for loopholes in the law.

The B-Max is Ford's newest subcompact developed off the global Fiesta platform. An unveiling is planned next month at the Geneva auto show.

Is the B-Max a five-door hatchback or a mini-minivan? Ford simply calls it an innovative small car.

The standout feature? Sliding rear doors, a la minivan. Additionally, Ford engineered the B-Max without a B-pillar to make the vehicle easier to enter and exit.

When the doors are open, the unobstructed, wide open span stretches from the A-pillar to the C-pillar, about five feet. The doors operate independently, meaning the sliding doors can be opened if the front doors are closed.

The front passenger seat and rear seats fold forward, creating a flat load floor to carry a short ladder, furniture or a bicycle.

The B-Max is the big brother of the Fiesta five-door hatchback, adding about four inches in length and height.

Power comes from Ford's EcoBoost 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine. The engine combines direct fuel injection, turbocharging and twin independent variable cam timing. Horsepower and torque have not been released.

The B-Max is an attractive package. One U.S. reader laments the vehicle not being sold here. I received an e-mail this week from Mike, a reader who is fond -- very fond -- of the B-Max. Mike read a story about the B-Max concept that was unveiled last March at the Geneva show, and he heard about the upcoming production model.

"I am in love with this car. I want one so bad I will have to go to Europe to get one," Mike wrote.

"Please, can you tell me if there is any way I can get one in the USA other than putting it into a container?"

Sorry, Mike, the feds say there's no way you can bring the B-Max into this country. To get in, the B-Max must meet U.S. emissions and safety regulations.

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