Ford B-Max 1.0-litre 125PS EcoBoost, Titanium, five-speed manual.

Price: £18,195 (on the road).

Top speed: 117mph.

0-62mph: 11.2 seconds.

Fuel: 57.7mpg (combined figure).

CO2 emissions (g/km): 114.

Verdict: Remarkably flexible motor, good to drive, low running costs, versatile, spacious, easy access, well equipped and great all-rounder.

A FEW years ago those motorists seeking economy would have automatically plumped for a diesel.

But not nowadays, as petrol motors have become more frugal and cheaper to buy in the first place.

A great example of petrol economy is Ford’s three-cylinder onelitre EcoBoost engine which returns almost the same mpg as a small diesel.

Don’t be fooled by its size, either, as the motor, already housed in several small and medium Fords, is refined and remarkably tractable with ample power on tap almost all around the rev band.

The turbocharged motor is certainly rewriting the small car rule book with the B-Max, a moderately- sized people carrier largely based on the big-selling Fiesta.

The tiny motor will be showing its capabilities further when it powers the new Mondeo, available by the end of next year.

The EcoBoost engine, which Ford says is small enough to fit into the overhead luggage compartment of an aeroplane, has quickly won world recognition and has twice gained the International Engine of the Year Award and many other plaudits.

And now Ford is to double production of the 1.0-litre EcoBoost unit from mid-August to meet the demand.

The motor really suits the B-Max which is an outstanding and goodlooking vehicle. However, in the top titanium trim and fitted with the larger-powered 125PS EcoBoost motor, it starts to look pricey at £18,195. However, it is well equipped as is the 100PS EcoBoost model, also available in the middle Zetec specification at £16,195. The entry-level studio trim 1.4-litre 90PS B-Max is priced at £12,995.

On the road, the B-Max, fitted with a slick five-speed manual gearbox, rides and handles really well, though when pushed hard through corners there is some slight body lean – as one might expect from a fairly tall vehicle.

But the car keeps its composure over some rough road surfaces and produces a comfortable, supple and generally quiet ride. The steering is also sharp and well weighted so that the driver soon gains an affinity with the car.

The gutsy 125PS motor has plenty of power on tap for most situations with the small turbo doing its job well – a tribute to Ford’s painstaking work in getting things right.

But the other big draw with the B-Max is the clever body structure - the combination of the lack of a central door pillar so that the rear doors slide backwards. This means that getting in and out of the rear is easy, as is loading large and awkward items. The 60:40 rear seats also fold flat and there is an adjustable load floor in the rear to add to the versatility.

And there should be no safety worries as the B-Max has gained a top -five-star rating in Euro NCAP safety tests.

Inside, the cabin is stylish, roomy and well laid out with many of the fittings borrowed from the Fiesta. However, the inside is somewhat bigger than the Fiesta, making the B-Max a more practical and compact family holdall.

Room in the rear is also generous for a car in this class with ample seating space for four, and five at a push and the boot is also a decent size.

The top Titanium specification includes plenty of equipment.

There is cruise control, auto airconditioning, rain-sensing wipers, auto headlights, DAB digital radio and heated windscreen.