Ford’s S-Max dates from 2006 and is a sportier and sleeker version of that year’s new Galaxy MPV.
It had an update in 2015 when production moved from Belgium to Spain. The appeal remains. It seats seven and handles very well. It has a longer floor than most rivals and can carry a six-foot mattress with the seats folded away.
There is a choice of petrol and diesel engines – the latter better for high-mileage users, subject to the debate on CO2 emissions.
Discounts are being advertised by Ford as well as on comparison websites. For example, the entry price of £26,445 has a “promotional” price at the time of writing of £24,445. The plushly lavish Vignale model I tried with a 178bhp 2-litre diesel engine and manual gearbox was listed at £35,345 but you could expect the thick end of £3,000 off that price. This is Ford at its most luxurious. There are glittering chrome enhancements and pukka paint, higher quality leather seats with piping and tastefully quilted panels. Sony supplies the hi-fi.
There’s most of the stuff you’d expect – the power seats, a heated wheel rim for those frosty starts, an always useful rear camera , bespoke 19-inch alloys. The headlamps are adaptive and said to be glare-free. Maybe that is why the auto-dipping system didn’t always activate.
It’s still a pricey Ford – and the hands-free power tailgate was an extra £200, metallic paint added £545 to the pricing structure and emergency city-speed braking was part of a £900 package. Rear air con contributes £400. Room to wriggle on the showroom floor.
I’d be interested in an S-Max, a cheaper version than Vignale which just seems too much to pay for a Ford, if I wanted its size. The rear pair of seats (power folding) are not great for adults, but at least they give you seven-up capacity.
I see the popular appeal of the so-called SUV trend (Renault Kadjar, Volvo XC60 and dozens more) and Ford’s rather nice Edge sister on the same chassis as the S-Max, but the streamlined style of an S-Max is classy, or even classless. It is also good to drive. You have a slightly raised seating platform and deft handling. It runs quietly. The phone connection system was quick – much more so than most. It has two USB sockets – annoyingly, too deep in their compartment to make cable access and removal easy. There are lots of spaces for belongings and a particularly deep central box, with a handy top shelf.
The cabin width shames most rivals, measuring five feet between the door shoulders. Ford quotes 56.5mpg combined fuel consumption. The nearest I got – and not all that near – was 42mpg on the motorway. My 40-mile “commuter” drive was 36mpg.
Verdict: Trend-setting sporty people carrier. I like it.