Ford has become one of the top brands that families go for, as many of its larger models offer great practicality and comfort in a stylish package.
But with SUVs taking more of the glory, MPVs are becoming less and less popular. However, Ford still offer three for customers to choose from.
With the C-MAX and Galaxy the bookends of the range, the S-MAX provides space for seven in a sleek shape and with a sportier setup.
But can the S-Max be a relevant competitor in the family car market? We get behind the wheel to find out…
Ford offers the S-MAX with four engine options – one petrol and three diesel. The 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol is the entry level option it develops 163bhp and is paired to a six-speed manual and front-wheel drive – while the 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesel is the base unit for the other three options.
Provided in 148bhp, 188bhp and 237bhp guises, all can be paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission – while the 148bhp and 188bhp units are offered with front- or all-wheel drive. All of the units provide more than enough pull under acceleration and even when the car is loaded with people or cargo, the S-MAX doesn’t struggle.
Ride & Handling
To ensure that the S-MAX is great to live with, Ford has given the MPV a balanced ride that can soak up the bumps on all but the roughest surfaces and is settled when cruising on the motorway. Due to the size and weight of the vehicle though, body roll is present when you turn into the corner with vigour.
There’s no denying that the S-MAX is a big car and it definitely feels it on the road, with the width of the vehicle making travelling down narrow roads a bit awkward. But Ford has ensured that the S-MAX is fun to drive by giving it light steering that helps it feel smaller than it is, while also being very precise – making the car very easy to place on the road.See Available S-MAX Deals
Interior & Equipment
There’s seating for seven inside – although if you choose to use the rear seats, passengers won’t have that much room and boot space is incredibly limited as there’s only enough stowage area for a couple of bags. But with the rearmost seats folded into the floor, the boot area is rather substantial – and if you need the full range of storage space, folding the middle seats down will reveal a 2,000-litre area. The boot floor is also quite low, so getting things in and out of the back won’t be too difficult either.
Offered in four trim levels – Zetec, Titanium, ST-Line and Vignale – the S-MAX comes with a decent level of equipment from the base spec, with features such as 17-inch alloys, all-round parking sensors, dual-zone air conditioning, Sync 3 infotainment system with an eight-inch touchscreen, sports seats, keyless start and Quickclear heated windscreen.
Opting for Titanium gets you LED daytime running lights, chrome detailing, lane keeping assist, traffic sign recognition and cruise control with speed limiter – while the sporty-looking ST-Line option offers 18-inch alloys, sports suspension, heated front seats, a sporty bodykit and a perforated leather steering wheel.
Starting from £28,395, the S-Max offers a quality package that can be a compelling alternative to similarly capable SUVs – especially with the space for seven passengers. Although Ford’s other seven-seater, the Galaxy, offers a bit more passenger space, it costs £1,600 more and is only really worth the extra expense if you absolutely need the extra room.
As you would expect, the diesel engines provide better emission and fuel usage figures, with the 148bhp EcoBlue engine offering 132g/km CO2 and up to 53.3mpg – while the rest of the diesel range can get close to 50mpg. The petrol EcoBoost option is the most inefficient in the range, developing 169g/km CO2 and returning up to 38.7mpg.
The habits of the UK car market have changed a lot in the last decade, with SUVs taking most of the sales of traditional MPV customers in recent years. But the Ford S-Max proves that the MPV still has a place on the road thanks to its useful packaging, practical interior and efficient diesel engines. It can show its weight from time to time – especially through the corners – but it remains well-behaved when cruising and is very comfortable over all but the harshest surfaces.