While buyers are switching more to SUVs, there is still a firm place in the market for the humble MPV, which are typically more spacious and versatile than 4x4s of a similar size.
That’s certainly true for the Ford S-Max, which has been a popular addition to the firm’s range since it was introduced in 2006. The second-generation arrived on British shores in 2015, and to help the model remain fresh, Ford has given the model a light update for 2020.
Styling tweaks have helped to keep the model looking fresher than ever, while other mild tweaks include new 18-way adjustable electric seats and the introduction of FordPass Connect, which brings you a Wi-Fi hotspot for up to 10 devices and a whole host of other connected functions. But are these changes enough to make the Ford S-Max a compelling option next to more desirable SUVs?
The revised S-Max line-up features a simple engine range, with the sole option being a 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesel engine, which is available with outputs of either 148bhp and 187bhp.
Powering our test car was the more powerful 187bhp option, which delivered its power to the front wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. You can specify it with all-wheel-drive, too, which is something we recommend if you require that extra traction and stability.
It manages the 0-60mph sprint in a pleasing 9.3 seconds and can hit a top speed of 129mph. It’s therefore the quickest S-Max in the range, though it’s also relatively efficient – returning up to 43.5mpg, with CO2 emissions of 134g/km.
A hybrid S-Max is set to join the range at the start of 2021, which will offer an efficient alternative in the line-up.
Ride and handling
While MPVs aren’t going to be bought for the way they drive, if you’re looking for something that offers a bit of fun behind the wheel, there are few better options on sale than the Ford S-Max. It deals with its size well, offering little roll through the corners, while offering decent feedback through the steering wheel. Even on our test car’s large 19-inch alloy wheels, the ride remained comfortable, though we’d advise choosing smaller wheels if you want something as supple as possible.
Interior and equipment
Our top spec Vignale version certainly comes with plenty of premium touches – perforated leather seats with white piping being a particularly highlight. Elsewhere the quality isn’t quite so impressive, though, with the centre console being one of the S-Max’s areas of weaknesses – lacking the modern feel of rivals. The eight-inch touchscreen is one of the best around, though.
But as this is an MPV, space is absolutely key. It certainly doesn’t disappoint, with enough room for seven adults, though the third row of seats is best reserved for children as headroom and legroom can be limited. The boot is enormous, though – measuring up to 2,020 litres if you have all but the front two seats folded. With a completely flat load area, the space is incredible, and enough to rival a decent-sized van. There are also 32 seating configurations – showing the versatility of this model.
Four trims are on offer – Zetec, Titanium, ST-Line and Vignale.
Standard kit includes 17-inch alloy wheels, an eight-inch touchscreen, front and rear parking sensors and cruise control. Titanium adds keyless entry, satellite navigation, ambient interior lighting and further safety kit.
Moving further upmarket is the sporty-looking ST-Line, which adds 18-inch alloy wheels, electric front seats, a heated steering wheel and an ST-Line bodykit. Sitting at the top of the range is the plush Vignale – a model that features massaging, ventilated and heated front seats, a Sony sound system and adaptive LED headlights to name but a few highlights.
The S-Max range starts from £30,490 – meaning that it’s not the most affordable seven-seater on sale, though you do get plenty of kit as standard, as well as an impressive and spacious interior layout.
We’d advise going for a mid-spec version, purely because the top-spec Vignale model’s £40,660 starting price is just a bit too pricey.
While MPVs might be falling out of favour with new car buyers, models like the Ford S-Max prove there is plenty of life in these models.
Few SUVs could offer the versatility and spaciousness of the S-Max, while plenty of luxuries and a stylish look make this one of the most appealing people carriers on the market today, and undoubtedly a worthy option if you’re considering a seven-seat car.