Sporty Ford S-Max showing off a softer side

PUBLISHED: 17:58 11 September 2015 | UPDATED: 17:58 11 September 2015

Ford's has refreshed its sporty seven-seater S-Max and worked its magic on the ride.

Ford's has refreshed its sporty seven-seater S-Max and worked its magic on the ride.


Ford’s S-Max has always been a driver’s car but now it’s comfortably better, says Matt Kimberley.

What’s new?

You might know the S-Max as the driver’s choice in the big multi-purpose vehicle segment, if there can realistically even be such a thing. An all-new version brings with it a sportier stance with a longer bonnet complete with ‘power dome’ – although the new suspension set-up suggests something quite different.

Looks and image

Ford S-Max

Price: Ford S-Max Titanium 2.0 TDCi manual, from £27,685 (range £24,545 to £32,260)

Engine: 2.0-litre, 150PS, four-cylinder turbo diesel

Transmission: Six-speed manual driving front wheels

Performance: 0-62mph 10.8 seconds; top speed 123mph

MPG: 56.6 combined

CO2 emissions: 129g/km

It’s a shame to these eyes that the S-Max has lost the distinctive high-mounted fog lights of old, but the introduction of the increasingly homogeneous Ford face ruled them out. It’s a big thing but clever design hides its proportions well.

The idea of a genuinely desirable ‘driver’s large MPV’ would be absurd if the proof wasn’t right here with sales of 400,000 since launch.

Space and practicality

While the Ford Galaxy is ultimately larger and more spacious than the S-Max, you can’t help but feel this car treads on the old stalwart’s toes a bit. Seven seats come as standard, and while third-row occupants will find themselves rather shut in and starved of legroom, until the middle row is pushed forward a bit. Plus, with all the seats in place, there isn’t much boot left. On the bright side, with the back seats folded down the S-Max’s boot is huge.

Behind the wheel

Ford has worked some of its magic on the ride. The big MPV is supremely settled and rumbles across all but the very worst bumps as though they’re barely there at all. Body roll is pronounced through bends as the sheer weight of the car makes itself felt but the relaxed cruising attitude it leaves you with is outstanding.

You feel the weight during acceleration, too, where the 2.0-litre TDCi diesel, normally so strong, is noticeably reined in. It’s best to stroke the big Ford up to speed gently and then sit back and chill in the amply proportioned seat. Heating for front seats is standard on this Titanium X car, and you can add cooling if you like.

It feels very large on the road, especially in width. Narrow roads get awkward when vans and other large cars come the other way. The vast expanse of dashboard between you and the windscreen is just a fraction of the distance between the steering wheel and the front bumper. Luckily, parking sensors are included.

Value for money

A decent S-Max is the thick end of £30,000, straying over that psychological boundary at the very top of the tree. But with a sleek interior design – overcrowded digital instruments aside – it garners enough of a premium feel to start to seem comparatively good value against prestige rivals. Residual values are vastly better than the outgoing model, too.

Who would buy one?

Perhaps for now, the main S-Max customers will be just as before – those who want that sporting pretension with plenty of space for the family. But this incarnation seems softer and more compliant than before, suggesting that older buyers with growing families who want more comfort than sportiness will come to appreciate the S-Max more than ever.

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Andy Russell

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EDP motoring editor, journalist who loves wheels and engines but hates cleaning them.

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