Ford S-MAX 2.2 TDCi Titanium

MPV places as much emphasis on desirability as it does versatility

Put a stylish MPV body on the Mondeo platform and you get a formidable people carrier. We have been extremely impressed with the S-MAX since it went on sale in 2006, and awarded it the Best MPV prize in the 2008 Auto Express New Car Honours.

When space and practicality rule over all else, a seven-seat Galaxy is the only option. However, the S-MAX aims to provide accommodation for all the family in a more stylish and desirable package. Next to its stablemates, the S-MAX makes a statement. With aggressive angular headlamps, a stubby bonnet and huge windscreen, it strikes a balance between traditional MPV presence and sporty hatchback poise. Only at the rear does it look a bit overweight. Inside, daring styling has taken a back seat, but few will be disappointed. While the dash design isn’t as modern as the Kuga’s, much of the switchgear is shared with the Mondeo.

Drivers of conventional hatchbacks might take a while to get used to the more upright seating position, but it’s comfortable. And while Ford’s standard three and five-door models – including the new Fiesta – have old-fashioned lift-squab-first folding mechanisms, the S-MAX shows the company can be clever, too. With legroom adjustable between 670-810mm, the MPV’s three individual rear seats slide to offer more kneespace than any other model here. They tumble with the lift of a lever to leave a van-like luggage capacity, too. Our test car optimised capacity even further by having a sliding luggage deck in place of the standard sixth and seventh seats. The S-MAX has class-leading ride and handling. Even if it can’t quite match the agility of the hatch, with Comfort, Normal and Sport suspension settings, it’s a superb dynamic package.

Our 2.2-litre diesel flagship didn’t do as well at the test track as Ford claims, because it had only 600 miles on the clock. Still, few are likely to be better off with the larger unit. The 2.0-litre TDCi is more economical, less than a second slower over 0-60mph and £1,000 cheaper. It’s a superb all-rounder, then, and the most spacious model here, but does that make it the best family option?

Details

Price: £24,045Model tested: S-MAX 2.2 TDCi TitaniumChart position: 2WHY: With 2.2 diesel flagship, S-MAX is pushing upmarket, but practicality is still main strength.

Economy

A big car means big bills, and the huge S-MAX is no different. At £24,045 it is the most expensive model in this test – that’s a hefty £5,200 more than the Focus. Judging by our research it will also have the largest servicing bills, while fuel economy of 35.6mpg is nothing to write home about, either. It does retain more of its value than both its Focus and Mondeo brothers, though, thanks to a solid residual of 41.6 per cent.

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