When the time came to replace the original Galaxy, Ford decided to go it alone. The all-new model arrived in 2006, and it has recently been refreshed with a mid-life update. As a result, it remains one of the sharpest-looking people carriers around.
With a more dynamic shape, prominent arches, a curvy nose and neat detailing, it has the edge over its rivals in the style stakes. The car in our pictures is a top-spec Titanium X version and, as with the Titanium model tested, it has an executive air thanks to standard privacy glass, 17-inch wheels and chrome exterior trim. Traditional back doors mean you don’t get ugly runners on the rear panels, although the set-up proves nowhere near as user-friendly in tight car park spaces.
Once inside, the Ford is marginally bigger than its newer rivals. Its layout and the operation of the seats is identical – the middle row chairs slide and fold flat individually, while the rearmost pair tumble into the boot floor. There’s more legroom in the third row, so the Ford is the most comfortable choice when carrying seven adults.
Titanium models come with a full-length overhead console as standard, so there’s plenty of cabin stowage, and the glass panels of the optional panorama roof (£1,000) add to the feeling of space.
It’s equally impressive up front, where a huge range of wheel and seat adjustment means it’s easy to find an excellent driving position.
There’s an upmarket feel to the cabin, too. With its triple air vents and smart metal-effect switches, the dash is attractive and well laid out. And apart from a few cheap plastics in out-of-the-way places, cabin quality is easily a match for the VW Group duo.
Crucially, thanks to much narrower A-pillars and large quarter-light windows, the Galaxy doesn’t suffer from the same nasty blind spots as its rivals. The bigger glass area also makes it easier to place on the road, and this, combined with its perfectly weighted controls, means the Ford is surprisingly enjoyable to drive. The steering is precise, while excellent body control, lots of grip and strong brakes ensure that the Galaxy has the same sharp dynamics as other blue oval models.
Aside from the odd fidget over rough town roads, the ride is excellent, and high-speed refinement is impressive. The 2.0-litre TDCi engine comes in 113bhp, 138bhp and 161bhp forms.
Unsurprisingly, the 161bhp model has a performance advantage over its rivals in this test, but the 138bhp unit is a direct match for them and undercuts the more powerful version on costs.
In fact, opt for this variant, and the Galaxy slots between the Sharan and Alhambra on price, plus it retains a smooth power delivery and positive throttle response. The question is, does the Ford do enough to take top honours?
Chart position: 1WHY: The Galaxy is a superb all-rounder, and a recent facelift has freshened up the looks. Revised diesels add to first-class driving dynamics.