Ford S-MAX TDCi

Classy diesel adds depth to MPV line-up

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

THEY say staying on top is harder than getting there in the first place – but it’s a trick the S-MAX has perfected, and this excellent new diesel engine is another string to its bow. Low emissions of 152g/km and fuel economy of nearly 50mpg speak for themselves, while muscular, refined performance and real car-like agility seal the deal. This is a truly superb people carrier. The only downside is the high price tag.

Has the best got even better? The S-MAX was crowned MPV of the Year at Auto Express’ New Car Awards 2010, and now Ford has added an extra dose of appeal with a mild facelift and new diesel engine.

The 2.0-litre Duratorq TDCi unit comes with 113bhp, 138bhp or 161bhp, and aims to serve up a blend of strong pace and low running costs. We got behind the wheel to see if it delivers.

Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Ford S-MAX

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Our 161bhp model is available only in mid-range Titanium and flagship Titanium X trim. The 113bhp variant, meanwhile, is offered solely in base Zetec guise, and the 138bhp in Zetec and Titanium.

Whichever version you choose, CO2 emissions are the same, at 152g/km with the six-speed manual (or 159g/km on models with the Powershift auto). The S-MAX has always sold on its on-road performance, and this engine raises the bar.

At motorway speeds, it gives plenty of torquey pulling power, for effortless overtaking. It’s impressively refined, too. But it’s equally at home around town, and will prove a quiet companion on the school run.

Ally this to brilliant handling, and the S-MAX is great to drive. The cabin, meanwhile, is as flexible as ever, with an easy-to-use seven-seater layout.

At £24,495, this S-MAX is no budget buy, even though it’s cheaper than previous comparable models. But it’s one of the best versions of what remains the finest people carrier around.

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