In-depth reviews

Ford S-MAX MPV review

The S-Max is an MPV with a lot to offer. Cleverly conceived and brilliantly executed, the Ford has very few weaknesses in any area. Families need look no further.

Overall Auto Express Rating

5.0 out of 5

Price
£30,700 to £40,385

Styling/Image

The S-MAX isn't quite the future of motoring, but thanks toits sporty stance, the Ford doesn’t look huge. The roof slopes down at therear, while the details, such as the prominent front foglights and side vents,set it apart. Competitors are fairly wide ranging, and include the VauxhallZafira, Mitsubishi Grandis and Renault Scenic. Ford also sees it as a rival topremium estates such as the Audi A4 Avant and BMW 3-Series. Pay an extra £1,500for Titanium over Zetec and bigger alloys, sports seats and privacy glass lendthe S-Max more menace.

Interior/Practicality

Inside, it's similar to the Galaxy, as both share the sameseating layout. Called the Fold Flat System, it creates a useable load areawithout the need to lift out heavy chairs. Middle row seats slide back and forthtoo, and also fold for easy access to the rear. The cabin also exudes an air ofquality, with high-class dashboard materials and tight-fitting trim. Upgrade toZetec for simple luxuries – dual zone climate control and leather steeringwheel – but despite the extra cost, Titanium makes most sense with park assist,ambient lighting and auto headlights. Tempting is a panorama glass roof for £700.

Engine/Performance

Despite undercutting the platform-sharing Galaxy by a fairmargin, the S-MAX is expensive compared to rivals, with the 2.0-litre petrol agood way of saving money for those not covering enough miles to recoup theadditional cost of either the 1.8- or 2.0 TDCi. And the extra £700 is worthpaying for the larger of the two diesels. It’s noticeably quicker but notthirstier than the 1.8 TDCi. And while tempting, the fuel consumption of theturbocharged 2.5-litre - shared with the rapid Focus ST - is too high (25-30mpg) toseriously consider.

Driving experience

The S-MAX is easily the class's best handling and ridingMPV. Even so, it's not as sporty as Ford wants you to think, with plenty ofbody roll and steering that can't match the C-MAX or Mondeo for sharpness.Avoid optional 18-inch alloys and sports suspension as they ruin the ride. Ford’sContinuous Control Damping (CCD) makes more sense for around £600, offeringdrivers the choice of Sport, Normal or Comfort settings. Consider cruisecontrol (£300), bi-xenon headlights (£650) and electric park brake (£150) as they're useful and are desirable options when resale time comes.

Ownership Costs

The Ford is the strongest residual performer of the sectorat 48 per cent, with the smaller diesel - the 1.8 TDCi LX - enjoying thehighest figure at 50.9 per cent. Expect 45mpg for the two TDCis, but businessusers will be interested to know the smaller diesel sits one tax band below the2.0 TDCi due to lower emissions. Ford has the largest dealer network in the UK,and some of the lowest servicing prices, although 12,500-mile intervals are lessimpressive.

Safety/Environment

All buyers will be impressed by the S-MAX's safety, with adriver kneebag and curtain bags in the first and second row, plus a very stiffstructure and a full five-star Euro NCAP rating. Ford is mid-way throughrolling out its ECOnetic badge to Focus, Mondeo and Fiesta with no word onwhether S-MAX will get the low emission technology. Drivers of the peoplecarrier would benefit from lower tax bills if it did.

Our Choice 2.0 TDCi 140 Zetec

Engines, performance and drive

0

MPG, CO2 and Running Costs

0

Interior, design and technology

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Practicality, comfort and boot space

0

Reliability and Safety

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Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    2.0 EcoBlue Zetec 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £30,700

Most Economical

  • Name
    2.0 EcoBlue Zetec 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £30,700

Fastest

  • Name
    2.0 EcoBlue 190 ST-Line 5dr Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £37,400

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