Ford S-MAX vs BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer & Citroen Grand C4 Picasso
Ford is aiming high with its new S-MAX. Can it see off rivals from BMW and Citroen?
Sales of MPVs have taken a hit in recent years, as buyers turn their attention to upmarket SUVs and fashionable crossovers. However, makers haven’t given up on people carriers, and for many owners these cars provide unrivalled space and practicality.
Latest to join the fray is the all-new Ford S-MAX. It aims to build on the success of the trend-setting original, which brought new levels of driving fun, sophistication and upmarket desirability to the seven-seat MPV sector when it launched in 2006.
The second generation is bigger and better equipped, yet Ford claims it’s lost none of its huge driver appeal.
The S-MAX isn’t the only sharp-handling seven-seater, however, as BMW has just released its 2 Series Gran Tourer. Based on the already successful 2 Series Active Tourer, the GT is only the brand’s second front-wheel-drive model – although we test it here in xDrive four-wheel-drive guise.
Composed handling, top-notch quality and a classy interior are guaranteed, but can the BMW add family friendly versatility to the mix?
Setting the standard for the new arrivals is the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso. Fresh from being crowned Best MPV for the second year in a row at the Auto Express New Car Awards 2015, the adventurously styled Citroen leads the way for comfort, cutting-edge design, space and practicality.
Which of these roomy contenders will carry off the winner’s trophy?
Click the links above to read individual reviews, and scroll down to see which MPV comes out on top...
The BMW’s back seats are best suited to children, as they’re tricky to access for adults. Of the other two, the S-MAX’s middle row slides and tips forward to create the biggest entry to the rearmost seats. But once you’re seated, it’s the Grand C4 Picasso (above) that has the most leg and headroom. Standard panoramic glass makes it feel spacious, too.
Grafting Ford’s corporate nose on to the front has given the S-MAX an upmarket look, and in the flesh, it looks more dynamic than its predecessor. But it’s not as stylish as the Grand C4 Picasso, as the Citroen’s neat details make it look distinctive. In comparison, the BMW appears awkward.
The Ford is more expensive to buy than the Citroen, but the two are evenly matched for kit. The S-MAX offers more options, but they’re pricey. The BMW is more expensive than both cars, yet its better economy means everyday running costs should be fair.
1st place: Citroen Grand C4 Picasso
It’s our reigning large MPV champion, and the Grand C4 Picasso has seen off another pair of worthy rivals. While it’s not the fastest or most efficient choice, it’s good enough, plus the comfortable ride and acres of space more than compensate. Add a host of user-friendly interior touches, a top-value price and those concept car looks, and the Citroen is still the best seven-seat MPV you can buy.
2nd place: Ford S-MAX
The latest S-MAX is a grown-up evolution of the original. It’s comfortable, refined and feels well built, and is reasonably well equipped, too. The lack of driving dynamism is less of an issue here as in the Mondeo, while the clever folding seats are just a little bit tighter than the Citroen’s. However, if you need more room and must buy a Ford, the Galaxy might now be a better choice.
3rd place: BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer
The Gran Tourer fits the requirement for the BMW owner who wants a more practical family car, but the high price and tighter interior dimensions mean it’s hard to justify alongside these rivals. It’s impressively efficient considering the 4WD system, and it handles well, yet if you have to have a BMW that’s more versatile, we’d recommend the excellent 3 Series Touring every time.
Other options in this category…
SEAT Alhambra 2.0 TDI SE Ecomotive
Price: £28,675 Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 148bhp
Recently revised Alhambra provides unrivalled space, useful sliding rear doors and car-like driving dynamics. Its boxy design isn’t glamorous, yet it’s robustly built, well equipped and represents decent value for money.
Land Rover Discovery Sport TD4
Price: £30,695 Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 148bhp
The stylish Discovery Sport trails rivals here for outright space, but thanks to a seven-seat layout and big boot, it’s still practical. While it’s pricey, the Land Rover does benefit from an upmarket image and peerless off-road ability.
|Citroen Grand C4 Picasso 2.0 BlueHDi (15) Exclusive+||Ford S-MAX 2.0 TDCi (180) Titanium X||BMW 220d Gran Tourer xDrive Sport auto|
|On the road price/total as tested||£27,110/£30,680||£30,645/£36,145||£32,540/£41,120|
|Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000)||£10,925/40.3%||£12,871/42.0%||£14,513/44.6%|
|Annual tax liability std/higher rate||£1,028/£2,056||£1,407/£2,814||£1,494/£2,989|
|Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)||£1,446/£2,410||£1,449/£2,415||£1,379/£2,299|
|Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost||25/£355/B/£20||24/£360/D/£110||19/£375/D/£110|
|Servicing costs||£499 (3yrs/35k)||£390 (2yrs)||£425 (5yrs/50k)|
|Engine||4cyl in-line/1,997cc||4cyl in-line/1,997cc||4cyl in-line/1,995cc|
|Peak power/revs||148/4,000 bhp/rpm||178/3,500 bhp/rpm||187/4,000 bhp/rpm|
|Peak torque/revs||370/2,000 Nm/rpm||400/2,000 Nm/rpm||400/1,750 Nm/rpm|
|Transmission||6-spd man/fwd||6-spd man/fwd||8-spd auto/4WD|
|Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel||55 litres/repair kit||70 litres/space saver||61 litres/repair kit|
|Boot capacity (7/5/2 seat modes)||165/632-793/2,181 litres||285/965/2,020 litres||N/A/560/1,820 litres|
|Turning circle/drag coefficient||10.8 metres/N/A||11.6 metres||11.7 metres|
|Basic warranty (miles)/recovery||3yrs (60,000)/3yrs||3yrs (60,000)/1yr||3yrs (unlimited)/3yrs|
|Service intervals/UK dealers||20,000 miles (1yr)/196||18,000 miles (1yr)/781||Variable/153|
|Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos||20th/23rd*||25th/27th*||14th/22nd*|
|Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./stars||86/88/68/5||N/A||84/85/60/5 (Active Tourer)|
|0-60/30-70mph||9.8/9.2 secs||9.2/8.5 secs||7.6/7.4 secs|
|30-50mph in 3rd/4th||4.0/6.9 secs||3.9/6.1 secs||3.2/4.0 secs|
|50-70mph in 5th/6th/7th/8th||7.9/10.9 secs/N/A/N/A||7.6/10.2 secs/N/A/N/A||5.0/6.2/8.0/10.9 secs|
|Top speed/rpm at 70mph||130mph/1,900rpm||131mph/1,750rpm||135mph/1,750rpm|
|Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range||45.5/10.0/550 miles||45.4/10.0/699 miles||47.7/10.5/640 miles|
|Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket||166/105g/km/19%||167/129g/km/23%||159/128g/km/23%|
|Auto box/stability/adaptive cruise ctrl||£1,350/yes/£300||£1,550/yes/£900||Yes/yes/yes|
|Climate control/leather/heated seats||Yes/part/£2,000||Yes/yes/yes||Yes/£1,150/£295|
|Met paint/LED lights/power tailgate||£520/no/yes||£545/£1,000/£400||£550/£745/yes|