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In-depth reviews

Ford S-MAX review - Practicality, comfort and boot space

Versatile and spacious, the S-MAX is well equipped for the needs of growing families

The S-MAX doesn't have the rear sliding doors of the SEAT Alhambra, or the rear seat practicality of its bigger brother, the Ford Galaxy, but it’s still an impressively well rounded family car – and a welcome alternative to the recent raft of seven-seat SUVs.

There’s just as much room inside as there was before, meaning three individual seats in the middle row, and a pair of smaller ones in the back. There are loads of cubbies and storage bins dotted around the cabin, and those in the rearmost seats even get a pair of cupholders to make longer journeys less painful for small kids. Boot space is decent although not as spacious as the Citroen, though with all seven seats in place you’ll be restricted to a few squashy bags rather than a plethora of hard-backed suitcases.

Boot

Just like the previous model, the Ford S-MAX is a very practical car. As before, you get 285 litres of boot space with all seven seats in place, and while that doesn't sound like much – it’s more than your average supermini. It’s more generous than most of its rivals, too, and should be enough for a few small bags.

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However, fold the rearmost seats flat and this expands to 965 litres, increasing to a van-like 2,020 litres with the middle row folded. That final figure means the sporty S-MAX is 169 litres bigger than the Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer, despite the slightly sloped roofline.

One quibble that we have is that there aren't many handy practical touches in the boot. There's just one bag hook, and under-floor storage is limited, with no space to store the load cover when it's not in use - but then that's the price you pay for having a third row of seats.

Leg room, head room & passenger space 

The rearmost seats are only really suitable for children, but the Easy-Entry system fitted to the middle row allows for decent access, with the bench tilting and sliding forwards in one sleek movement. All the seats fold flat individually, while buyers can spec buttons in the boot to lower them electronically – it's a neat trick. Ford claims there are a whopping 32 seating and loading combinations in the S-MAX so a trip to Ikea with a car full of people shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

If you have smaller children you’ll be pleased to hear that the three seats in the middle row also come with individual ISOFIX points which can also be used at the same time. There perhaps isn’t as much space in the S-MAX as you get in the Citroen, but you’re unlikely to get any complaints from passengers back there with decent head and legroom.

The interior is packed with useful cubbies, including places to stash odds and ends and all the associated family bits and bobs. The huge airline-style handbrake has been removed in favour of a simple electronic switch, freeing up space on the new minimalist dashboard. As you’d expect, the combination of a high seating position and slim A-pillars means you get a commanding view of the road, while the seats and steering wheel benefit from a wide range of adjustment, meaning it's easy to get comfortable.

Towing

The Ford S-MAX range has two maximum braked towing capacities based on engine and transmission choice. The lower of the two is set at 1,800kg, which is for S-MAX models with the discontinued 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol. However, if you are after the maximum that any new S-MAX can tow (2,000kg), you have a good range of Duratorq diesel engines to choose from.

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