- We like...The way it drives
- We don't...It's quite expensive
Seats five adults and a couple of kids, but dsn't look like a bus - or drive like oneWith the S-Max, Ford decided to bring the words ‘I want one’ to the lips of mums and dads everywhere. Where other seven seaters look fit for the job they’ve to do and, frankly, a bit spud-like, the S-Max tries some new tricks.
It blends in elements of off-roader and sports car with the base genes of a people-shifter. And, judging by the many you see buzzing around, it’s worked well. But there are compromises. Despite costing more than seven-seat rivals like the Grand Scenic and Citrn’s C4 Picasso, it’s tight on space for those in the two rearmost perches, and Ford nods to this by describing the seating set-up as ‘5 + 2’. There’s more than enough space in the front and mid rows, however, and there are three broad seats amidships.
But what the S-Max loses in passenger space, it wins back in usefulness. Each of the seats folds flat rather than lifting out and, when they’re slotted away, there’s the room you’d find in a mid-size parcel van. And, even when every seat is in use, there’s still space for a couple of holdalls behind them. In some rivals the luggage areas all but disappears when every seat is needed.
The seats are lower than in most other MPVs, so you feel more as if you’re in a car. Whether that’s good or bad depends on whether you prefer the extra visibility MPVs and their high-set seats commonly provide.
It’s classy inside and stuffed with airbags – nine in all – and earns itself the five-star maximum for occupant safety from Euro NCAP. The handle-style handbrake looks fussy but is easy to use and frees up a little extra storage space. The cabin looks classy, although some of the plastics used low-down in it look and feel rather cheap.
To drive, it feels much like another Ford, the much-praised Mondeo saloon and hatchback, so it’s quick and surprisingly light-footed for a seven-seater. But despite this, its control through the corners and firm but supple ride means it can be driven with verve but without unsettling its passengers. Of the six engines and four trim levels available, we’d pick the mid-powered turbodiesel, the 2.0-litre 140bhp version, and Zetec trim, which is one level up from bottom. The engine pulls well but remains smooth and relatively quiet, and promises up to 44mpg overall. At £21,000, this model is no steal. By comparison, the equivalent Volkswagen Touran is £1500 cheaper.
So whether you pick the S-Max turns on how much you like the way it drives. We like it – but other cheaper rivals offer better space for passengers. And, for us, that’s what counts most if you’re after an MPV.
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- Engines2.0 TDCi
- 0-60 mph9.7sec
- Insurance groups11
Motors.co.uk value verdict: