Car Review: Ford - S-Max  Series 06 (5 stars)

The Ford S-Max moves the goalposts for MPVs, shoots, scores

There are some men who approach their inevitable days of seven seats and slab sides with a sort of weary resignation, other who have to be dragged there kicking and screaming. You see the classified ads of the former, selling their beloved sports saloon and oozing bitterness.

But Ford says that it doesn't have to be that way - the Galaxy people carrier remains in the range, but now it has a younger sibling, something slightly smaller and infinitely more sporting. The S-Max is the seven-seat MPV for those who feel they are too young to be consigned to a life of third lane blues.

One of the principal attractions of the S-Max over the Galaxy would appear to be its price - it costs around £2,500 less on average. A Galaxy owner might start to wonder what that money actually gets them, for the S-Max makes a strong case for itself as a refined place to be.

Where the Galaxy works as a full-time seven-seater, the S-Max is actually more of a 5+2, as Ford calls it. The rearmost two seats are for occasional use and will probably be reserved for smaller children. If you only need five seats most of the time then the two at the back will be perfect for the odd moment when you need the extra room.

In a turn up for the books, the strongest engine in the line-up here is the 2.0-litre Ecoboost petrol unit. Usually we would be extolling the virtues of the diesel engines in such an MPV, but the petrol doesn't lose any ground to the diesels, with similar torque and perfectly reasonable economy.

The petrol engine suits the varied nature of the car. It is hushed and refined for motorway cruising and yet has enough power in reserve when you want to get going. It's the steering takes you by surprise however. It is an engaging car to drive, and the suspension keeps the car quite level even during more enthusiastic cornering.

It's a mark of the S-Max's quality that you can be driving it and forget that you're steering a seven-seat MPV about the place. It challenges what we expect from an MPV - it now doesn't have to mean a massive compromise if you enjoy your driving. It's a touch expensive, but the quality and reliability of Fords has risen in recent years such that it deserves utmost consideration.

Ford S-Max Series 06 StatisticsCar Reviews

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