Review: Ford S-MAX (2006 – 2015)
Strong blend of comfort and performance. Fun to drive. Standard equipment is high on all models.
Third row of seats are cramped. Boot is tiny when carrying seven. Cannot be fitted with a spare wheel.
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Ford S-MAX (2006 – 2015): At A Glance
The Ford S-MAX is one of the best family cars around, combining a large and practical cabin with a fun and rewarding drive. Admittedly, it lacks some of the high tech toys of its rivals, but Ford's seven-seater leads the way when it comes to handling, refinement and ride quality.
Standard equipment on the S-MAX is impressive and all models get parking sensors, dual zone air conditioning and sports seats. It also has a heated windscreen, capless refuelling and an aircraft-styled handbrake, although the latter takes a bit of getting used to.
The interior of the S-MAX is huge, with three rows of seats and up to 2000 litres of storage. The second and third row seats can be folded completely flat, which transforms the cabin into a practical van, capable of carrying mountain bikes, furniture and pets, with an optional load retention guard. There are some issues though. The seats are a fiddly to fold and boot space drops to a paltry 285 litres when in full seven-seater mode.
On the upside, the cabin is light and airy and there's plenty of storage, with a decent scattering of cubby holes. There's also an abundance of head and legroom for those sitting in the front two rows, but things are a little cramped in the third row, although it will be fine for kids.
The big Ford is great fun to drive, hiding its large dimensions with responsive handling, meaningful acceleration and minimal body roll in the corners. The cabin is also quiet, with little road or wind noise, which makes the S-MAX a comfortable car for long trips.
There's a wide choice of engines with seven diesels and three petrols to choose from. The entry level 1.6-litre EcoBoost will cover 0-62mph in a respectable 9.8 seconds, while the 2.0-litre units will rival most hot hatches for acceleration and top speed. The diesels are also good, although the 1.6 only has 115PS and needs a bit of work to get going.
When it comes to family cars, we cannot think of many that match the S-MAX for all round performance, practicality and style. In fact, we'd go so far to say it's one of the best family cars money can buy. It will also suit driving enthusiasts who want a rewarding and spacious MPV that will rival the Focus ST at the traffic lights.
What does a Ford S-MAX (2006 – 2015) cost?
Ford S-MAX (2006 – 2015): What's It Like Inside?
- Boot space is 285–2000 litres
Despite its sleek appearance, the Ford S-MAX is a surprisingly large, with seven seats and up to 2000 litres of storage. The cabin is bright and airy plus higher spec models get some nice touches such as LED lighting, a full-length panorama roof and rear seat air vents.
The driver gets a decent view of the road, thanks to slim windscreen pillars, and both the steering wheel and driver’s seat have plenty of adjustment. The S-MAX doesn’t sit as high as other MPVs, but the driver still gets a commanding view and the large wing mirrors provide plenty of visibility for parking and tight manoeuvres.
Parking sensors are fitted as standard and a rear-view camera is available as a paid for option. However, while the sensors provide some welcome assistance, we found the camera to be rather disappointing. It isn’t the best on the market and the display can be a little difficult to see in dark or wet conditions.
The infotainment system display also feels rather dated, although it is easy enough to use. The dashboard is almost identical to the one found in the Mondeo, with a simple and clear layout. But the chunky buttons on the steering wheel take a bit of getting used to.
The S-MAX does get plenty of equipment, with entry level models fitted with DAB radio, dual-zone air conditioning, Bluetooth and leather trimmed steering wheel. The Ford also gets an aircraft inspired handbrake, which feels somewhat strange to start with. We never grew to like to the handbrake and think it will be a Marmite feature for many drivers.
However, the S-MAX is a comfortable car to travel in and the front two rows of seats have plenty of head and leg room. There's also a third row of seats, but these are very cramped, with limited head and leg room. Adults will fit in the back, but it's unlikely they'll want to spend any meaningful time there. The S-MAX also loses a lot of boot space when operating as a seven-seater, with just 285 litres of storage. The S-MAX is far better suited as a five-seater, with 1171 litres of boot space.
Standard equipment levels:
Zetec gets 16-inch five-spoke alloy wheels with 215/60 tyres, stereo radio/CD system with eight speakers, steering wheel controls, heated electrically adjustable door mirrors, Quickclear heated windscreen, front and rear electric windows with one-touch and anti-trap feature, driver's seat power height adjustment and manual lumbar adjustment, sports front seats, leather-trimmed steering wheel and gearknob plus front and rear parking distance sensors.
Titanium versions add 17-inch five-spoke alloy wheels with 225/50 tyres, dusk sensor, rain sensor, auto-dimming rear view mirror, driver and front passenger under-seat storage, front and rear carpet mats, cruise control, plus dark tinted privacy glass for rear and side windows.
Titanium X Sport adds 18-inch Y-spoke alloy wheels, leather seat trim with red sports stitching, full-length panorama roof with powered sunblind, xenon headlights, side skirts, rear spoiler and a rear diffuser.
Child seats that fit a Ford S-MAX (2006 – 2015)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the Ford S-MAX (2006 – 2015) like to drive?
The S-MAX is built on the same platform as the Galaxy and benefits from an equally rewarding drive and comfortable ride. However, compared to its larger MPV relative, the S-MAX feels a lot more sporty, with shorter overhangs, reduced weight and stiffer suspension.
The S-MAX also sits lower on the road, which gives it a lower centre of gravity, making it feel more accomplished in corners.
In fact, the S-MAX pushes the MPV boundary to its limit, with sharp handling and excellent high speed stability. The front-wheel drive S-MAX sweeps through tight bends with ease and minimal bodyroll.
The steering is also perfectly weighted, which means you can push it into tight turns, without fretting over the usual MPV mid-corner wobbles. Even cross winds have little impact on the car's stability, which is commendable when you consider its considerable size.
There's also plenty of low speed appeal, thanks to agile handling and superb all round vision, which makes parking an easy task. Speed bumps and potholes can also be tackled without problem, although the higher spec models - with 18-inch alloy wheels - have a tendency to bump along at low speeds.
There's a wide choice of engine options to choose from, with three petrols and seven diesels. The petrol engines are all based on EcoBoost units, with power varying from 160PS to 240PS. As you might imagine, performance is strong and the even the entry level 1.6-litre engine will cover 0-62mph in under 10 seconds.
The diesels are impressive too, with power ranging from 115PS to 200PS. Fuel economy is also good with the entry level 1.6 TDCi offering an achievable 54.3mpg while the range topping 2.2-litre diesel with 200PS will offer a claimed 39.8mpg.
However, those wanting a good balance between power and economy would be suited with the 2.0-litre diesel, which emits the same amount of CO2 as the 1.6 (139g/km) but features 163PS and 340Nm of torque. However, as always, with that extra power comes reduced economy, with the 2.0 TDCi offering a claimed 53.3mpg.
Both of the entry level petrol and diesel engines are offered with a six-speed manual box, while the 2.0-litre EcoBoost engines are fitted with automatics. The diesel drivers do get more transmission choices, with the 1.6, 2.0 and 2.2-litre engines available with six-speed manual or six-speed automatics.
|1.6 TDCi Start-Stop||54 mpg||13.0 s||139 g/km|
|1.6T EcoBoost 160||42 mpg||9.8 s||159 g/km|
|1.8 TDCi||46 mpg||-||164 g/km|
|1.8 TDCi 6 Speed||46 mpg||-||164 g/km|
|2.0||35–35 mpg||10.5 s||189–194 g/km|
|2.0 Flexi-fuel||35 mpg||-||194 g/km|
|2.0 TDCi||44 mpg||-||159–169 g/km|
|2.0 TDCi 115||50 mpg||12.2 s||152 g/km|
|2.0 TDCi 140||53 mpg||10.2 s||139 g/km|
|2.0 TDCi 140 Powershift||50 mpg||10.9 s||149 g/km|
|2.0 TDCi 163||50–53 mpg||9.5 s||139–152 g/km|
|2.0 TDCi 163 Powershift||50 mpg||10.2 s||149 g/km|
|2.0 TDCi 163 PowerShift||47 mpg||-||159 g/km|
|2.0T EcoBoost 240||34 mpg||7.9 s||194 g/km|
|2.0T EcoBoost Powershift||35 mpg||8.5 s||189 g/km|
|2.2 TDCi||43 mpg||8.6 s||174–176 g/km|
|2.2 TDCi 175||43 mpg||-||174 g/km|
|2.2 TDCi Automatic||40 mpg||8.9 s||189 g/km|
|2.5||30 mpg||-||224 g/km|
Real MPG average for a Ford S-MAX (2006 – 2015)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.
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