Review: Ford S-MAX (2015)


Upmarket cabin with impressive refinement. Comfortable and satisfying to drive. Spacious and versatile. Has a spare wheel.

Rearmost row a little tight for adults. Expensive compared to some rivals.

Ford S-MAX (2015): At A Glance

Ford managed to crack a winning formula with the previous S-MAX and it continues with the new model. It’s big, practical and comfortable, yet it feels upmarket and classy. Plus it is seriously good to drive – whether cruising long distance on the motorway or on a country road.

The S-MAX has seven seats as standard, with two that fold easily up and down from the boot floor using fabric pulls. These are really for occasional use, but the middle row is altogether more useful – offering enough space for adults and a lot of adjustability, thanks to individual sliding and reclining mechanisms.

When not hauling passengers, the S-MAX is capable of swallowing up plenty of cargo. In five-seat configuration there is 700 litres of boot space - enough several hefty suitcases – or you can fold the middle row down and liberate a van-like 2200 litres. A wide, electronically operated tailgate and low boot floor make access easy.

Up front the S-MAX feels like the latest Mondeo, with a neat and upmarket dashboard along with an easy-to-use centre console, featuring the SYNC 2 touchscreen infotainment as standard. The driving position is low down, which contributes to a more saloon-like driving experience than you’d expect from a people carrier.

There are six engine choices. Petrol options are a 1.5-litre with 150PS and a 2.0-litre with 240PS, but one of the 2.0-litre TDCi diesels makes more sense. Power outputs range from 120 to 210PS, with the middle 150PS and 180PS options the best choices when it comes to blending economy with performance. Both are officially capable of 56.5mpg.

For drivers who don’t want to sacrifice an enjoyable drive and an upmarket interior for the sake of more family-friendly space, the S-MAX is ideal. There are more spacious options, including Ford’s own Galaxy, as well as cheaper alternatives such as the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso but, as an all-round, do-it-all family car, the S-MAX is hard to beat.

Ford S-Max 2.0TDCI 2015 Road Test

What does a Ford S-MAX (2015) cost?

List Price from £30,821
Buy new from £23,611
Contract hire from £288.05 per month

Ford S-MAX (2015): What's It Like Inside?

Length 4796 mm
Width 2137 mm
Height 1655 mm
Wheelbase 2850 mm

Full specifications

From the front two seats the latest S-MAX is very much like the Mondeo, with a saloon-like driving position and classy finish. That saloon-car feel continues when on the go – engine, wind and tyre noise are very well supressed, making the S-MAX feel more luxurious than you would expect from an MPV.

The dash design is neater than in the previous S-MAX, with the SYNC 2 infotainment system as its centrepiece. This is fairly intuitive to use with four clear menus, one each for phone connectivity, music, navigation and in-car settings. The voice control function is quite impressive too, if only for simple requests like an increase in temperature or to navigate home. 

Instrument dials are clear and easy to read, plus they feature a multi-function digital display which can be set to show anything from the current music track to the speed limit on the road, thanks to sensors that read road signs. This information can even be fed into the cruise control, making it adapt its speed to the current limit. 

Ford might have made the S-MAX more upmarket and high-tech, but it hasn’t forgotten the basics. All cars have seven seats as standard and it’s very easy to change the configuration. The middle row can be folded with a button press, while the rearmost row can be raised and lowered easily using fabric pulls.

Space for passengers in the middle row is very generous. The seats can be individually moved back and forth and reclined, plus there is enough head and leg room for adults to sit in comfort, even on a long journey. The same can’t be said for the back row, which is really for short journeys and children, since leg room is on the tight side even with the middle row slid forward.

The other problem with the rear row is that it eats into luggage space. With the back seats in place there is only 285 litres to the roofline, versus a generous 700 litres to the load cover in five-seat mode or a huge 2200 litres to the roofline with all the rear seats folded flat. However, access is good, with a wide opening and a low load deck, plus there is an electric tailgate for hands-free entry.

Trim levels are familiar Ford, with Zetec, Titanium and Titanium X options. All models get alloy wheels, SYNC 2 infotainment, air conditioning, DAB radio and keyless start, while upper trim levels gain advanced technology including active lane keep assistance, automatic wipers, automatic lights and cruise control with an adaptive speed limiter.

Standard Equipment from launch

Zetec models come with 17-inch alloys, SYNC 2 with 8-inch touchscreen, front and rear parking sensors, emergency assistance, keyless start, Thatcham alarm, DAB radio, sports seats, power fold mirrors, MyKey, mini spare wheel, tonneau cover, Isofix attachment (second row) and an electric handbrake.

Titanium adds Ford DAB Audio and Navigation, privacy glass, rain sensing front wipers and automatic headlights, LED daytime running lights, keyless entry system, Lane Keeping Aid, Traffic Sign Recognition, cruise control with adjustable speed limiter and body coloured trim.

Titanium X adds 18-inch alloy wheels, full body styling kit, rear spoiler, sports suspension plus heated front seats.

Child seats that fit a Ford S-MAX (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.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the Ford S-MAX (2015) like to drive?

The latest S-MAX isn’t quite as sharp to drive as the outgoing car, but what it lacks in dynamism it more than makes up for in refinement. In fact it feels a lot like a Mondeo from behind the wheel, with a fairly low down driver’s seat, very little cabin noise and a smooth, comfortable ride. But that’s not to say it doesn’t handle well – it is still seriously surprising through corners.

The steering is neat and accurate and while it lacks the feedback of the smaller C-MAX, there is more grip than you would ever expect from a big MPV. If you’re a keen driver then the S-MAX is still the king of the seven-seat people carriers, but it’s also easy and relaxing to drive on A-roads and in town when all you want to do is get from A to B.

Ford offers a wide choice of engines, including a 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol with 160PS and a 2.0-litre EcoBoost petrol with 240PS, but diesel power will be the mainstay of the range. The diesel engines are all 2.0-litre, with outputs of 120PS, 150PS, 180PS and 210PS. The vast majority are expected to be either 150PS or 180PS.

That makes perfect sense – both offer an excellent blend of impressive torque output and reasonable running costs. In fact there is nothing to separate the 180PS and 150PS engines when it comes to economy – both are officially capable of 56.5mpg in front-wheel drive form, with emissions of 129g/km in front-wheel drive, manual form

That means picking between them comes down to choice and budget. The more powerful engine, with its additional 50Nm (400Nm vs 350Nm for the 150PS engine) will be ideally suited to those who regularly carry a fully-loaded car, or tow trailers and caravans. The S-MAX is rated to tow a braked trailer of up to 2000kg in 150PS, 180PS and 210PS diesel configurations.

Also handy for those who tow is the optional all-wheel drive. Offered in conjunction with the Powershift automatic transmission in 180PS or a manual in 150PS form, the intelligent all-wheel drive system only kicks in when it’s needed – so when traversing a wet field or a slushy country road. With cold-weather tyres it would be a great family car in winter.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
1.5 EcoBoost 165 38 mpg 9.9 s 169–170 g/km
1.5T EcoBoost 160 44 mpg 9.9 s 149 g/km
2.0 TDCi 120 55–57 mpg 13.4 s 129–134 g/km
2.0 TDCi 150 57 mpg 10.8 s 129–132 g/km
2.0 TDCi 150 4WD 50–52 mpg 12.1 s 139–149 g/km
2.0 TDCi 150 Automatic 53 mpg 10.8 s 139 g/km
2.0 TDCi 150 Powershift 57 mpg 10.8 s 139 g/km
2.0 TDCi 180 57 mpg 9.7 s 129 g/km
2.0 TDCI 180 57 mpg 9.7 s 129 g/km
2.0 TDCi 180 4WD 49 mpg 10.5 s 149 g/km
2.0 TDCi 180 Powershift 49–57 mpg 9.5–10.5 s 134–149 g/km
2.0 TDCI 180 Powershift 51–57 mpg 8.8–9.5 s 134–144 g/km
2.0 TDCi 180 Powershift 4WD 49 mpg 10.5 s 149 g/km
2.0 TDCi 190 54–57 mpg 9.7 s 132–137 g/km
2.0 TDCi 190 Automatic 51–54 mpg 9.5 s 136–143 g/km
2.0 TDCi 190 Automatic 4WD 47–49 mpg 10.5 s 153–156 g/km
2.0 TDCi 210 Powershift 51 mpg 8.8 s 144 g/km
2.0 TDCi 240 Automatic 47–48 mpg 8.8 s 154–156 g/km
2.0T EcoBoost 240 36 mpg 8.4 s 180 g/km
2.0T EcoBoost 240 Automatic 36 mpg 8.4 s 180 g/km

Real MPG average for a Ford S-MAX (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.

Average performance


Real MPG

19–50 mpg

MPGs submitted


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.

What have we been asked about the Ford S-MAX (2015)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

My car's glass roof blind was found to be faulty while being checked as part of a trade-in deal. Do I have to pay for it to be fixed if I didn't know?

I returned to the Ford dealership where I bought my S-Max 2.5 years ago to trade-in for a new car. I was served by the same salesman as before. He test drove the car and found no faults, then started to check electric windows, air conditioning and so on. Again, no faults. Then tested panoramic glass roof blind. It was in the closed position as I have never used it. It is now stuck in the open position with some of the blind fabric trapped in one of the runners. The dealer insists it was a fault that they didn't know about, which I agree with but crucially I didn't know either. It's booked for some work to sort the roof blind issue but I do not want to be stuck paying for the whole amount. Any advice would be much appreciated.
You cannot hold the dealer liable for the faulty panoramic glass roof blind. By your own admission, the blind had never been used and this will have probably caused the runners to become gunged up with dust and dirt over the past 2.5 years. Obviously, you can make it clear with the dealer that this is a deal-breaker (if they are desperate for the sale they may overlook the cost of fixing the blind). But you cannot force them to fix it for free or accept the vehicle's condition as part of the part-exchange.
Answered by Dan Powell
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