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
- New prices start from £28,395, brokers can source from £22,218
- Contract hire deals from £288.05 per month
- Insurance Groups are between 16–27
- On average it achieves 75% of the official MPG figure
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.
What does a Ford S-MAX (2015) cost?
Ford S-MAX (2015): What's It Like Inside?
- Euro NCAP rating of five stars
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.
What's the Ford S-MAX (2015) like to drive?
- Engines range from 1.5T EcoBoost 160 to 2.0T EcoBoost 240 Automatic
- Readers report Real MPG to be between 19–50 mpg
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.
|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.
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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