Ford S-MAX (2015) Review
Ford S-MAX (2015) At A Glance
Ford gives you a choice of seven-seat MPVs. For maximum practicality and flexibility, there’s the Galaxy. For a little less practicality but more driving fun, there’s the Ford S-MAX. Although you’re unlikely to be driving like Lewis Hamilton with six passengers in your S-MAX, because it’s based on a Mondeo, it’s actually very good to drive. Rivals include the Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer and Renault Grand Scenic, plus seven-seat SUVs like the SEAT Tarraco and Peugeot 5008.
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Launched in 2015, the current Ford S-MAX picked up where the old S-MAX left off by offering something different in the shrinking MPV segment. It’s not the most practical car in its class – the Galaxy is the best choice if you’re after a genuine seven-seater – but few MPVs are as nice to drive as the S-MAX. In fact, the S-MAX is sweeter to drive than many SUVs and estate cars.
It’s not the best choice if you intend to make full use of the seven seats all of the time. Space in the third row is restricted, while the absence of sliding rear doors gives cars like the Seat Alhambra, Volkswagen Sharan and Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer the edge over the S-MAX.
As a ‘5+2’ MPV, the Ford S-MAX gets close to winning class honours. There’s a cavernous boot in five-seat mode, but you can transform the S-MAX into something akin to a van by lowering all five rear seats. The driver and front seat passenger will revel in the amount of headroom on offer, while parents will appreciate the three Isofix points along the middle row.
It gets better, because the S-MAX comes loaded with a generous level of standard equipment. The Zetec trim includes the likes of 17-inch alloy wheels, heated windscreen, an eight-inch colour touchscreen infotainment system, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, cruise control, dual-zone climate control, sports seats, front and rear parking sensors, and automatic wipers.
Given the spec, you have to question whether it’s worth upgrading to the Titanium or ST-Line models. Only a few people will opt for the flagship Vignale edition. Although it comes with plenty of kit, it costs around £42,000, which puts it deep into premium territory.
It’s not lacking in quality. The cabin has an upmarket feel, even in the Zetec model, although some of the cosmetic upgrades in the higher trim levels help enhance the level of perceived quality. The exterior styling just about manages to separate the S-MAX from the Galaxy, but your neighbours will still think you’ve arrived home in an airport taxi.
The petrol engines have been ditched, which is no great loss because the 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesel provides the perfect blend of performance and economy. The 150PS version is up to most challenges, but a 190PS version and all-wheel-drive are available if you demand more from your S-MAX. Whichever model you choose, you’ll enjoy the excellent cornering, minimal body-roll and sharp steering.
So what’s the catch? It’s arguably too expensive when new, although it’s better value on the second-hand market. If you’re not too fussed about styling or dynamics, the Galaxy probably makes more sense. It’s also an MPV, which makes it about as fashionable as a ‘Rachel haircut’ and a Union Jack mini dress.
Beyond that, we’re struggling to find reasons why you shouldn’t buy a Ford S-MAX. It’s as much an estate car as it is an MPV, which gives it a unique position in a dwindling market. For that reason, it deserves to be on your shortlist.