Ford S-MAX (2015) Review

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Ford S-MAX (2015) At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
It’s not the cheapest family car you can buy, and it looks a little too much like the Galaxy, but for practical fun, the S-MAX is hard to beat.

+Upmarket cabin with impressive refinement, comfortable and satisfying to drive, spacious and versatile, no other MPV is as good to drive

-Rearmost row a little tight for adults, expensive compared to some rivals.

Insurance Groups are between 16–27
On average it achieves 76% of the official MPG figure

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.

Looking for a Ford S-MAX (2015 on)?
Register your interest for later or request to be contacted by a dealer to talk through your options now.

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.

Ask Honest John

Could you suggest a family car to replace a Mazda 5?
"Our Mazda 5 was written off recently. We don't need five seats but we do like the space. We have a budget of £8000-10,000. Any advice what we should replace it with? Thanks."
If you want another MPV then the Ford S-MAX could be a good replacement: Alternatively, if you want a crossover with a raised driving position, you may want to consider the Honda CR-V:
Answered by Dan Powell
Are there any cars with sliding doors that fit three child seats?
"I want a car or MPV with sliding doors for a family of three kids and two adults. I currently have a Ford S-MAX and we can get three child seats in the middle row but obviously that doesn’t have sliding doors. I’m considering the Mazda 5 but want to know if the middle row will hold three seats. We don’t want to go as big as the SEAT Alhambra. Hope you can help."
Unfortunately, the Mazda 5 is not compatible with what you want. It's very unlikely to seat all three kids in the back - and it only has two Isofix anchor points in the second row anyway. That leaves you with two options (unless you can think of an alternative model I haven't): 1) a larger car like the Sharan or MPV with sliding doors, 2) a slightly smaller car without sliding doors. You're unlikely to get a smaller car with sliding doors, essentially. Here are some models that fit three child seats across the back (but not all have three Isofix points): 1)Audi Q7 2) Peugeot 5008 3)VW Touran 4) VW Sharan/SEAT Alhambra 5) Citroen C4 Grand Picasso 6) Ford Galaxy 7) Renault Grand Scenic 8) Citroen C5 Aircross (two outer seats get isofix mounts) 9) Vauxhall Combo Life/Citroën Berlingo/Peugeot Rifter (second row gets 3 isofix points and fits 3 child seats, but the third row with two seats isn't suitable for car seats. It has sliding doors but is obviously much larger than your S-MAX as it's van-based). 10) Volvo XC90
Answered by Georgia Petrie
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
What is the best used family car for £12,000 with three full seats in the back and a good boot?
"What is the best used family car for £12,000 with three full seats in the back and a good boot?"
You'll need something fairly big for three full seats in the back. Consider a Ford S-MAX or SEAT Alhambra.
Answered by Andrew Brady

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

Buy new from £29,250 (list price from £30,955)