From £23,050
Class-leader has just got even better - and cleaner

Our Verdict

Ford S-Max 2006-2014
A range-topping 237bhp Ecoboost engine gives the S-Max hot-hatch levels of performance

The Ford S-Max a highly accomplished car but it needs to be cheaper

1 February 2010

What is it?

This is the new Ford S-Max. Revisions to the exterior styling in keeping with the rest of Ford's Kinetic Design language disguise much greater developments under the bonnet.

The S-Max and its Galaxy sister MPV, the first Fords to get the Kinetic Design styling, are now the company's first cars to get the new high-efficiency 200bhp EcoBoost petrol engine. It comes as standard with the PowerShift double-clutch auto 'box, first seen in the Focus, which will also be available as an option with the new car's new Duratorq 2.0-litre diesel engines.

The technology will take the S-Max's CO2 emissions down to 189g/km for the Ecoboost and 152g/km for the for the most-efficient 2.0-litre Duratorq TDCi.

What's it like?

The visible changes are subtle both inside and out. They're really a quick refresher - a mid-cycle sharpener - and it's quite possible they'd go un-noticed by anyone who hadn't already owned an S-Max.

The proximity warning system lights are built into the door mirrors, rather than the A-pillar as they are in, say, a Volvo. The system is active from 20km/h (12mph), making it useful in town.

The new Ecoboost engine feels like it should loosen up well with the miles and reward enthusiastic driving. The example in our test car, with a couple of hundred miles on the clock, seemed a bit tight. It pulls well from low down and, combined with the sort of smooth ride to rival an executive saloon, this means the S-Max is a very comfortable car to drive in town.

On the open road, the changes between the six gears are smooth, although committed drivers will probably want to keep the box in sports mode, as the D setting is reluctant to shift into the lowest possible gear. Alternatively, you can move the gear stick (there are no paddles) forwards and backwards to shift through the gears manually.

It's difficult to compare ride and handling from country to country, but on the smooth Spanish roads the car felt sensational - like a large family hatch, not an MPV - and this certainly corresponds to our experiences of the S-Max we ran for a year. In fact, if anything the ride seems slightly better with a petrol rather than a diesel engine in the nose.

Should I buy one?

The S-Max was one of the best cars on the market, competing as an MPV so well against its unofficial family estate and luxury saloon rivals that it's remained in the top slot since launch. Nothing's changed there.

The plusher interior, sharper exterior styling and improved sound system have simply emphasised the fact that it's not just Vauxhall (Zafira), Mazda (5) and Peugeot (5008) who should worried, but also Mercedes (E-class wagon) and BMW (5-series Touring) as well.

Ed Keohane

Join the debate

Comments
21

1 February 2010

So we're playing "spot the difference" are we ? Looks the same to me.

Really hate the way "Ecoboost" is used to describe the engine , when it is purely a marketing term. "Eco" is bulls**t for green , and "Boost" implies that the engine has forced induction. Some kind of forced induction....

"Powershift" sounds like a new technique for chatting-up potential dates.

1 February 2010

Is this a replacement for the 2.3 litre I4 auto, or the 2.5t I5 manual ? - or both ?.

I know the Volvo sourced I5 is at the end of it's life cycle (with no new one on the horizon), but it's a shame if they don't replace it because it's a cracking engine with lots of character that made an S-Max far more interesting than it had a right to be.

Easily tuneable too - if that's your bag

It's disappointing that the latest twin turbo Volvo D5 engine isn't going in the Mondeo or S-Max either, that would be a fantastic package.

1 February 2010

Looks really nice in these pictures, a good improvement on the pre-facelift IMO.

1 February 2010

[quote Chips]Easily tuneable too - if that's your bag[/quote]

As soon as I saw the engine spec, my mind said "Fiesta RS"...

1 February 2010

[quote Uncle Mellow]Really hate the way "Ecoboost" is used to describe the engine , when it is purely a marketing term. "Eco" is bulls**t for green , and "Boost" implies that the engine has forced induction. Some kind of forced induction.... [/quote] Well, it's a forced induction engine (turbo) and its significantly more efficient than the old 2.3 with auto, despite having more power and torque. Therefore "ecoboost" is one of the better taglines they could go with - I mean, TFSI? TSI? I have no real issue with the tag.

2 February 2010

I think the facelift improves it, especially at the rear, I hated the rear before with its bland rear lights, the Galaxy got much nicer rear lights/tailgate etc. Will the Galaxy be getting a similar facelift?

Ive never understood why the S-Max gets so much praise, yes I havent driven one, yes I believe everyone who says how great it is to drive etc. But I have sat in the rear of one, & at the end of the day its just a Galaxy with a lower roof. Im sure most previous Galaxy owners never thought, "I love this car. But it feels too spacious and practical. If only it had less headroom." One of the great benefits of an MPV is the airy, spacious feeling you get, something lacking in this car I am afraid. I would buy the Galaxy over this any day.

currently a happy owner of a Mitsubishi Shogun Pinin :)

2 February 2010

[quote roverfan1984]Ive never understood why the S-Max gets so much praise,[/quote]

Its a Ford and as far as Autocar are concerned, Henry's lads can do no wrong.

Its nice to drive, as an MPV, but not great to drive, a well sorted estate is better and you can get your stuff in the boot!

2 February 2010

[quote Richard H]Its a Ford and as far as Autocar are concerned, Henry's lads can do no wrong.[/quote]

Well, in this instance, that's because Autocar is right. Anyone who doesn't appreciate that the S-Max is one of the most remarkable vehicles currently in production, doesn't appreciate design at all.

If you're constantly going to refer to another machine that does something better than the one on which you're reporting, we'll end up requiring reviews of aeroplanes. And after all, it isn't necessarily the case that there is an estate that offers what the S-Max does in terms of handling and driving experience.

Visually, they've mucked it up a bit with the latest revisions, but mechanically, they've ironed out some packaging flaws in what was already a brilliant model.

Anonymous

2 February 2010

Hi roverfan1984, Yes, the Galaxy is also getting a facelift. Check back later on Tuesday for the first drive. [quote roverfan1984] Will the Galaxy be getting a similar facelift?[/quote]

2 February 2010

I'd like to see the 2.0 SCTi engine make it into the Kuga. I'm sure the 2.5T they have in there currently is all very characterful but being well over the 225 g/km threshold means it was effectively obsolete as soon as it was launched.


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