The most notable changes following the latest range of revisions to the S-Max are under the bonnet, where Ford’s range of engines have been given a thorough overhaul.

A cutting-edge 114bhp 1.6-litre diesel joins the range, while 138bhp and 161bhp 2.0-litre diesels are also available, alongside a range-topping 197bhp 2.2 TDCi oil-burner.

The 200bhp Ecoboost engine in the Ford S-Max has two very distinct characters; one economical, one punchy and rorty

The real fireworks come from the petrols, which include a 200bhp turbocharged powerplant mated to Ford’s dual-clutch automatic transmission (called Powershift). A range-topping 237bhp EcoBoost engine gives the S-Max hot hatch levels of performance, while the entry-level car is now powered by Ford’s 158bhp 1.6-litre EcoBoost petrol motor.

Ford's 237bhp EcoBoost offers predictably livewire performance but its economy and CO2 emissions – 34mpg and 194g/km – mean most will be looking at the lower-powered petrol and diesel models.

The 200bhp EcoBoost unit performs like a turbodiesel. With the Powershift dual-clutch gearbox left in drive and a light to medium throttle, the engine and transmission choose to operate towards the bottom end of the rev range.

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But if you want to achieve maximum performance – 0-60mph in 8.7sec and 30-70mph in 7.9sec as tested – the engine reveals a different character. It spins freely to the rev limiter and even emits a not-unappealing rasp in the process. This EcoBoost option achieves 34.9mpg combined and emits 189g/km of CO2.

The base 1.6-litre diesel feels a bit gutless in a car of the S-Max’s size, and of the larger 2.0-litre and 2.2-litre diesels, the 161bhp 2.0 is the best all-rounder. In this guise, the S-Max spreads its torque well, giving drivers much more confidence when overtaking on the motorway.

When mated to the dual-clutch automatic Powershift gearbox, this is easily the best combination we’ve found in the S-Max.

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