Ford has wisely chosen not to fix something that wasn’t broken in the latest S-Max. Therefore, it retains the basic suspension architecture of the original, with MacPherson struts at the front and a multi-link ‘control blade’ arrangement at the rear. As such, it maintains its class-leading combination of ride and handling.
The beauty of the S-Max set-up is that it asks so few compromises of its driver, regardless of what they want from the car. Those who don’t care about driver enjoyment will simply find a car that is easy to drive, confidence-inspiring and comfortable.
Those who do enjoy driving, though, will find that this is a seven-seat MPV that grips well, changes direction without feeling flustered and can be placed accurately on the road.
Much of this comes from the suspension and damping control (passive as standard, but optionally adjustable) but some of it is also down to the steering, which balances manageable weight with reasonable feel. While diesel models have electro-hydraulic systems, petrol models are fully hydraulic, and are all the better for it.
All S-Maxes ride a little stiffly, but are still comfortable enough for family use. Sport suspension is also offered, meaning a firmer but still perfectly acceptable ride quality. While there is vertical movement over bumps, this is well controlled in both compression and rebound.
However, it is the way the Ford S-Max deals with lateral forces that impresses most. Over uneven road surfaces the car produces very little head toss, especially for a tall car, making it relaxing to drive.