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.