From £23,050
Excellent family car has few flaws except its price

Our Verdict

Ford S-Max 2006-2014

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

22 May 2010

What is it?

This is the facelifted Ford S-Max fitted with the company's new PowerShift dual-clutch automatic gearbox and the 160bhp version of the 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine.

What was already an excellent package has been sharpened up by minor styling revisions to the nose and a new cabin trim, including gloss black plastic inserts, half-alcantara seat trim and LED overhead cabin lighting. In this case it also has the Titanium X pack, which brings a deeper front spoiler and 18in five-spoke alloy wheels, instead of the normal 17-inch items. 

What's it like?

Of all the S-Max editions that we've driven, the 160bhp diesel auto is the one that makes most sense to the British market, with our high fuel prices. It also provides the best mating of engine and gearbox we've found in this car, with just the right amount of reluctance to change down, unless you give the accelerator a firm long push, which is exactly what you need for smooth, quick progress with a torquey diesel motor.

What makes it particularly driveable is the excellent torque spread. Although performance in a car this big is never going to worry sports car owners, the superbly resolved chassis allows you sustain much higher speeds than you'd think possible in this sector. In many ways, it is a vast, 'warm hatch'.

Real-world economy of 37.5mpg on a 100-mile mix of urban, country and motorway driving is impressive, and equates to the previous 2.0-litre diesel manual, although this model obviously has more power and the ease of use of an automatic gearbox.

The biggest reservation is over the ride, which is unnecessarily taut on 18in wheels and seems to offer little extra body control in return. Unless you're desperate for the look of the (admittedly handsome) 18s, the standard-fit items seem like a much better bet.

Should I buy one?

The Ford S-Max is an awesome family car, whether it's as a seven-seat MPV, or in traditional spacious five-seat estate mode. Titanium X sports pack aside, this car has few flaws except its price.

If you're looking at the premium estate cars from Mercedes, Audi and BMW, you'd be mad not to test drive the S-Max, and if you're looking purely within this segment the only real competition comes in terms of price.

Ed Keohane

Join the debate


28 May 2010

I don't trust the longevity of these gearboxes. Too expensive to fix.

28 May 2010

OK I can accept that you won't pay the sticker price but even with a discount - OUCH!!!

And this is the people carrier I would buy if I was in the market for one but most prob not in this spec.

Audi A3 2.0TDi S-Line / Subaru Legacy Tourer

28 May 2010

Went and looked at this and the Galaxy, and concluded the interior fit an finish was so poor that it would not last 5 minutes with a dog and small child. The boot area was especially flimsy. I cannot believe it is valued at near £28k. For that is very near to Discovery and Landcruiser territory. You can buy a discounted XC90 auto for £25k. Autocar need to start reviewing cars based on price and slating ford based on the competitors it is pitching against and the terrible depreciation hit. At £28k this is surely not a good car.

28 May 2010

Ford do not describe this vehicle as a '160', they describe it as a '163' which relates to PS and not BHP. Why do Autocar insist on altering how manufacturers describe their vehicles and engine outputs? They use metric measurements for weights and emissions so why engine power??

[quote PhilM4000]and concluded the interior fit an finish was so poor that it would not last 5 minutes with a dog and small child[/quote]

+1. Had a test drive of the original S-MAX a couple of years and recently had a good poke around a friends brand-new hired Galaxy and I thought the quality was very poor...

28 May 2010

[quote bomb]Had a test drive of the original S-MAX a couple of years and recently had a good poke around a friends brand-new hired Galaxy and I thought the quality was very poor...

We have a Galaxy at work, the interior feels really cheap. Never understood how Ford refer to the Galaxy as 'premium' (other than the mad list price).


28 May 2010

I have had a Galaxy for the last two years. The interior may look cheap but has lasted well being used to transport family, pets, trips to the dump etc etc. The car hasn't been super reliable needing a new steering rack and two new turbo chargers but it is still the best MPV available. It is also considerably cheaper to run than an XC90 or such like.

I share the concerns around how long the auto transmissions will last and shall stick to manual for the foreseeable future.

28 May 2010

A work colleague has an XC90 and it is in the garage for repairs as often as it is on the road. The list of faults is horrendous. My experience of Fords suggests that the trim may look a bit crude but it stays that way, as NAK suggests.

28 May 2010

[quote bomb]

+1. Had a test drive of the original S-MAX a couple of years and recently had a good poke around a friends brand-new hired Galaxy and I thought the quality was very poor...


The new shape Mondeo I had was similarly cheap feeling, particularly the glove box lid (off a 1980s Fiesta?) and anywhere in the back of the car. And so it proved as it slowly disintergrated over the year I had it.

Why Ford thinks it can charge these premises prices for what are not premium cars is beyond me. Compare it to the interior of an XC90 whitch can be had for less than £25k or to a Jag XF even which can be had for this sort of money and the difference is obvious.

28 May 2010

My previous car was a `05 Focus and the interior was nicley designed and the plastics used for the top half of the dash were very good. But work your way lower down, the dash inserts and the doors and the plastics used there were cheap and hard.

And yet Ford still continue to do the same now. In my mind nice enough looking interiors but, very very cheap cars apart, i really do think current Fords have one of the the worst interior quality materials around.

28 May 2010

Nice to see the high list price of the S Max being highlighted here. Just for fun I specced one up on Fords website, with a decent engine etc and it came to £32k! I nearly spat my dummy out when I saw that!

No thanks. I'll do without the space and get a decent C Class for that money.


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