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.