The cheapest S-Max – Zetec trim with the 1.5-litre Ecoboost – is £24,545, which is very marginally less than the list price of an entry-level (and similarly efficient) Seat Alhambra MPV, and almost £5k cheaper than the most affordable (and admittedly diesel-powered) Hyundai Santa Fe SUV.
However, the mainstay will be the diesels, and all three variants of the stock 2.0-litre Duratorq offer the same 56.5mpg combined economy and 129g/km CO2 emissions in conjunction with front-wheel drive and the manual six-speed gearbox.
Bought in the mid-level Titanium trim tested here (where you’ll get sat-nav and the bulk of the new tech mentioned), £28k is more realistic, where, predictably, you’ll also find the best of the car’s direct rivals.
The stock S-Max’s efficiency is generally worthy – although, as our True MPG testers have shown, far from class-leading in the real world – and only slightly harmed by the optional fitment of either four-wheel drive or the Powershift gearbox.
Range-topping Titanium Sport trim provides access to the most powerful engines and adds a styling kit and firmer suspension, although selecting them puts the S-Max the wrong side of £30k, where some seriously attractive alternatives – the seven-seat Land Rover Discovery Sport among them – loom large.
Titanium trim is the one you want. Think hard about all-wheel drive; it's a £1500 step up. And we wouldn't be tempted by the £750 Panarama Roof if you're planning on frequently carrying adult-sized passengers in the second row.