There’s just a touch of the dreaded ‘difficult second album’ syndrome about the new S-Max.

It was on the cards. Ford set the template for how to successfully add dynamism to a big passenger car nine years ago, and rivals on all sides have been raising their game ever since.

Looks and drives better than most but not the class-leader it was

The new S-Max doesn’t appeal in quite the same way as the previous one. On performance, ride and handling, Ford has failed to make a perfectly competent car appreciably better than what went before. It also feels as if the car’s versatility, exterior styling and perceived quality have been somewhat ‘phoned in’.

That’s being a bit hard on what remains a more than respectable, competitive and generally pleasing to drive family car – but then ‘hard’ is what the Autocar road test is here to be.

If you liked the last S-Max, chances are you’ll like this one. It’s a good car. But it’s no longer a great one.