The S-MAX is arguably the best looking MPV on theÂ market at the moment, giving nothing away in termsÂ of practicality with exceptional space for families -Â a successful synergy of design with common sense…
ByÂ David Thacker
My testÂ drive for the day is the S-MAX TitaniumÂ Sport 2.0 litre Duratorq TDCi. From the side theÂ shape is deceptive. It has a diminutive quality andÂ is far removed from most people’s idea of the usualÂ family-hauling MPV. The vent above the front wheelÂ with a line flowing to the rear quarter panel and theÂ aero sculpting of the sills, to my mind, lifts it to aÂ sports level. But it’s not until I’m in the driver’s seatÂ that the attention to ergonomics really strikes home:Â The way the seat moves forward to your preferredÂ driving position as if a waiter is gently settling youÂ in, or moving back by itself to let you out – how didÂ he know? While on the subject of seats, by selectingÂ from a row of buttons in the boot space it wouldÂ seem the ideal place to play musical chairs, as theÂ second row of seats disappear one by one leaving aÂ cavernous 2020 litres space for the little ones to runÂ around till the music stops. The panorama glassÂ roof increases the light airy feel – somehow it’sÂ bigger on the inside than the outside.
So what’s it like on the road? Our model has theÂ All-Wheel Drive (AWD) system, which Ford claimÂ ‘can determine how much grip, cornering balanceÂ and responsiveness is required in wet, dry or icyÂ conditions and on varying terrain’. All I can say isÂ there is a sure-footedness and surprisingly littleÂ body roll for an MPV. Performance from the 180Â bhp and 400 Nm torque power unit, coupled withÂ the six-speed paddle shift semi-auto box is a goodÂ combination. The list of features is extensive. SomeÂ designed to make the driving experience a delightÂ and less stressful on long motorway journeys; theÂ cruise control and intelligent speed assist is likeÂ having a co-pilot – once my speed is selected it willÂ maintain distance from the vehicle in front even if itÂ suddenly slows, and reminds me through the steeringÂ wheel if I’m lane drifting and ‘makes a ham sandwichÂ after two hours’! A small yellow light in the corner ofÂ the driver’s mirror warning of a vehicle in the blindÂ spot is a safety feature I really like and might preventÂ some motorway delays. The SYNC touchscreen systemÂ including DAB digital radio and Bluetooth sat nav,Â and automatic lights and wipers, is what you wouldÂ expect of this class. The Active Park Assist takes aÂ little getting used to as it feels like teaching a learnerÂ to park – I’m sure it will hit something and I want toÂ interfere, but it does know what it’s doing and I feelÂ silly shouting ‘mind that car on the left’!
This is a superb design for today’s family lifestyle,Â versatile, easy and fun to drive on the twisty B roadsÂ and relaxing on the motorways.
As John Ruskin said many years ago: “QualityÂ is never an accident. It is always the result ofÂ intelligent effort.”
Facts at a glance
ENGINE:Â 2.0 litre TDCi
TRANSMISSION:Â PowerShift Automatic
PERFORMANCE:Â 128mph, 0-62mph -10.5secs
ECONOMY: 48.7 mpg
EMISSIONS: 149 (g/km)