By: Mark Rawcliffe
THE FORD S-Max is a new model in the Ford range, which, in terms of its actual size, is positioned between the large full seven-seater Ford Galaxy (of which Ford is bringing out a new model soon) and the five-seater Focus C-Max. A five-seater as standard, the S-Max makes a really spacious family vehicle, with legroom a plenty and boot space sufficient for any expanding family.
Two further seats can be bolted into the back, in fact in the boot, but they do reduce the boot space (but only to 285 litres of space with all seats in place). This is reportedly up approximately 18 per cent over the Galaxy, which shares the same floor. The seats will use the new Ford Fold Flat System (FFS), taking the space offered by the Focus C-Max one step further, with the ‘S’ in S-Max indicating that maximum space is provided in a sporty profile, without sacrificing driving pleasure or style.
FFS is reported to allow 32 different seating permutations. With all seven seats folded flat, the floor space in the back of the S-Max would rival most small vans, sporting 2mx1m. This will give you somewhere in the region of 2,000 litres of useable space for luggage in “removal van” mode.
To be quite frank, MPVs, whatever the make, used to bore me to tears, but circumstances have quickly changed that view. In the case of the S-Max, I found the style to be radical, with its front looking very in your face, with corner grabbing headlights and high mounted fog lamps. A big mouth and low air scoopes definitely make this an MPV I would buy. The Focus C-Max is still my favourite, but the S-Max has huge possibilities when, and if, I decide to expand – my family that is. Unfortunately, the Galaxy just doesn’t float my boat, but I am looking forward to seeing the new design now that Ford has really whetted my appetite! The side vents, the lines and even the wheels make this a really stunning model when compared with the other MPVs.
Throughout the S-Max, you will find more than 25 cubby holes for the usual objet d’art (as Del Trotter would say) that comes with kids, families and long trips. Interior design is good – the seats are comfortable and hug you through every corner, both hard and soft. The seat backs support you well, without being restrictive, and the adjustment should suit all drivers, tall or short. Controls are to hand always, with the onboard computer controlled by steering wheel buttons, along with the cruise control and, of course, the radio. The silver finished panels are prone to scratching, but Ford is not alone with this bad choice in finish. The roof height is fine and I can just imagine the S-Max with a glass roof.
A huge amount of extras are available, making the potential shopping list of toys quite a long one, starting with DVD player for the passengers, right the way to a cargo shelf, which slides in and out making for easy loading of all things.
Safety is, of course, part of the essence with the S-Max, starting with an ultra-rigid passenger cell. The recently developed Interactive Vehicle Dynamics Control (IVDC) system controls all of the other safety systems in a cohesive manner. Add in the options of Continuously Controlled Damping (CDDC), Electronic Stability Program (ESP), Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Forward Alert (FA), not forgetting the Anti-lock Braking System, Hill-Launch Assist and a Tyre Pressure Monitoring System, and you can see why Ford believe the coveted five-star crash test result from EuroNCAP should be in their grasp.
The S-Max can be finished in a choice of 13 different colours, of which 10 are metallic. Nine upholstery styles and colours trim the inside.
Two diesel engines are available – the 1.8 and the 2.0 Duratorq TDCi – and one petrol engine – the 2.5 Duratec. Combined consumption for the engines are 6.2, 6.4 and 9.4 respectively.