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First Drive

First Drive: Ford S-Max

The story:
Ford has revamped the engine and gearbox offering on its S-Max and Galaxy large people carrier offerings, including a new eight-speed automatic gearbox.
Key rival:Seat Alhambra
Ford S-Max 2.0TDCI EcoBlue Vignale 240hp eight-speed auto
On sale:Now

The Ford S-Max is still in a class of one in terms of being a large seven-seat people carrier that doesn’t look like a big box. That role is reserved for the S-Max’s Galaxy sibling, which is the larger of the two big people carriers, while the S-Max, Company Car Today’s reigning CCT100 MPV of the Year, is a more stylish and slightly less practical alternative for big families that don’t want to look like they’re driving a big family bus.

Both S-Max and Galaxy have received a revamped engine and gearbox-wise, with the line-up now comprising a 165hp 1.5-litre petrol engine and 2.0-litre diesels of 120hp, 150hp, 190hp and the top-spec 240hp we drive here.

First Drive-May 2019-Ford S-Max-Image 1The top three diesels can all now be had with a new eight-speed automatic transmission, complete with slightly too-small rotary dial selector rather than the traditional big lever. It tidies up the cabin a little, but is a touch too compact when you go for a quick shift when manoeuvring. The other thing the new auto gearbox does is to enable the addition of stop-and-go to the £900 optional adaptive cruise control.

This top-spec engine is pretty rapid, but a little unnecessary in such a big family wagon, and doesn’t feel quick enough to be worth the £1235 extra and the hefty 20g/km penalty for an additional 50hp. To be honest, 190hp is more than enough, unless you’re towing something heavy or spending much of the time fully loaded.

The new engines are refined, and the S-Max remains the peak choice for those who want a larger car that handles well, looks smart and has seven seats.

Paul Barker

The verdict

Nice new gearbox and revised line-up of engines gives the already-excellent S-Max a little boost.