|FORD S-MAX 2.5 DURATEC 190HP FHEV ST-LINE|
|The story: Ford’s S-Max seven-seater gets a hybrid powertrain to pull down running costs|
|Key rival:||Peugeot 508|
Ford has added its hybrid powertrain to the seven-seat “sports activity vehicle” S-Max, bringing emissions down by 10% compared with the EcoBlue diesel that has recently been dropped from the line-up.
The new, and now only, S-Max powertrain combines a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and a small battery that powers an electric motor in isolation for shorter periods before recharging in part via energy that would have otherwise been lost during deceleration. It gets the S-Max back below 150g/km, against 169g/km for the diesel, which produced the same 190hp. Indeed, on a light throttle and in a range of driving conditions, it’s possible to close in on the 50mpg mark.
The system works well, flitting between the two power sources where appropriate without much of an indication to the driver.
It’s fitted to a car that still very much has a place despite the move to more fashionable SUVs – a trend that is depicted in residual values that aren’t as strong as they used to be as buyers look elsewhere.
The styling manages to evades the ‘parent bus’ look of large seven-seaters, and the driving experience is impressively akin to that of a smaller and more nimble car, although it’s probably best not to exploit that if all five of the rear seats are occupied.
The middle row slides to allow for the best compromise of legroom for all passengers, and there’s still a little boot space if all three rows are in use.
The S-Max isn’t the youngest of cars in the Ford line-up, but it still performs its role for larger families very successfully. Rivals range from the squarer sibling that is the Ford Galaxy to the slightly smaller Peugeot 5008 or Volkswagen Touran seven-seaters, as well as SUVs such as the Seat Tarraco. However, none of those can quite knit together the range of qualities that the S-Max manages to do, which still gives it a unique position as the most stylish choice in the larger and most practical people carrier end of the market.