The secret diary of a motoring journalist aged 39¾'ish


14th May 2018

I like crossovers and see how they fit right into so many people’s driving lives. Still, it’s good to have a bit of time away for the sake of perspective and what better break than an MPV – the very breed crossovers are hurting the most. In this case, it’s a Ford S-Max, but with a twist as this one is a 2.0 SCTi 240 with automatic gearbox. As a company car, it will be a rare choice, yet makes an intriguing case for itself in ST-Line trim.
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Let’s get the data out of the way early in the week. This ST-Line with the potent turbo petrol motor costs from £33,975, offers 35.8mpg combined economy and 180g/km CO2 emissions. That’s not likely to win the heart of your fleet manager, but for a select few the 0-62mph time of 8.4 seconds and strong mid-range wallop turn this seven-seater into a very practical alternative to many SUVs and estates.
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A long day spent driving into Edinburgh and then across to Glasgow before home shows the driver’s chair and seating position in the S-Max are spot on. The sportily bolstered seats trimmed in half leather provide excellent support and sitting higher than in something like a Mondeo gives superb forward vision. The windscreen pillars are quite thick, however, so you often need a second glance before pulling out of junctions.
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An easier day of driving with my son and a couple of his chums to take them swimming. I’d thought I’d have to make use the third row of seats, but three kiddy chairs fit across the middle row without having to fight to get seat buckles in. That is a huge result for the S-Max and puts it up there in rarefied space with the Volvo XC90 for this feat that will have parents breathing a sigh of relief every time when loading up the sprogs.
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We’ve become so used to dual-clutch gearboxes, so it’s a welcome reminder with this auto from Ford that this type of transmission still works very well. It’s not always the quickest to kick down a gear when required, but steering wheel paddle shifters sort that out. Otherwise, it makes life very laid back and the 240hp 2.0-litre petrol motor has more than ample torque to make swift progress without revving the valves off it.
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A very different Ford came my way this morning. My sister has just passed her test and ordered a new car, so the Ford StreetKa she’s been learning in is now up for grabs. She was given the car for free by a friend, so feels she should pass on the good luck and I was offered the wee drop-top. With no space for another car, I passed, but a friend has taken up the chance of low-cost driving. Good Ka-rma, you could say…
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This isn’t a grouse about the S-Max, but whatever the washer bottle has been filled with to help clear the windscreen seems to have a consistency more like the silly string you get at kids’ parties. Every time I’ve tried to wash the windscreen it ends up smeared and opaque. It’s also left this odd residue all over the front door pillars and roof. Odd, but has anyone else experienced this or is it a one-off?
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