Ford S-MAX (06 on) - Review

Review by Alisdair Suttie on
Last Updated: 16 Apr 2013
4
The Ford S-MAX is a people carrier with a sporty edge. It's designed to stand out from the crowd with sharp styling, tight handling and powerful engines.

4 out of 5

Performance

The S-MAX has four engines but the most affordable is the 2.0-litre petrol engine with 145bhp. Other petrol units include a 2.3-litre unit with 161bhp and an excellent 2.5-litre turbocharged engine (shared with the Focus ST) that delivers 220bhp. None of these are particularly efficient - the best averaging 35mpg, so we'd opt for one of the excellent diesels. The 1.8TDCi with 125bhp is adequate but a better choice is the excellent 2.0-litre diesel which, with 140bhp and a fuel economy figure of 44mpg, provides a good blend of performance and efficiency. There's also a newer 2.2 TDCi engine with 175bhp - quick and refined this is the best engine in the range and only marginally slower than the 2.5T model. It's also efficient and will average an impressive 43mpg. All models come with a positive six-speed manual gearbox apart from the 2.0-litre petrol that has a five-ratio gearbox. A smooth six-speed automatic is available on the 2.3-litre and 2.0 TDCi models. In 2010 Ford added a 2.0-litre petrol EcoBoost engine that provides a good spread of power and lively driving experience. Combined with the automatic six-speed 'Powershift' transmission it makes the most of the power and suits a keen driving style.

4 out of 5

Handling

The S-MAX is car-like to drive - it handles well and although there's some bodyroll (which is difficult to avoid with a tall body, as it has a higher centre of gravity) it doesn't feel unstable, helped by the precise steering and good levels of grip. An optional adaptive suspension system allows the driver to select from three settings (Sport, Normal and Comfort) and continuously adjusts to suit the road conditions. However the standard set-up is so good there seems little point in choosing this. Ride quality is firmer than other people carriers to improve body control, but it's certainly not uncomfortable even with the larger 18-inch wheels fitted. The S-MAX is also easy to manoeuvre (although it is very big) and there are no significant blind spots.