Ford S-Max 2.0 TDCi 140 Zetec
Dealer price £12,160
Private price £10,980
Three-time runner-up, now twice winner. That’s the S-Max.
The first two rows of seats have plenty of head- and legroom, and the third row is perfect for kids, with great access. All five rear seats fold flat into the boot floor when they’re not needed, giving a huge amount of boot space to allow you to carry bulky loads with ease. Even with all seven seats in place, there’s still enough room for a couple of bags.
A fully laden MPV needs a strong engine, but not one that will have you reaching into your pocket to pay for fuel every couple of hundred miles. That’s why our judges chose the 138bhp 2.0-litre diesel – the same frugal, reliable unit you’ll find in our Mondeo family category winner (see page 97) and easily up to the job of shifting seven people and their luggage.
The S-Max is that rarest of things: an MPV that’s fun to drive. It has lots of grip through corners, and body roll is kept in check, making it great on twisty roads. The suspension absorbs most bumps to give a comfortable ride, yet the steering is sharp and responsive.
The most popular and best-value trim is Zetec, which gets you air-con, alloy wheels and a CD player.
Reliability isn’t quite as good as the rest of the Ford range. However, provided you thoroughly check all the electrical systems are working and that the interior trim hasn’t been abused, and make sure there’s a full service history, you’ll be a happy customer.
The Zafira is cheap and has seven useable seats, and there are plenty to choose from at Vauxhall dealers and car supermarkets.
2.0 TDI SE 140 7st
The Touran’s main strength is its versatile seating layout, with a spacious middle row that folds, slides or comes out very easily.