Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
The range kicks off with the Ecoblue 150. Available with the Titanium trim level, it’s a 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel with a manual or automatic gearbox. It pulls strongly enough across a broad rev range, so can easily cope when the car is heavily loaded. Outright performance is adequate if nothing more; 0-62mph takes a reasonable 10.6sec with the manual gearbox.
If you want more oomph, the 187bhp Ecoblue 190 is offered with the ST-Line and Vignale trims. It’s only available with an eight-speed automatic gearbox and drops the 0-62mph time to 9.6sec, adding more muscle from low down, too. This engine is also available with four-wheel drive, making the S-Max a good choice if you live in a part of the country affected by harsh winters.
The sportier ST-Line S-Max gets firmer suspension but the differences compared with the standard set-up are marginal. This is worth considering if your commute includes lots of winding roads.
If you regularly tow a caravan or trailer, self-levelling suspension is a relatively affordable option, although it isn’t available on ST-Line or four-wheel drive versions.
MPVs don’t get much more enjoyable to drive than the S-Max; it combines lots of grip with minimal body lean. In fact, it handles like a smaller, lighter car and is impressively agile along twisting roads. Although the steering is inclined to return to centre rather too aggressively, it’s precise enough to help you place the car exactly where you want it through bends. It’s also easy to spin at low speeds, making parking in relatively tight spaces surprisingly easy.