The range kicks off with a 1.5 turbocharged petrol, but this engine is difficult to recommend due to its comparatively high CO2 emissions and less-than-impressive real-world fuel economy.
We’d avoid the weakest diesel engine, too; the 118bhp 2.0-litre needs to be worked hard when the S-Max is loaded up with people and baggage. However, the 148bhp version of the same engine pulls strongly enough across a broad rev range, so can easily cope when the car is heavily loaded.
There are also 178bhp and 207bhp versions of the same 2.0-litre engine. The 178bhp version is worth considering if you want a bit more oomph, but the range-topping diesel – which is available only with a six-speed automatic gearbox – is difficult to recommend because of its high price.
The 148bhp and 178bhp engines are 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.