Ford S-Max 1.6 TDCi review

* Smallest S-Max diesel engine * Average 54.3mpg * On sale now...

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John McIlroy
7 Oct 2011 16:33 | Last updated: 3 Sep 2018 15:33

What is it? The S-Max with its smallest diesel engine ever: a 113bhp 1.6-litre unit producing 199lb ft of torque.

The engine is available in Zetec and Titanium trim, but not Titanium X; you have to go for a least a 2.0 if you want the luxurious range-topper.

The 1.6 TDCi gets a stop-start system as standard and is available only with a six-speed manual transmission. It produces CO2 emissions of 139g/km 13g/km less than the 2.0-litre diesel model and does an average of 54.3mpg.

Whats it like to drive? Were big fans of Fords 1.6 diesel in the Mondeo, a car that shares plenty of underpinnings with the S-Max. However, the seven-seater is nearly 200kg heavier than its family car sister, and it shows. Youll have to concentrate hard to make sure the engine is kept in its ideal rev range at all times. Allow it to fall much beneath 1750rpm and youll be punished by a lengthy spell with little torque.

The adverse effect of this is three-fold. First, it means youll really be penalised by loading up the S-Max to its full capacity. Second, its not really a relaxing drive; theres no chance of long, lazy stretches in a higher gear. Third, should you want to exploit the S-Maxs chassis and steering, youll have to work it very hard.

Whats it like inside? The same as all other S-Max variants, so, in the most part, nicely finished with a decent choice of materials. The driving position is still lower than youll find in many of the S-Maxs rivals, but theres good visibility.

Five people can use the S-Max to travel in comfort, but the rearmost seats are quite low-slung, so theyre better suited to children than long-legged adults. Boot space is decent, even with all three rows of seats in use and in five-seat mode it offers a huge loadbay.

Should I buy one? We cant recommend it. While there are cost gains because of the lower CO2 emissions, we cant help thinking that in day-to-day use, the fact that youre forced to work the 1.6 so hard will lead to disappointing fuel economy. Wed stick with a 2.0-litre diesel and enjoy the easy life.

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