Ford S-Max face-lift: driven

* Practical and brilliant to drive * Likely to cost more than current car * On sale from April...

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What Car? Staff
02 February 2010

Ford S-Max face-lift: driven

What is it?
The S-Max we drove is a face-lifted version of Ford's sportier large MPV, with new engines and cosmetic tweaks.

What's new?

Ford has given both the S-Max and Galaxy makeovers, but the S-Max's has had most work done. As well as a new bonnet, grille and front bumper, the tailgate, rear lamp clusters and rear side panels have also changed. There are new materials and extra storage features inside, while high-tech safety systems are available as options.

What's it like to drive?

Absolutely brilliant. The mechanical changes are limited to new engines and transmissions, which leaves the S-Max's handling and steering as excellent as ever. A big seven-seater really shouldn't be this much fun to drive, yet the S-Max combines sporty dynamics with a comfortable ride and excellent refinement.

We drove a car with the all-new Ecoboost 2.0-litre SCTi engine a 200bhp turbocharged, direct-injection petrol engine. It comes with Ford's 'Powershift' twin-clutch transmission as standard, which gives slick changes in both automatic and sequential manual mode. The new engine is impressively strong and quiet, but Ford admits that the new 2.0-litre diesel engines will be the big sellers.

Is it practical?

The S-Max isn't quite as roomy as its slightly chunkier brother, the Galaxy, but it's still one of most family-friendly cars around. The cabin has three full-size seats in the middle row, a flat floor and large doors. There's also the choice between a capacious boot or two more rear seats. Everything is easy to fold in or out of place, the driving position is more saloon-like than many MPVs and the quality is excellent throughout.

How much will it cost?

Here's the catch. Prices haven't been confirmed yet, but they're unlikely to be cheaper than the current car, which, thanks to a series of hefty prices over the last 18 months is already rather expensive.