£23,310 - £33,085

The Ford S-MAX proves that buying a practical MPV needn’t mean settling for a car that's boring to drive. That much is clear the minute you clap eyes on the S-MAX – it might lack the low-slung profile of a sports car, but its wedge-like shape makes it look sharper than key rivals such as the SEAT Alhambra and Volkswagen Sharan.

Despite this, the Ford is extremely practical. It boasts seven seats that can be arranged in an assortment of layouts to fit your needs. Fold all the seats away and you’re left with a load capacity to rival a van.

Buyers can choose from a range of petrol and diesel engines, but we would choose one of the latter – the 2.0-litre 138bhp diesel offers gutsy performance but also strong economy. It combines well with the Ford S-MAX's excellent chassis and means the car is much more fun to drive than you’d ever imagine.

There are three trim levels to choose from – Zetec, Titanium, and top-of-the-range Titanium X Sport. Even if you go for the basic Zetec model, Ford fits it with a decent amount of kit including air-conditioning, front and rear parking sensors, electric windows all round, and alloy wheels.