In-depth reviews

Ford S-MAX MPV - Engines, drive & performance

The Ford S-MAX is great to drive for an MPV, and feels like a much smaller car from behind the wheel

Carbuyer Rating

3.6 out of 5

Owners Rating

4.4 out of 5

Read owner reviews
Engines, drive & performance Rating

4.0 out of 5

The Ford S-MAX has many talents on the road. Its comfortable ride and neat handling make it easy to negotiate urban streets, despite its size. It also makes for a relaxing motorway cruiser, and when the opportunity arises, it’s more entertaining than most rivals on twisty B-roads, too.

Ford S-MAX hybrid engine

Ford’s hybrid offering uses a 2.5-litre petrol engine, an electric motor and a small battery. It’s a powertrain that’s also shared with the Ford Galaxy and Ford Kuga, and its 187bhp output matches that of the most powerful diesel. The 0-62mph time of 9.8 seconds looks fairly nippy on paper. However, it has about half as much torque as the diesels, so it may start to feel underpowered when full of people or climbing steep hills.

Ford S-MAX diesel engines

Our favourite of the engines – the 148bhp 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesel – has plenty of oomph for most people’s needs, including overtaking on the motorway. It performs adequately even when the car is fully loaded, but if you want extra punch there’s also a 187bhp version. Zero-to-62mph takes 10.8 seconds in the 148bhp models, compared to 9.5 seconds in the 187bhp models, but speccing four-wheel drive adds another second to that time. The equivalent BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer 220d xDrive is much brisker, with 0-62mph taking eight seconds.

The S-MAX is a bit softer than the car it replaces, but it's still a decent drive for an MPV. The steering feels a little vague, but body control is reasonably well controlled, although it does move around more than its predecessor. The benefit is that the S-MAX is far more comfortable than before, while engine, wind and road noise are virtually non-existent at motorway speeds. The option to fit ‘self-levelling suspension’ is available if you consistently carry heavy loads or tow a trailer. Four-wheel-drive diesel models provide extra grip, but most drivers won't notice this in everyday driving, so we wouldn’t recommend it unless you live in a particularly rural area.

The gearshift on cars with the manual transmission has a smooth, positive action while the clutch pedal is light and progressive, making the S-MAX very easy to drive.

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