Ford S-MAX MPV - Interior & comfort
The Ford S-MAX is comfortable to sit in and gives a great view of the road. The dashboard is simple and easy to use
The Ford S-MAX carries its sporty image inside, where the raised driving position and user-friendly controls make it easy to feel confident at the wheel of this relatively large car. The S-MAX is decently equipped, too, so most buyers should be happy with the cheapest Zetec trim.
The expensive, leather-lined, top-of-the-range Vignale version is extremely well appointed, even having laminated side glass to reduce noise inside. However, for all the extra plushness, the tacky-feeling plastic door bins and cheap-feeling glovebox remain, leading you to doubt how much value you’re getting for your money.
Ford S-MAX dashboard
The focus of the S-MAX’s light and airy interior is its sporty looking dashboard. All the controls are still well laid-out and easy to use. There are plenty of soft-touch materials and build quality on the whole feels better than its predecessor. The Ford S-MAX’s front seats aren’t quite as high as those in other people carriers, but they are terrifically supportive and comfortable to sit in. You also still get a commanding view of the road ahead and lots of adjustment to help find your ideal seating position.
On the range-topping Vignale version you’ll find that Ford’s finest leather has been applied not only to the seats but also to the dashboard, the door panels and the lid to the centre console. The seats seem more comfortable, too, as if cushioning has been increased. The car we tested had ‘Cashmere’ leather, a light colour that we are concerned might not stand up too well against everyday family use. The darker colours are likely to be a lot more resistant to staining.
The cheapest trim level, Zetec, comes with everything most family buyers will want: dual-zone climate control, electric windows all round, front and rear parking sensors, cruise control and automatic wipers. It also comes with Ford's eight-inch touchscreen SYNC 3 system, which features DAB radio, Bluetooth, voice control and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
For around £2,000 more, Titanium adds satellite navigation, automatic headlights, lane-keeping assistance and keyless entry. ST-Line is considerably more expensive than Titanium and adds sports suspension, 18-inch alloys, a distinctive bodykit and heated seats. Bear in mind that the firm ride from that wheel and suspension setup might not suit young passengers in the back, but you can specify optional self-levelling suspension to combat this.
Vignale models are swathed with high-quality, quilted leather as described above, as well as plush carpeting beneath your feet front and rear along with additional soft-touch materials on the dashboard and doors. The front seats are electrically adjusted, with the driver’s seat enjoying 10-way movement and position memory.
There’s also Ford’s eight-inch touchscreen Sony sat nav with DAB radio and voice control, together with a sophisticated premium instrument cluster, exchanging old-fashioned dials for comprehensive digital displays and readouts. There’s a rear-view camera, too, plus front and rear ambient interior lighting and a powered tailgate.
However, none of this technology and richness of finish can conceal that the underlying S-MAX does suffer from some rather scratchy, cheap-feeling plastics in certain areas, and when you’ve paid top-dollar for a Vignale they rather spoil the effect. We don’t think the extra investment over a Zetec or Titanium is worthwhile.
You can choose from 12 paint colours across the range, although some are limited to specific trim levels, and 19-inch alloys are optional on Titanium and ST-Line models. They’re expensive at £900, though. These trim levels can also be optioned with a Lux pack, which adds adaptive LED headlights, heated leather seats and a powered tailgate.
Opt for Zetec trim and you can add privacy glass and sat nav, while higher-spec models get options like rear air conditioning and a winter pack (both £400), and a panoramic sunroof (£900). There’s also a Driver Assistance pack for £1,500, adding a wealth of safety kit like blind-spot monitoring, a rear-view camera and active parking assistance.