Ford S-MAX logo

Ford S-MAX

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heycar review

      Launch year
      2015
      Body type
      MPV
      Fuel type
      Petrol, Diesel
heycar editorial team

Written by

heycar editorial team

00/10
heycar rating
“The head-and-heart MPV”

Best bits

  • Estate car levels of driving enjoyment
  • Upmarket feel, especially on top trim levels
  • Practical and flexible cabin

Not so great

  • Not as practical as the Ford Galaxy
  • Can get expensive, especially with a few options
  • Looks too much like a Galaxy from the front

Read by

Ford S-MAX Driving

Overall verdict

Ford S-MAX Interior

On the inside

Ford S-MAX Side

Driving

Ford S-MAX Front

How much does it cost to run

Ford S-MAX Back

Prices, versions and specification

Overall Verdict

"The Ford S-MAX is the seven-seat MPV you can buy with your head and your heart. Launched in 2015, the current S-Max picked up where the old model left off, injecting some style and dynamic ability into a segment focused on space and practicality."

Ford S-MAX Driving

The S-MAX is sold alongside the seven-seat Ford Galaxy, but there are some fundamental differences between the two MPVs. While the Galaxy is a true seven-seater, the S-Max is best described as a five-seater with two additional seats for occasional use.


Although the two cars look very similar from the front, the S-MAX boasts a rakish, almost estate car-style roofline, along with a more upmarket cabin. The range-topping Vignale version edges the Ford into premium territory, albeit with a price tag to match.


The petrol engines were ditched in 2019, leaving the S-MAX available with a single 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesel. There are two outputs available: 150PS and 190PS. The less powerful engine is more than up to the task of moving the S-Max, even with all seven seats occupied. It’s also available with a satisfying six-speed manual gearbox, while the 190PS model comes with an excellent eight-speed automatic transmission.


The S-Max is great to drive, regardless of which engine you choose. Although it lacks the precision of the original S-MAX, this latest version is more comfortable and still a cut above rivals when it comes to dynamic appeal. The low centre of gravity means there’s virtually no body-roll when cornering, while the lowered suspension of the ST-Line model makes the S-Max feel like a nimble estate car.


Speaking of estate cars, the S-MAX offers a huge 2,020 litres of luggage space with the five rear seats folded down, or 965 litres in five-seat mode. This shrinks to 285 litres in seven-seat mode, which is just enough for a suitcase and a couple of washbags.


The middle seats fold and slide independently to deliver maximum flexibility. Crucially, by moving them forward you can create some extra room for the passengers in the third row. If you don’t, they’ll be screaming for mercy before you’ve left the driveway.


Ford has preloaded the S-MAX with a generous level of standard equipment, so there’s no need to look beyond the entry-level Zetec trim. If you do, the Titanium adds a few nice-to-have features, the ST-Line is the sportiest member of the range, while the Vignale is the luxury wannabe. The latter is a convincing package, but lacks the badge and image required to justify its price tag.


Overall, the Ford S-MAX is a unique proposition in a dwindling market. It’s as good to drive as the majority of seven-seat SUVs, nicer to live with than most MPVs, and feels more substantial than an estate car.

Is the Ford S-MAX right for you?

If you’re after a practical and flexible MPV, but don’t want to sacrifice driving pleasure, the Ford S-Max is the car for you. Although it can’t offer the space and practicality of the larger Galaxy, the S-MAX has more car-like styling and handling. You can think of it as part-estate car and part-MPV.


It seats seven, although the third row is best reserved for children, and it comes with plenty of standard kit. Because it’s based on the Ford Mondeo, it’s also great to drive. Indeed, we’d say it offers best-in-class dynamics.


Although family car buyers are turning to fashionable SUVs in their droves, a 2019 facelift ensures the Ford S-MAX remains current.

What’s the best Ford S-MAX model/engine to choose?

Few people opted for the petrol engines, so it’s no surprise that Ford removed them from the range in 2019. The S-MAX has always been at its most convincing with a diesel under the bonnet.


The 150PS version of the 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesel engine is our pick, offering the best blend of performance, economy and price. It’s punchy enough, even with all seven seats occupied, so we don’t see a need to upgrade to the more powerful (but less economical) 190PS version. 


We’d also recommend the entry-level Zetec trim level, as Ford has loaded it with a generous amount of goodies. Just go easy on the options, because the S-MAX can get very expensive, very quickly. Keep it simple – unless you’re buying a used example, when the higher trim levels make more sense.

What other cars are similar to the Ford S-MAX?

Because the Ford S-MAX straddles the estate car and MPV markets, it goes into battle against a wide range of competitors. The more practical and larger Ford Galaxy is the enemy from within, but it can’t rival the S-Max in terms of style and driving enjoyment.


Direct rivals include the Volkswagen Touran, Citroen Grand C4 Space Tourer and Renault Grand Scenic. With the seven-seat market switching to SUVs, the S-MAX also faces a fight from the likes of the Skoda Kodiaq, Peugeot 5008 and SEAT Tarraco. In common with the S-Max, most seven-seat SUVs are best described as five-seaters with a pair of occasional chairs at the back.

Rating

The Ford S-MAX is a unique proposition, offering the benefits of a seven-seat MPV in a more stylish suit, with the driving enjoyment of an estate car. If you’re after maximum practicality, buy the Galaxy. If you’re after a small dose of excitement, choose the S-MAX.

Learn more

Ford S-MAX Interior

On the inside

Ford S-MAX Side

Driving

Ford S-MAX Front

How much does it cost to run

Ford S-MAX Back

Prices, versions and specification