Ford's Intelligent Protection System comes into play before and after the worst has happened.
The test car housed the 2.5i Duratec petrol engine, which produces 220PS or 217bhp at 3,850rpm and 324Nm of torque at 2,100rpm. It is turbo-charged and has a multipoint fuel injection system that helps to power the car to a top speed of 143 mph after a 0-60 mph dash of 7.4 seconds. The figures are a giveaway to the cars sporty nature and are confirmed once out on the road.
Other engine choices include the 2.0i Duratec and two, turbocharged diesels; the 1.8 and 2.0TDCi, Duratorq units. The largest engines are mated to a 6-speed Durashift, manual gearbox which is an option with the 1.8 Duratorq, instead of the 5-speed manual transmission found with that and the remaining engine options.
Fuel consumption figures for the test car are not too brilliant but acceptable at 21.2mpg for the urban cycle, 39.8mpg for the extra-urban and 30.1mpg for the combined. But never mind, for a sizeable MPV it thinks it's a hot-hatch and you can't have everything.
On the open road, the S-MAX, as tested, behaved more like a Ford Focus ST , which is not surprising as it has the same engine while the dynamics are a testament to the ultra-stiff body and the surprisingly low centre of gravity helps.
Active safety systems, designed to keep the car out of the scenery come in the form of ABS with EBD. I find it surprising, given the sporty nature of the car that not even the Titanium has ESP as standard but it is a £350 option across the range. However, other systems such as Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Forward Alert (FA) distance control and something called Collision Mitigation by Braking (CMbB) will arrive shortly. There is also Interactive Vehicle Dynamics Control (IVDC) with Continuously Controlled Damping (CCD) which improves handling and stability for £700. It easy to get lost with all the initials and acronyms.
Ford's Intelligent Protection System comes into play before and after the worst has happened. It encompasses, side curtain airbags and a new driver's knee airbag as well as the, now standard cushioning fitments. In case of a frontal impact, the steering column is designed to move horizontally away from the driver, increasing the survival space while the pedals retract and, depending on the severity of the impact, fold away from the driver's feet.
The S-MAX is fun to drive in earnest and behaves impeccably when there are family and friends onboard. In true Ford style, it is very comfortable and very easy to get on with. And, although the option list is lengthy, it is well worth taking the time to ponder over.4 November 2006
Ford S-MAX Road Test Data
|Model Reviewed||Ford S-MAX 2.5i Titanium X|
|Performance (manufacturers data)|
|0 - 62 mph||7.4 Seconds|
|Top Speed||143 mph|
|Fuel Type||Unleaded Petrol|
|CO2 Emissions (NEDC Figures)||g/km|
|Economy (NEDC Figures)|
|Extra Urban||39.8 mpg|
|Euro NCAP Rating||5|
|Warranty||3-Year / 60,000 Mile Warranty|
|Price (when tested on the 04/11/06)||£21,995|