Ford S-Max Review

The old Ford S-Max was a practical seven seater that was also good to drive and had sharp styling. This all new model has all the credentials of the old one, but with improvements in every area.


This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car

What's good

  • Seven seats
  • Comfortable
  • Fun to drive

What's not so good

  • Boot seats are tight
  • Diesel not as responsive as rivals
  • VW's interior quality is better

Ford S-Max: what would you like to read next?

Overall verdict

Interior quality has been improved and the dashboard layout simplified. It’s now centred around an eight-inch touchscreen. However, reviewers note that there are still some hard and cheap-looking plastics. Room for passengers and luggage is huge – even with seven people on board you still have a bigger boot than most small hatchbacks.

The old S-Max was the best car to drive in its class and this new model is equally involving. It’s not only fun around twisty country roads, but also comfortable on the motorway – road and engine noise are both kept to a minimum. Diesel engines are the ones to go for as they feel punchy even when the S-Max is fully loaded.

The new S-Max is a bit dearer than its rivals, but every trim level comes with a good amount of equipment. The infotainment screen is standard across the range, as is the SYNC 2 system that lets you connect your phone to the stereo – it can even monitor the driver’s heart rate.

The S-Max is the perfect car for the keen driver with a large family

Mat Watson
carwow expert

In a world of square and unimaginative people carriers, the new S-Max remains the best choice for someone who not only wants space and practicality, but also enjoys the occasional blast down a country road once the kids have been dropped off. The new S-Max offers a blend of relaxing but fun dynamics and practical interior – the complete opposite of the conservatively styled and dreary-to-drive rival seven-seaters.

What's it like inside?

The S-Max's dashboard is very similar to the Mondeo's

Feels fairly sturdy but you can’t ignore its drab design and unintuitive infotainment system for ever…

Read full interior review

How practical is it?

The middle row of seats can slide back and forth, as well as recline

You’ll have no trouble carrying four tall passengers in the S-Max and its boot is a doddle to load but the rearmost seats are only really suitable for kids

Forget the weekly shop, you can carry the entire stockroom of a large Asda in the back of the S-Max – if you fold all its seats down first, that is

Mat Watson
carwow expert
Boot (seats up)
700 litres
Boot (seats down)
2,020 litres

The S-Max has seven individual seats arranged in three rows. The middle row can independently slide back and forth and also recline. It has enough room for two adults, but three will notice limited elbow room. The third row is best kept for kids because an adult will find their knees pressed to their chest – the Ford Galaxy is a better bet if you need more space. The third row of seats is very easy to raise and drop, making the £400 optional electric seat-folding system unnecessarily frivolous.

Seats are comfortable and supportive in all the right areas. Couple that to the range of adjustability to the steering column and the S-Max offers a very good driving position with a good overview of the road ahead.

This being a family car, there are lots of small cubbies and storage areas dotted all around the cabin. You can find space for everything from keys to 1.5-litre water bottles.

The boot is not the biggest in class, but is still huge and has a usable shape. The low loading lip and flat area when the seats are folded down mean the S-Max can fit a lot of luggage. With all the seats up there is 285 litres of space – more than a Fiesta. With all the seats on the floor the space is a van-like 2,020 litres. That is 169 litres more than what the Grand C4 Picasso can hold.

What's it like to drive?

The S-Max is the best to drive among alternatives, proving that an MPV doesn’t have to be boring to drive

The S-Max feels light on its feet giving confidence to the driver despite its substantial size

Mat Watson
carwow expert

The new S-Max is offered with a choice of two petrol engines and one diesel in four power levels. A six-speed automatic transmission is available as an option as well as, for the first time, four-wheel drive.

The diesels feel much faster and eager in the real world than the petrols. The most frugal option with 120hp can achieve 56.9mpg and produces 129g/km of CO2. The same mpg and CO2 emissions are expected from the 150hp and 180hp versions. The 210hp twin-turbocharged 2.0-litre diesel is the pick of the range if you want the fastest S-Max. For any other purpose, the 150hp and 180hp versions are perfectly suited for moving the car along.

Starting from a 1.5-litre with 120hp and ending with a 240hp 2.0-litre the petrol range is limited, to put it mildly. The small 120hp engine struggles with the weight of the car and the 240hp one, taken from the Focus ST, is way too thirsty on fuel so you better stick with the diesels

The S-Max feels smaller than it actually is – some even compare it to the Ford Fiesta. The new S-Max is fun to throw around a twisty country road, but also surprisingly manoeuvrable around town.

Ride quality is another area where the new S-Max receives good reviews – it is described as remarkably composed. The Ford is very comfortable on the motorway and passengers don’t feel tired after a long journey. Road noise, tyre roar and engine sound are rarely heard in the well-insulated cabin making the S-Max a very capable cruiser.

Read about prices & specifications
RRP £28,410 Find new, used & lease car deals