Ford’s S-Max MPV still seems a spring chicken, but it has in fact been on sale since 2006. Hence the 2010 facelifted S-Max you see here, ushering in a range of cosmetic tweaks (minor) and engineering upgrades (rather more significant). We’ve tested the all-new model, premiering Ford’s new global EcoBoost engines.
Announced at the 2009 Detroit auto show, EcoBoost has a certain Ronseal quality to it. It doffs its hat to the environment (the ‘eco’ bit) with a slew of technology, including variable valve timing, direct injection and turbocharging (the ‘boost’ bit), allowing smaller capacities without any damage to performance, says Ford.
The results? This 2.0-litre four-cylinder in the EcoBoost develops a stout 200bhp and useful 221lb ft of twist; key green figures are 34.8mpg combined and 189g/km of CO2. Not head-jerkingly clean figures, but way ahead of the 2.5-litre five-pot it replaces with the tax-crucial CO2 figure tumbling by a useful 35g/km. That old Volvo-sourced five dies later this year on account of – you guessed it – emissions regs. Adieu, Quattro singalong warbles.
So what’s new on the 2010 Ford S-Max?
It’s a subtle facelift, this. A new front fascia has subtly tweaked graphics, with a reprofiled gloss black lower trapezoidal grille and a new bumper. Top-spec models like ours get LED daytime running lights. These become compulsory across Europe next year, so don’t get too excited. There’s also a new chrome strip running around the side glass and a Jag-esque chrome strip running the width of the tailgate with a prominent S-Max badge. It looks neat, modern, low-slung. An MPV for those who like to hide their fecundity.
Inside the S-Max, there’s a sprinkling of new gadgets, including keyless entry, overhead lockers and Volvo-inspired blindspot eliminators. Plus the S-Max’s party trick: five fully fold-flat individual seats that rise or fall at the tug of a cord. We’ve always liked the S-Max’s practicality and consider it the acceptable face of the family MPV.
If you think the S-Max’s rakish looks limit practicality a touch (there’s less headroom and boot space than a Galaxy), then you’re probably a minicab driver. In which case you’ll plump for the boxier Galaxy. Or a Fiat Ulysse. We’ll stick with the S-Max, thanks.
What’s the Ford S-Max 2.0 SCTi EcoBoost like to drive?
Really, really good. We’ve long been fans of the S-Max’s driving manners; it feels like a super-sized Focus, with that trademark Ford of Europe DNA. So the ride is comfortably firm but with an absorbency to smoothe away the worst road acne, while the steering responses, pedal feel and controls have that typical Ford accuracy and feel.
The S-Max’s 2.0 SCTi EcoBoost engine slots nicely into this whole package. While not as distinctive as the ST’s 2.5, the four-pot is cultured enough and dodges the clackety racket that besets some direct-injection petrols. You can feel the horsepower and torque working hard to keep that 1.7-tonne kerbweight moving, and performance is in fact very lively for a big seven-seater.
This EcoBoost S-Max only comes with the twin-clutch six-speed Powershift transmission and it’s a slick affair, slurring gearchanges nicely and working well at manoeuvring speeds with no kangaroo uncertainty while parking.
So who’ll buy the Ford S-Max EcoBoost?
Herein lies the rub. MPV buyers in the UK are obsessed with diesels: 96% of S-Max types today pick derv, but Ford expects this to fall below 90% with the arrival of the downsized petrol engine. Although prices haven’t yet been announced, we’d expect this 2.0 SCTi to be pegged around £25-26k which puts it firmly in the upper echelons of the S-Max range.
That’s a shame. We like our first taste of the EcoBoost technology, but can understand why so many buyers will stick with one of the three diesel options. No matter which output you order your 2.0-litre Duratorq in – 113, 138 or 161bhp – diesel S-Max emissions stand at 152g/km and economy at 49.6mpg.
You’ve got to really want petrol to dismiss those kind of digits. But if Ford pulls a pricing surprise, we could yet re-evaluate the EcoBoosted S-Max. And don’t forget you’ll see this 2.0 engine in the Mondeo and a smaller 1.6 in the Focus family. On this evidence, we’d say the EcoBoost family deserves a thumbs-up.