A new Galaxy. Where does it fit into Ford's burgeoning array of MPVs?
It's quite simple really. The Galaxy is Ford's top-end people carrier, a genuine seven seater with a tall roof, heaps of cabin space and a big boot. It aims to do for people moving what the Transit does for lugging cargo. The others are the S-Max, a sporty 5+2-seater, and the C-Max, a five-seater based on Focus underpinnings.
Where does VW fit into all this?
Nowhere. Although the first generation Galaxy was a VW Sharan with a Ford makeover, that partnership died with the 11-year old original model. This time around, the Galaxy's mechanical bits are shared with the S-Max, forthcoming new Mondeo and even the Volvo S80.
So what's the difference between the Galaxy and S-Max?
Space. The Galaxy is longer (by 52mm) and wider (by 65mm) than the S-Max, with a bigger glasshouse and a less raked roofline. It's longer and more practical than the S, with seven genuinely usable seats. The downside is that you lose some of the S-Max's sharp dynamics and a lot of its sharp visuals.
And it's presumably less fun to drive than its sibling?
A little. The Galaxy's suspension is tuned for comfort rather than razor sharp dynamics. But, like the S-Max, it's still rewarding and fun to drive - not words you'd usually associate with a bulky MPV with room for seven. Power comes from the excellent 138bhp, 2.0-litre TDCi diesel engine mated to a six-speed gearbox. It's keen to rev and punches the Galaxy through the air with surprising refinement.
How clever is it inside?
Not Mensa rated, but it does exactly what an MPV should. The designers have sought to maximise space for occupants and their belongings. So you can fit two full size adults in the third row plus a pair of suitcases in the boot. That's more than you can manage in a big SUV or Renault’s Espace. The third row isn't easy to get into but once there you have decent head and legroom. The latter can be expanded by moving the middle row (mounted on rails) forwards. As with the S-Max you can fold both rows of seats flat into the floor. Up front it instantly feels less sporty than the S-Max. You sit behind a much taller windscreen in squashy captain's chairs complete with armrests. Cruising comfort is clearly paramount.
The Galaxy is almost more impressive than the S-Max. It's very nearly as sharp to drive and the ride is smoother thanks to softer damping. It does all this yet still has room for seven full-sized adults and their luggage. Okay, it’s not as sexy as the S-Max (it carries hints of the upcoming Mondeo) but it's an incredibly effective MPV.
It's might look like a minibus but don't underestimate it.