► All-new third-gen Ford Galaxy tested
► Pricier than before, but roomier too
► Shares platform with new 2015 S-Max
Every Maverick needs a Goose, every Morecambe a Wise, and the new 2015 Ford Galaxy is the sensible, practical yin to the Ford S-Max’s sleeker, pseudo-sporty yang.
This is the third-generation, fresh-for-2015 Galaxy, sharing the same platform as the ’Max (and much of it with the present Mondeo) but topping it with a slightly bulkier body that prioritises space over elegance. It still doesn’t look half bad though, wearing the current Ford narrow-eyed headlights and Aston-alike grille well enough and disguising some of its boxiness with an elongated, Focus-esque bonnet treatment.
Like the old Galaxy it can seat seven, but this time around a lower floor makes it easier for them to climb in and out, and cleverer packaging provides more space for them to sit in. It’s a touch pricier than before, but Ford’s counterargument is higher forecast resale values and more kit for your money.
Can you really fit seven full-size people in the Galaxy?
You can. The second row (split into three individual chairs) can slide and tilt in one move, and although accessing the back pair is still a bit of a hop, skip and a jump, once you’re in there’s genuinely decent knee and shoulder room for average-sized adults.
Up front you actually sit slightly lower than you would in an S-Max, to enable a tiered stadium-style seating plan front to rear for a better view out. Ford’s chosen not to fit sliding doors, in the interests of maximum shoulder room.
With the rear seats stowed in the boot floor there’s a properly big boot, with electric switches built into the left hand side as standard to remotely drop each middle row seat. Spec the optional family pack (picnic tables, cargo net, sunblinds and other bits and bobs) and there are extra switches to both lower and raise the rear two as well. Encouragingly the seats’ folding mechanisms feel robust enough to easily withstand years of hard use; more so than the BMW 2-series Gran Tourer we tested recently, in fact.
Helpfully, built-in overlapping covers help stop you losing smaller bits of shopping/pets/children down the gaps between the seats once they’re folded.
What’s the 2015 Ford Galaxy engine range?
Even though they only expect them to make up 2% of Galaxy sales initially, Ford’s decided to keep a petrol presence in case the legislative pitch against diesels continues to alter in slope, so there are two four-cylinder green-pump options: a 158bhp 1.5-litre and a 237bhp 2.0-litre (the latter capable of propelling the Galaxy to 140mph).
There’s a wider diesel choice, with a 2.0-litre TDCi engine available with 118, 148 or 177bhp. The middle power output will be by far the biggest seller, hoovering up nearly 60% of projected sales. Incidentally, the two higher output options are also available with optional four-wheel drive, not seen in the Galaxy range since the lesser-spotted all-wheel-drive petrol V6 Mk1 in the late ’90s, fact-fans.
Topping the range is a 2.0-litre bi-turbo diesel, with 207bhp and a beefy 332lb ft of torque.
We drove the front-drive 148bhp 2.0 TDCi in the middle Titanium trim grade.
The old Ford Galaxy wasn’t actually that bad to drive. Still the case?
Yes, it’s pretty good for a 1.7-tonne seven-seater. It feels smaller than it really is on the road, helped by a responsive power steering setup. With a variable ratio that alters with speed, it feels almost oversensitive until you’re tuned into it, but has that pleasing sense of precision that Fords do quite well at the moment.
Suspension is MacPherson strut front, independent rear, with a similar arrangement to the Mondeo and S-Max allowing the rear wheels to travel further than previously on bump. Self-levelling rear suspension is an option to help compensate for heavier cargoes. On the road, the Galaxy deals with big bumps very well, but smaller surface imperfections can thump through the chassis disappointingly readily. Noise insulation is superb, however. There’s a touch of wind noise at cruising speeds (as you’d expect from a shed-shaped MPV) but very little in the way of engine noise makes it through to the cabin.
The 177bhp TDCi engine coped fine with two people on board but felt as if it might begin to struggle uphill when more heavily laden, which doesn’t bode all that well for the lesser engines in the range.
The Mk3 Ford Galaxy is an impressively well-executed large people carrier. It’s seriously spacious inside, even in the third row, there are acres of cubby storage, and it handles far more tidily than a people carrier of this size really should.
Apart from the odd patch of cheap-feeling plastic, and a centre console that looks minimal and modern today but might begin to appear a touch plain in years to come, the interior has a pleasantly grown-up feel, and on initial impressions its quality is hard to fault.
It deserves a place towards the top of any large MPV shortlist, alongside the similarly practical, more avant-garde (and more ergonomically flawed) Citroen C4 Grand Picasso and the sliding door-equipped, freshly facelifted VW Sharan and Seat Alhambra siblings. The S-Max is the enemy from within, marginally cheaper and sharper to drive but less roomy and smaller booted, while the smaller-still BMW 2-series Gran Tourer also handles better and offers a plusher interior but isn’t as comfortable, or as practical.