Thursday 29 September 2016

How to get just desserts from new Ford Galaxy

Smaller S-MAX might suit better

Published 24/01/2016 | 02:30

Ice-cream smooth: Ford Galaxy
Ice-cream smooth: Ford Galaxy

I am reminded of a lunch not that long ago where the dessert menu looked scrumptious. I caved in immediately and had the apple crumble and ice cream. Along with a pot of Earl Grey tea, what more could you ask for, I contentedly asked myself?

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Nothing.

Well, not until this glorious peach/cream concoction landed in front of my host.

I felt my humble crumble couldn't possibly match it. Or maybe it could? Momentarily, I regretted my decision - the peachy thing looked so good.

Almost immediately I chided myself for being such a spoilt brat - a long way from peachy things I was reared, I can tell you. So I ordered another pot of tea.

I was reminded of that feeling of confusion and comparison when I came to drive the new Ford Galaxy. Because there is a rather strange choice within Ford's people carrier menu: there are the Galaxy and the S-MAX people carriers within a dessert spoon of each other on price.

Both have seven seats and there is only a €3,000 entry-level price difference. It's a fine-line choice.

The Galaxy is taller, larger, roomier and a more traditional people carrier (MPV). The S-MAX is more like an estate in looks and is less bulky; sleeker and easier to manage around town etc.

I've driven both and really it comes down to deciding what you need or want. That's not a cop out - I can't decide for your particular circumstances. But I will say this.

The Galaxy is a far better proposition for larger families, especially for those with teenagers who are not alone bigger, but tend to generate more carry-on luggage too.

The S-MAX will work for those who use the third row of two seats less frequently or have fewer, larger young bodies to accommodate.

But as this is supposed to be a review of the Galaxy, let's concentrate on that.

I've always liked the fact that the previous models drove so well - excellent chassis. As well as that, they seem to have survived the helter skelter of family transport quite well because you still see quite a few on the road.

Dynamics are not what you look for in a car like this but, trust me, it makes a hell of a difference on a long journey (Wexford and back as one example in my drives) to have a car that isn't bouncing all over the place. Not alone does it make a driver's life a lot easier, it's a lot more comfortable for passengers - as we found.

We do take a lot for granted in these cars but I never tire of the difference a good, high seating position can make too.

I tried the combinations on the seating and luggage and they seemed to work well; the important thing is it took little or no effort to fold or slide.

And there was a good gap between the slid-forward outer middle seats and the rear duo so you don't put your back out when you are strapping in the two little ones.

But with them firmly ensconced you will notice how little room there is for luggage (a bit like me after the apple crumble).

You'd need muscles to shift the rear-door/tailgate if it wasn't automatic. On that point, the doors all round seemed really heavy. I've no doubt that is a big safety feature and to be welcomed, but my goodness you sure need to push hard. The S-MAX is much easier to manage in that department - it is on such matters that decisions can turn.

You have to decide if you need the added capacity on a regular enough basis to warrant buying the larger car or if you're covering bigger mileage.

There were parts of the road to Wexford (and a separate drive to Gorey) where we travelled in virtual silence with the Galaxy - the surfaces on some stretches of the new road are ice-cream smooth. I said to myself: this is worth the extra few euro just for the comfort. Over rougher roads there was some tyre noise. As you'd expect, the 2-litre diesel had no difficulty shifting the large frame.

I'm still not sure if the Ford Galaxy is the apple crumble or the peach/cream. There is more of it but it's not quite as sweet as the S-MAX. However, you get a bigger portion for not that much extra cost.

Facts & figures

Ford Galaxy 2.0 TDCi Titanium auto(150PS, 139g/km, €280 road tax)

Standard spec includes: Sync Gen 2, 8ins touchscreen, lane-keeping aid,  automatic lights/wipers, traffic sign recognition, tri-zone air con, cruise control/intelligent speed limiter, parking sensors, 17in alloys, front fogs.

Options on test car: full leather trim, panoramic roof, 28in wheels, electric tailgate, adaptive suspension, automated parking system, front camera/collision avoidance system,

sat nav, adaptive headlights.

Price: from €38,860. Titanium from €46,385. Options bring it to €57,305. Delivery/related charges extra.

My side of the road

The recent wet and cold spells underlined, I think, how badly prepared we are for any little variation in conditions.

Considering we are more at risk at such times, isn’t it a wonder we don’t need to meet some regulatory standard of ability as part of gaining our driver’s licence?

Or would that be too politically unpopular?

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