Monday 16 December 2019

Frugal seven-seater delivers on all fronts

Andrew English had the Ford S-Max on long-term test and cracked the magic 40mpg barrier -- just in time for Ford to take the car back

IT took 15,000 miles to finally crack the 40mpg average in our Ford S-Max diesel. I had wondered if the only way to cross this fuel-economy Rubicon was to start measuring once the engine was warm. Certainly the warmer early summer weather will have helped, but these are real odometer-checked tank-top to tank-top figures, gained over thousands of miles of mixed usage including many cold starts. So what changed?

Maybe a bit of driver training. Using the torque of the 161bhp, 2.0-litre diesel which, with a six-speed Ford/Getrag twin-shaft and Powershift transmission, requires a gentle approach to the accelerator. What I can't help thinking, however, is that the engine has fully bedded in and internal friction levels have reached their optimum. In the last few weeks before we bid farewell, the S-Max was delivering a steadfast 44mpg.

Its versatility has spoiled us for whatever follows. Regular dashes down the country, towing the Triking three-wheeler to race meetings and weekly shops were handled brilliantly. No, we didn't use the seven-seat option too often, but when you do need all seven seats there's no substitute.

In Titanium specification, costing €41,345 with metallic paint, this S-Max model was not cheap, but it came fully loaded.

We used and liked the twin-zone air-conditioning, the excellent satnav (plus-€1,670 to €2,630) and intelligent cruise control (plus-€3,280). The voice-activated controls were, on the other hand, an absolute pillage of your wallet.

Ford has proved in the last 12 months that it is possible to have seven seats, acres of space with lots of kit, sporting handling and great economy.

That was always the promise of this 2007 European Car of the Year and, four years later, it's still delivering.

Sunday Independent

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