By Mike Torpey on 2016-02-27 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Ford S-MAX 2.0 TDCI
I ALWAYS preferred the click to the squeak.
Probably because you felt for that point of resistance as the dial turned gently clockwise - and those sounds of the 60s or 70s came flooding into the car from a solitary speaker somewhere down by your ankles.
The squeak was far more tedious, the result of trying to open the car window with a winder that could usually benefit from a few drops out of a can of 3 in 1.
And what about those fantastic old orange indicators that popped out from between the front and back windows?
Times have certainly changed, to the point that modern cars have enough technology to put a man on the moon.
Nor do you have to invest in the plushest, most expensive executive limousines to enjoy these creature comforts and advanced safety systems.
The new Ford S-MAX seven-seater, the car credited with making people-carrying cool, is a case in point.
It highlights how family-friendly vehicles, costing from around £25,000 if you fancy the Ford, can come equipped with the sort of advanced kit that just a few years ago would have been the preserve of the most expensive executive models.
Even without the technology the S-MAX has plenty to offer, not least due to its sleek styling with sculpted bonnet, raised chrome grille and slim headlamp design.
There's also a more open and airy interior while the seats now have thinner backs to provide more legroom.
That's in addition to 32 seating and load-space combinations, as well as easy-fold second and third row seats.
So easy in fact that a light kick below the rear bumper opens the tailgate and the press of a button flops down the middle row seats.
But it's the raft of techno treats - some standard, others optional - that give the S-MAX so much added appeal.
For instance this is the model imminently due to herald the brand's Adaptive Steering technology, designed to adjust the steering ratio to match the car's speed.
Then there are the optional Adaptive LED headlights with glare-free high beam - so other drivers aren't dazzled.
Safety features are also a priority with the likes of Active City Stop collision avoidance (£900), lane keeping aid, traffic sign recognition and cruise control with adjustable speed limiter.
And the company's Active Park Assist with parallel and perpendicular parking - that automatically parks the S-MAX for you - is a steal at an extra Â£150.
We all need to stay connected and SYNC2 with its 8-inch touchscreen lets you talk to the system for selecting music, controlling the sat nav, adjusting the temperature or receiving hands-free phone calls.
MyKey is also a standard feature. While stopping short of a complete Big Brother-type approach, the set-up enables parents to place restrictions on young drivers to promote safer driving.
It means the car owner can programme an admin key that restricts the top speed of the car, peg the maximum volume of the sound system, deliver an earlier low fuel warning and improve speed awareness through alerts at a set level from 45mph upwards.
Technology has certainly moved on, but then so too has efficiency and the tried and tested 180ps 2.0 TDCI diesel powering this model was not only sweet and swift but also topped an average 50mpg.
Ford S-MAX 2.0 TDCI Titanium
Mechanical: 180ps, 1,997cc 4-cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via six-speed manual transmission
Max Speed: 131mph
0-62mph: 9.7 seconds
Combined MPG: 56.4
Insurance Group: 24
C02 emissions: 129g/km
Bik rating: 23%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
IT took the best part of 10,000 miles but finally our Ford S-MAX found its...
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