Ford S-MAX 2.0 TDCI

Titanium

Ford S-Max, front static
Ford S-Max, side static
Ford S-Max, rear static
Ford S-Max, rear seats
Ford S-Max, boot 2
Ford S-Max, third row seats
Ford S-Max, dashboard
Ford S-Max, boot 1
Ford S-Max, front tall

AFTER 711 miles - the distance the car said it would manage with a full tank - you might be glad of something to eat.

No problem with this version of the S-MAX, Ford's people carrier with sporting genes meant to set it apart from a sea of seven seat rivals.

Press a steering wheel button and tell the car 'I'm hungry' and the sat nav springs to life with a list of local eateries and waits for you set the pub/cafe/restaurant as a destination, or phone them for you.

All very clever (and the most convincing demonstration of a voice activated system so far) and a clear indication Ford means this latest version of the S-MAX to be even more family friendly than the last.

That version earned a stellar reputation for the way it fought the inevitable flab of a large people carrier and made the car feel just a little bit sporty, while still not pushing the boundaries of physics.

So the new car has a sterling reputation to live up to, while adding a bit of width and length to make still more space for the kids and your holiday luggage.

And it is a big car - wider than a Land Rover Discovery - with benefits that stretch to enough room in the rearmost, third row of seats for a couple of smaller adults and still enough space behind them for a useful amount of luggage.

Fold down rows two and three and there's enough flat, nicely carpeted space for a modest house move or the mother and father of wine buying trips to Calais before a family wedding reception.

Add a £2,225 Titanium X pack to the car and it adds leather upholstery with the front seats heated and electrically adjusted every which way and makes an already well ordered cabin feel a little bit special.

The S-MAX revamp threw out an old an awkward manual handbrake in favour of a modest pull switch for an electrically powered system that works as well as any encountered so far.

The new instrument display has also turned electronic and is much easier to read than before, although Ford might have included a digital speed readout while they were at it.

The S-MAX range extends from a £24,795 model with a petrol engine and DIY gears to a powerful diesel auto for £33,345.

The Titanium model straddles the middle ground but never feels short changed on the equipment front.

Standard kit includes satellite navigation (easy to set, clear screen), sound system with DAB radio and dead easy mobile phone linking, front and rear parking sensors and cruise control.

A set of superb LED headlights are part of the Titanium X pack, while for another £545 you can have the vivid deep impact blue paint as on this car.

So how does this sportiest of people carriers fare when you fire up its diesel engine?

Once through a low speed feeling of deadness in the throttle pedal it moves along nicely and is notably more hushed at speed than before - indeed, it's hard to think why anyone might need a quieter place to travel in.

Lots of steady speed motorway work must have helped achieve a 47mpg readout on the trip computer; even with less likely in give and take motoring, the car does well in the drop of diesel stakes.

But it's lost the eager, anxious to please feel of the old car, with steering that's more direct than before but unhappily stodgy at the same time.

FAST FACTS

Ford S-MAX 2.0 TDCI Titanium

Price: £28,095

Mechanical: 148bhp, 1,997cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 123mph

0-62mph: 10.8 seconds

Combined MPG: 56.4

Insurance Group: 20

C02 emissions: 129g/km

Bik rating: 22%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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