By Mike Torpey on 2019-03-30 - 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
THE Ford S-MAX has been credited as the car that made people-carrying cool.
Comfy and adaptable, the spacious seven-seater looks more stylish than ever thanks to a sleeker roofline - and if that's reduced headroom a touch, well you'd hardly notice.
In fact you could say that the popular Ford represents everything positive about owning a family car.
SUVs may be the go-to models these days but they aren't as versatile as the S-MAX, nor as rewarding to drive, and if that raised driving position is what you need then the Ford isn't exactly flush to the ground itself.
The S-MAX also highlights how family-friendly vehicles, costing from around £26,500 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 with its open, airy interior while the individually adjustable seats have thin 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.
Kids and cargo are also well catered for, with plenty of cubby space around the cabin, tray tables in the rear plus tie-downs in the boot.
But it's the raft of techno treats - some standard, others optional - that give the S-MAX an extra splash of appeal.
They include the brand's Adaptive Steering technology, designed to adjust the steering ratio to match the car's speed.
Then there are the 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, lane keeping aid, traffic sign recognition, cruise control with adjustable speed limiter and Ford's Active Park Assist with parallel and perpendicular parking - that automatically parks the S-MAX for you - all available.
We all need to stay connected and SYNC3 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.
While a pair of efficient EcoBoost petrol engines are part of a 23-strong S-MAX line-up, the 2.0-litre TDCI diesel - with 150ps on tap the lowest powered of the oil burners - still offers plenty of punch and decent torque too.
Sweet, strong and beautifully damped to drive, we managed to return an average 50 miles per gallon during a week of mixed urban and open-country motoring.
Ford S-MAX 2.0 TDCI Titanium PowerShift
Mechanical: 150ps, 1,997cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox
Max Speed: 122mph
0-62mph: 10.8 seconds
Combined MPG: 53.3
Insurance Group: 21
C02 emissions: 139g/km
Bik rating: 31%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
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