Ford S-MAX ST-Line

FHEV CVT

Ford S-MAX, 2022, front
Ford S-MAX, 2022, nose
Ford S-MAX, 2022, front
Ford S-MAX, 2022, side
Ford S-MAX, 2022, rear
Ford S-MAX, 2022, cabin
Ford S-MAX, 2022, middle row seats
Ford S-MAX, 2022, interior
Ford S-MAX, 2022, tail
Ford S-MAX, 2022, rear
Ford S-MAX, 2022, boot

SOME seven-seaters look and drive like the bulky people movers they are - but that's certainly not the case with the latest Ford S-MAX.

This stylish full-sized MPV boasts impressive performance and handling while still covering all the practicality bases along the way.

And with its latest 2.5-litre petrol-hybrid powertrain, the running costs are not so bad either.

Our S-MAX came in ST-Line trim level costing £40,650. Some Lucid Red paintwork, an ST-Line Lux Pack with adaptive LED headlights, full leather seats and a powered tailgate, together with a Driver Assistance Pack that added lots of extra safety tech, saw the final price climb to £44,500.

For that outlay, you do get a whole lot of car though with the likes of a 10-way powered driver's seat, SYNC 3 with an eight-inch touchscreen, sat nav, smartphone connectivity, dual zone air conditioning, heated seats and steering wheel, plus plenty more besides.

The S-MAX has a great road presence thanks to a full body styling kit, privacy glass, rear spoiler, ST-Line scuff plates, a large grille, along with 18-inch alloys with red brake calipers.

But the really surprising factor is just how nice the front-wheel drive S-MAX handles. With 190PS of power and 200Nm of torque the 2.5-litre petrol-hybrid engine delivers plenty of zip with a 0-62mph sprint time of 9.9 seconds and it tops out at 115mph.

It can deliver a combined 43.5mpg with carbon emissions of 148g/km. It is a self-charging hybrid so when the car is started up, it pulls away in near silence in EV mode, but after a few seconds the petrol engine kicks in.

Despite its size - it stretches 4.8 metres in length and is almost two metres across - the S-MAX is beautifully agile and easy to drive. It cruises on motorways at 70mph and the cabin is refined too with barely any sign of road or engine noise filtering through. It does get noticeably noisier when you want a sudden burst of power for overtaking, but this is the norm for CVT transmissions.

It handles well on fast, twisting country lanes although tighter bends need to be attacked with a degree of caution to avoid any body movement, but the acceleration, performance and steering do impress. And special mention to the superb suspension system that somehow manages to make our bumpy road surfaces feel smooth.

There are 32 seating and storage configurations and the seats in rows two and three can be lowered at the press of a button just inside the boot, but they need to be raised manually which is simple enough.

There is lots of room in row two with three individual seats that can slide and recline, but just like most seven-seaters, the duo of rear seats are not quite so spacious. They would be ideal for youngsters though.

Storage limits are good ranging from 285 litres with all seats upright to 2,020 litres with just the front seats in use.And throughout the cabin, there are plenty of storage options with a deep central cubby bin, a glovebox, front cup holders, a dashboard-mounted compartment with lid, sunglasses holder, practical door bins, two fold-down trays, plus an extra drop down mirror so the driver can keep an eye on the youngsters in the back.

The S-MAX is packed with safety kit with features such as traffic sign recognition, lane keeping aid and cruise control with an adjustable speed limiter. But our car also gained extra safety aids thanks to the optional Driver Assistance Pack, costing £1,500. This introduced blind spot information, active park assist with parallel and perpendicular parking, adaptive cruise control, front and rear cameras, along with an upgraded 12-speaker Sony sound system.

FAST FACTS

Ford S-MAX ST-Line FHEV CVT

Price:£40,650

Mechanical:190ps, 2,488cc, 4-cylinder, petrol hybrid engine with CVT automatic gearbox

Max Speed:115mph

0-62mph:9.9 seconds

Combined MPG:43.5

Insurance Group:22

C02 emissions:148g/km

Bik rating:34%

Warranty:3yrs/60,000 miles

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