Vacation S-Maximus

By Alex Ricciuti
07.14.2007

I was on holiday in Ticino [the Italian part of Switzerland] for the last two weeks. Yes, I know – tough duty all around.

So…upon my return I would like to offer a brief review of the Ford S-Max which Ford of Switzerland kindly provided to me for a test run.

First of all, this being our first holiday with the baby, now almost 4 months old, I thought I would need a car bigger than my ever-shrinking Peugeot 307. Only when you have them do you realize that kids actually require more luggage than adults. As they get older, you may find yourself one day hooking a trailer to your car just to haul their toys around.

Anyway, given my pathological fear of packing – I always forget at least one important thing and instead bring a bunch of crap I don’t need – and my chronic inability to gauge spatial configurations (I couldn’t pack a can of soup into a Hummer), I panicked and went out and got the biggest car I could – just throw everything in the back and drive.

Yes, the time has come for me to play ‘Familien Vater’ and I finally got myself into an MPV. As the infamous auto journalist Jeremy Clarkson once wrote, “I have never really understood the attraction of MPVs. To me they are the first sign that the driver has given up on life.”

After my little excursion with the S-Max, I will respectfully disagree. Clarkson himself picked the Mazda5 and the C-Max as two of the top five MPVs when he was absolutely forced to make a call. And I too I liked the C-Max and found the S-Max to be more than a larger version of it. It’s actually a great drive.

The 2.0 liter diesel engine was quite powerful and responsive and had lots of pull in the Alps where you need it even though the S-Max is larger than some mobile homes. At least, that’s how it feels on the inside. From the outside, it actually looks sleek and even, dare I say, sporty, with Ford’s new ‘kinetic’ design at its best here.

Ford developed this 2.0 liter diesel with PSA and the 6 speed transmission gets the most out it. It was amazingly economical, given the size of the S-Max and how it was carrying half of our personal belongings across one of the major mountain ranges in the world. I haven’t done the exact calculus but on 1/3 of a 60 liter tank it took us effortlessly from Zurich to Ascona which is about a 300 km drive.

I loved the leather interior and the 3 adult seats in the rear. There are an optional 2 extra seats in the trunk space but I reserved that for our baby carriage and luggage. I can’t say anything bad about the car except that driving around with a wife and baby in a packed minivan didn’t make me look the part of the really cool guy I truly am.

The car may seem pricey, and at 54,000 Swiss francs plus for this fully-optioned version, you are well into C-Class, A4 and 3 series territory. But, it’s worth it. Ford has made a great car here and with an excellent drive-train and chassis combination that is extremely practical and economical. This car really makes the case for what diesels can do that petrol engines can’t.

The only question this Canadian has for Ford is: Why can’t you, for the life of you, come even close to building a vehicle, or actually any car, this good, in North America?

That’s a question that the auto analyst in me can answer quite easily. Putting on my other hat as an automotive enthusiast, it is perplexing, to say the least. But that is the subject for a subsequent post so stay tuned…

Alex Ricciuti is a freelance writer and automotive journalist based in Zurich, Switzerland. He writes frequently for Automotive News Europe.

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Author: Brendan Moore

Brendan Moore is a Principal Consultant with Cedar Point Consulting , a management consulting practice based in the Washington, DC area. He also manages Autosavant Consulting, a separate practice within Cedar Point Consulting. where he advises businesses connected to the auto industry. Cedar Point Consulting can be found at http://www.cedarpointconsulting.com.

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5 Comments

  1. I drove a Ford C-Max (smaller version of the S-Max) around Hungary. My family and I loved it. My wife said she wished she could take it home with us, back to the U.S. Fantastic fuel economy with the diesel, good looks, great handling, great use of space, etc. I have to echo your question, which is, why don’t we get these vehicles here in the States? WHY?

  2. Because the oil companies and car companies are in bed together, that’s why we don’t get these economical cars sold in Europe. The good ‘ol US of A is controlled by big companies, and they don’t want to use less gasoline, only more.

  3. I really like the way it looks.

  4. My family in England owns an S-Max, and they flat-out love it. They owned a Toyota minvan before which they didn’t like very much at all, but they love the Ford S-Max. They go on holidays with it all the time, in France and Spain.

  5. More praise for the S-Max from me as well. Also what hasn’t been mentioned is the Ford S-Max has a lot fans in Europe as it was voted Car of the Year in Europe last year.

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