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.”
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…
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