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Ford S-Max: A new dimension
Between C-Max and new Galaxy

Ford S-Max: front side view.

Ford's new S-Max MPV shares platform with new Galaxy and next Mondeo.

13th March 2006.

Europeans are still fond of minivans, as they are called in the U.S., or MPVs (multi-purpose vehicles), or monospace as they are known in (Renault's) Modus, Scenic and Espace land.

That is why Ford didn't come to the 2006 Geneva Motor Show with one European-style  minivan, but two: the Ford S-Max, with its 5- or 7-passenger capabilities (rather 5+2), and the new generation Ford Galaxy.

Both models are part of Ford of Europe revival, which was symbolised especially with the new Focus Coupe Covertible too (more about the Focus Coupe / Cabriolet)

Since the Ford Focus C-Max is a 5-passenger minivan, it is only too logical to see the S-Max, fitting between Mondeo and Galaxy, the three of them sharing a common architecture (the next-generation Mondeo, which is expected for next year).

To be more precise, the new Ford S-MAX offers 5+2 seating, which means that the sixth and seventh passenger space are more for convenience, with limited space compared to the bigger Galaxy for instance.

The optional third seat row has been designed to accommodate passengers with a height of less than 1.8 metres.

Ford S-Max: back side view.

Ford S-MAX is 4,768mm long, 1,854mm  wide and 1,607mm high.

The new S-MAX features Ford's Fold Flat System (FFS), which keeps all seats on board as well as providing good luggage space, with 26 stowage compartments, new user friendly technologies and Ford Intelligent Protection System, which provides latest driver assistance and occupant protection technologies, including a new driver's knee airbag.

Being smaller than Galaxy allows Ford's S-Max to afford a more sporty character, highlighted with the availability of a 220PS Duratec 5-cylinder turbo engine from the Focus ST .

Outside, the new S-MAX is Ford's first production model to include elements of its 'Kinetic Design' form language, first previewed in the Ford SAV Concept vehicle at Geneva 2005.

The front end is characterised by its distinctively angled nose and dynamic headlamps, with the fog lamps placed inbound and high on the front bumper, a slim upper grille and a large inverted trapezoid below the number plate area.

Ford S-Max: driver seat and instruments

S-MAX gets a new airbag for the driver's knee area.

On the sides, the roof line stretches into the bonnet, over pronounced wheel arches and trailing-edge vents before reaching the kick-up to the rear of the window glass area. An optional Panorama Roof is also available.

Compared to the new Galaxy, Ford S-MAX is 69mm lower (1,607mm vs. 1,676mm) and more than 50mm shorter in overall length (4,768mm vs. 4,820mm).

With the Ford Fold Flat System (FFS), second-row seats and the optional third-row seats don't have to be removed from the car to free up additional luggage space. The seats fold away individually to form a flat floor, giving up to 32 possible seating combinations, all attainable with ease.

Inside, designers had 127mm more length to work with than in the original Ford Galaxy (4,768mm vs. 4,641mm). An overall width increase of 60mm (1,854mm vs. 1,794mm) is another ingredient in the recipe for a more passenger- and stowage-friendly vehicle. Designers also provided better headroom while achieving an 83mm reduction in overall vehicle height (1,607mm vs. 1,692mm) for the sporty silhouette of the new S-MAX.

Matching the sporty cockpit feel, Ford S-MAX offers an 8-way power adjustable sport seat for the driver. It provides separate adjustments for fore/aft, seating height, cushion angle and seat-back recline. An extensive amount of seat travel (319mm) accommodates occupants from a very wide body height range. S-MAX will also offer a manual seat with 6-way adjustment and lumbar support, depending on series.

Compared with the previous Galaxy, Ford S-MAX offers second-row passengers a seating height elevated by 64mm, 60mm more legroom up to a class-leading 1,062mm, and more shoulder room (1,535mm vs. 1,523mm).

In addition, each of the three individual seats can be adjusted independently. For an even more relaxed posture during long trips, the second-row seats feature a refined recline system with a lower pivot point. When reclining the backrest of the seat, the cushion will adjust by automatically inclining down.

Ford S-Max: side view.

With all rear seats down , maximum luggage capacity reaches 2 m3.

Air conditioning will be standard equipment on all new S-MAX models, and for even better interior climate control, dual Electronic Automatic Temperature Control (EATC) will be available as an option. The EATC system features separate temperature controls for the driver, the front passenger and the second row passengers.

Two sets of sophisticated steering wheel-mounted toggle switches in combination with an instrument cluster centre display form the basis for Ford's latest-generation Human Machine Interface. HMI is standard on all Ford S-MAX models. It optimises the interaction of the driver with the comfort and entertainment systems.

In addition to the Ford Fold Flat System, several tie-down points are located across the floor and up the sides of the vehicle, helping secure items placed in the rear compartment.

When specified as a seven seater and with all seats raised in position, S-MAX offers a luggage volume of 285 litres.

Without the third row of seats, S-MAX offers 854 litres of volume behind the seatbacks of the second row - over 50% of the boot / trunk of a very large sedan.

With all rear seats down and loaded to roof, maximum luggage capacity reaches 2,000 litres. With all rear seats folded flat, the load floor offers a space 2m deep and 1.15m wide.

Also, Ford offers the S-Max with an optional sliding cargo platform, instead of the third seat row. This convenience feature allows the loading of shopping goods or travel bags with ease. With the tailgate open, the platform can be pulled out by 48 cm. It then slides back into the vehicle with a drawer-type motion once loading has finished.

Ford S-Max: driving shot.

Depending on versions, S-Max can be an... express, sporty MPV.

The S-MAX can be specified with a variety of audio and communications systems, and steering-wheel mounted toggle switches for the HMI system provide full driver control. Depending on market and on series, stereo radio/cassette or stereo radio/CD players can be selected, including a 6-CD autochanger. A DVD Multi-media system is also available, featuring LCD screens in the rear of the front seat headrests.

On the safety side, the S-MAX has been equipped with an enhanced version of Ford's Intelligent Protection System including a new airbag for the driver's knee area.

New safety systems introduced for S-MAX include Adaptive Cruise Control with Forward Alert and Collision Mitigation by Braking. These driver aids are based on radar distance control technology.

S-MAX introduces also Interactive Vehicle Dynamics Control (IVDC), Ford's new active suspension system which integrates:
- Continuously Controlled Damping to improve suspension performance and comfort in all road conditions and interact with the vehicle's ESP system for better dynamic vehicle behaviour,
- Hill-Launch-Assist, which allows the driver to release the brake pedal and to step on the accelerator pedal without the vehicle rolling backwards,
- Ford's new Tyre Pressure Monitoring System.

The S-MAX engine line-up features two Duratec petrol and three Duratorq TDCi diesels. Top of the range is the 220PS (162 kW) , Duratec 2.5-litre 5-cylinder turbo engine, also used in the Focus ST .

The 2.0 litre Duratec 145 PS (107 kW) engine plus clean diesels round out the range: 1.8 litre Duratorq TDCi 125 PS (92 kW) , 2.0 litre Duratorq TDCi 130 PS (96 kW) with DPF , 2.0 litre Duratorq TDCi 140 PS (103 kW) with or without DPF (diesel particles filter).

The new S-MAX suspension is more sporty than the bigger Galaxy, which is tuned to a considerably more relaxed ride.

Compared with Galaxy, S-MAX's slightly lower centre of gravity, different damper tuning and spring travel of slightly less than 200mm offers precision ride and handling designed for a more enthusiastic driver. Ford's optional new IVDC active suspension with Continuously Controlled Damping provides even better handling, comfort and stability, plus shorter braking distances.

Prices will be announced nearer to market launch before this summer.

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