Ford S-MAX (2006-2014)

When the Ford S-MAX arrived in 2006 it cut a dash like no other car in its segment. Seen by some as the world’s first seven-seater sportscar, thanks to its handling prowess, the S-MAX was capable enough to secure the 2007 European Car of the Year award. For many, having a family means an end to enjoying driving, but thanks to Ford, you don’t have to make such compromises. The S-MAX also makes a brilliant tow car when fitted with one of the larger engines; even when you’re not towing, some of the smaller units can feel a bit weedy. As an all-round family car however, the S-MAX is up there with the best of them, proving that the best things don’t always come in small packages.

Key dates

6/06: The S-MAX reaches UK showrooms in 2.0 and 2.5T petrol forms, alongside 1.8 and 2.0 diesels. 

5/07: ESP becomes standard range-wide 

8/07: A 2.3-litre petrol engine joins the range. 

3/08: A 175bhp 2.2 TDCi (in high-spec Titanium form only) debuts, alongside a 1.8-litre flex-fuel Econetic version that can run on E85 petrol; it’s badged FFV (FlexiFuel Vehicle). 

3/10: A facelifted S-MAX arrives, with a redesigned nose, new safety technologies, an upgraded interior plus new 2.0-litre petrol and diesel engines, along with a new dual-clutch transmission badged Powershift.


  • There’s no spare wheel and no provision for one; instead you have to use a tyre sealant.
  • If the car has front parking sensors, make sure they work; they sometimes don’t.
  • Some versions have hydraulic power steering, some electric. Both systems can be unreliable.
  • The S-MAX is a heavy front-wheel drive car. As a result, the front tyres tend to wear quickly.
  • The 1.8 and 2.2 diesel engines can be hesitant and suffer from poor economy if the ECU software hasn’t been updated since it left the factory.
  • Electrics and electronics can play up, so make sure everything works. Focus on the climate control, rear window demisters, active lighting systems and stereos.
  • Blocked ventilation drains can lead to the interior flooding, potentially the wiring loom. Fixing this properly is then very costly.

We like

  • Value
  • Choice
  • Dynamics
  • Practicality
  • Smart design
  • Spacious cabin

We don’t like

  • Unreliable early cars
  • Small boot seven-up