Ford S Max 2.3 Review
Ford to the Max!

Story by Dhany Osman, pictures by Azfar Hashim
24 Jan 2008

For some, the very thought of an MPV evokes images of baby-strollers and weekend drives with the extended family - the kind where either the little ones or the old fogies get junked in those claustrophobia-inducing back seats. To shallow alpha-males, that ‘family-friendly’ vibe of an MPV can also, at its worst, represent fading masculinity, impending hair loss and the resignation to never again chase that sports-car-with-supermodel-attachment fantasy.

Daddy's got a brand new bag/Going Inside

Whichever category you might be in, however, we can all now be thankful for the small mercies provided by the new Ford S-MAX.

At first sight, the S-MAX appears to be a sleeker and more compressed version of the usual MPV design. Perhaps it was the flaming red colour of the test unit I was given, or maybe it was that it hugged closer to the ground than I expected, but either way the car’s look expressed a sense of aggression that seemed to deny any ‘soccer-mom’ associations that came with this type of automobile.

Adding to this is the S-MAX’s extremely responsive steering and acceleration. With a 6-speed automatic transmission, including a ‘sports’ mode that is sure to delight the compulsive gear-shifters amongst us. A 2.3-liter in-line 4 engine churing out 161 horses help pull this modern carriage from 0-100km in an impressive 10.7 seconds. Peak torque of 208Nm is achieved at a stratospheric high of 4000rpm. A pity, considering that drivability of the S-MAX could be further improved if peak torque could be achieved at a lower engine RPM. But I am just nit-picking here.

For a decently large vehicle, it also handles well. Yep, raise your eyebrows now. Believe me when I say this big tub of a people mover is absolutely adorable around corners. It dives into tight corners with barely any bodyroll while exhibiting a quiet air of composure and confidence. The secret? The combination of the donor chasis from the Volvo S80 and the hard work of the engineers at Ford who managed to tweak the chasis brilliantly to suit the S-MAX to a T.

All in all, performance-wise, this car exudes a balance of power (with a maximum torque of 208Nm at 4000rpm) and grace that will have you boldly overtaking lesser highway-bound mortals while grandma dozes peacefully in the back.

As the company’s third MPV to be released, the S-MAX is here to cater to fans of the 5-seater C-MAX who want to take (or simple have) more company along for every ride.

Though it may appear compact from the outside - a quality that admittedly helps give the S-MAX a more ‘sporty’-looking profile than the average MPV - this vehicle has a deceptively spacious interior. Both the driver and front passenger seats are blessed with small oceans of legroom and remain comfortably roomy even when pushed fully forward.

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Engine Capacity 2261cc
Engine Type Inline 4
Power 161bhp @ 6500rpm
Torque 208Nm @ 4000rpm
Power to Weight 97.1 bhp per ton


Acceleration 10.7s (0-100 km/h)
Top Speed 193 km/h
Fuel Consumption (combined) 10.3 km/L

Misc Technical Data

Transmission 6 -speed Auto Tiptronic
Drive Type FF


Body Type MPV
(L x W x H)
(4786 x 2154 x ) mm
Wheelbase 2850 mm
Kerb Weight 1658 kg


Brakes (Front) Ventilated Discs
Brakes (Rear) Discs