, Ford S Max 2.3 Review
Who's Max?

Story & pictures by Azfar Hashim
19 Mar 2008

The funky Ford S-Max is here to grab a share of the popular MPV pie, but with local favourite - the Toyota Previa – at its sight, how will the S-Max appeal to MPV buyers? We took both out for a head-to-head test…  

Exterior styling

I recently asked a good friend of mine why he bought an MPV as his first car. You see, he doesn’t really have a large family – he only needs a car to ferry his wife, two little children and the maid, so I was quite surprised why he decided to buy an MPV instead of a sedan. I got an interesting list of answer from him – need space to carry the prams, need space for baby seats, just need a large car, and best of all, something that goes along the line of “to show off to my mates in office”. Heck, I personally don’t think it justifies why he needs an MPV, as even a 2.0-litre sedan can do the job.

Then I have a cousin who traded in his humble four year old sedan for an MPV just last month. Well, at least his reasons behind the purchase of an MPV are very much justified – he needs to ferry his wife, three kids and in-laws most of the time. Hence the REAL and practical need for an MPV.

People buy an MPV for various reasons, and it is obvious something that used to be called “box on wheels”, is becoming a lifestyle accessory now. And that’s exactly what we have here – two MPVs, (or lifestyle accessory or whatever you want to classify it) battling out against each other. One is a local favourite, while the other is a new contender determined to make its presence felt. Who will come out tops in this battle of the MPV?

Hands down, this is the department where the S-Max trumps over the Previa. Let us tell you why…

If you were to compare the two, the Ford S-Max definitely appears more appealing, especially to those seeking a sporty-looking MPV. To begin with, the S-Max has tonnes of details around its exterior – flared wheel arches, air vents along the fenders and sporty front and rear bumpers. And to make it even radical, Ford did the unthinkable by plonking the round foglamps just below the headlamps.

It even come factory fitted with 17-inch alloy wheels wrapped in Michelin rubbers and two exhaust tailpipes to make the whole works livelier. All these glitzy details will surely win fans who want an MPV that doesn’t look too drab, making it perfect for those of you who already outgrew the hot hatch phase and looking for a less than ordinary family carriage.

It’s a whole different story for the Toyota Previa though - parked next to the S-Max, the Previa is simply plain. Then again, although it lacks the sportiness offered by the S-Max, what the Previa offers instead is a more sophisticated and classy outlook. The familiar bulbous body of the Previa doesn’t have the glory details of the S-Max, sadly, but we reckon some additional kits will go a long way at making it more exciting. We’re sorry, but really – there’s nothing much else to say about the Previa. Even the 16-inch alloy wheel doesn’t do much to improve the overall exterior aesthetics.


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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