Ford S-MAX Ambleside
Why it won...
Next time you see an S-MAX on the road, look at the driver’s face – they’ll probably be wearing a big grin! The notion that MPVs have to be dull to drive is long gone, and Ford has banished all thoughts of top-heavy people carriers to the history books with its superb-handling S-MAX.
The big blue oval car can teach many compact family hatches about ride and handling balance, but this is only the start of its talent. Add practicality, desirability, performance and versatility to the mix, and you can see why the S-MAX has picked up our Best MPV award for the second year running.
It’s a great family holdall, capable of carrying up to seven people, yet makes equally good sense for those who only usually transport five. The luggage space is huge and many rear passengers prefer the lofty seating position to the lower bench of a conventional family model. The icing on the cake is the S-MAX’s eye-catching shape. A pioneer of Ford’s latest sharp design language, the people mover is a car that buyers can feel proud to be seen in. Maybe this is why high-spec variants make up such a large proportion of the model’s total sales.
In a market which still draws in a huge range of customers, the Ford has once again been forced to see off a wide variety of competitors. We were enormously impressed by the value and evolution of the latest-generation Citroen Berlingo Multispace and Peugeot Partner Tepee, while Renault offers a line-up full of truly versatile vehicles. However, for those who can stretch to its £19,895 starting price, the S-MAX is the must-have MPV.
Citroen Berlingo Multispace
Practicality in its purest form – along with the near-identical Peugeot Partner Tepee, the Multispace answers the prayers of the modern family. We can’t get enough of its sliding door, wipe-clean usability. Plus, it’s now more agile and refined than ever.
Peugeot Partner Tepee
Very similar to the Citroen, the Peugeot is another versatility champion. As with the Berlingo, image is a hurdle – but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. We ran a Partner Tepee as a long-term test car, and it became one of our fleet’s most wanted models.
Renault Grand Scenic
Bosses at Renault will be pleased their reputation for building great people carriers has been upheld. The all-new version of the Grand Scenic is more comfortable, luxurious and even better value. Plus, the compact shape means it’s great around town.