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Preview: All-new, 2014 Ford S-MAX

Preview: All-new, 2014 Ford S-MAX

Just ahead of the new the Ford S- MAX Concept reveal at the Frankfurt Motor Show next week, the international motoring media were invited to a stark, concrete-constructed modern art museum in the heart of the Dusseldorf countryside to view the new car in its near-production form.

It’s billed as a concept and some of the more expensive-looking and high-design features we saw may not make it through to the final car, but the metalwork all over the body is the production car shape we’ll see, so we can understand the new 7-seater MPV’s look and style, as well as the technology and safety also to be found when it goes on sale next year.

Ford’s current flagship and biggest car, the S-MAX, has performed well in the sales charts in the 8 years it’s been with us; mixing 7-seated practicality with a still rather sleek shape – for a taller, more spacious car – and an impressive driving experience thanks to its Mondeo underpinnings. The current S-MAX takes a big family on tour with all their luggage, and can still turn in an exciting back lane drive when the kids aren’t in tow. There must be plenty of attraction on the styling front too because the S-MAX is purchased and desired by proportionally more women than men.

Personally, I was pleasantly surprised by the current S-MAX when I test drove it. Sometimes, these taller MPV-style cars can suffer from the extra weight and height that they carry over the saloon cars on which they are based. But the S-MAX, with the 163PS, 2-litre turbodiesel engine and 6-speed PowerShift auto gearbox that I drove, was poised, quick, smooth and quiet. And it had much of the lively and enjoyable chassis traits of its platform donor Mondeo too.

Ford are keen to build on this reputation as an all-round family-and-fun driving star with the all-new S-MAX model, which again takes it platform from the Mondeo; the all-new Mondeo that’s coming quite soon, as well as the new Ford front-end styling.

The concept car shown to us in Dusseldorf is the very same car as shown in our lead image, and while we didn’t get to drive it, there was much to look at outside and in.

That new Ford front-end is striking. A trapezoidal front grille and deeply-swept-back and LED-filled headlights lead the way for the new S-MAX, and from there it’s a feast of curves and sleek detailing. The new car looks low and darting, and while this is achieved with a lower roof-line compared to the current S-MAX – as well as a slimmer glasshouse area – the Ford people tell us that interior space will not be compromised by that exterior sleekness.

At the rear of the new car we see B-MAX-style (Ford’s smallest MPV), very slim rear lights, again with plenty of fashionable LEDs, and that familiar S-MAX C-pillar shape treatment to remind us of the current model. On top of it all is a large glass roof to fill the interior with light.

While the metalwork we see here will make it into production – including the deeply creased highlight line running through the doors, and the stockily tall shoulder-lines meeting the bottom of the glasshouse – some other styling details won’t make the final cut due to cost or practicality.

It’s unlikely that many new S-MAX models will come with the 21-inch alloy wheels we see here, although an 18-inch or indeed 19-inch wheel may well be offered, and the production car will have external door handles and less intricate door mirrors. But we see the overall style of the new car and that style is modern, reassuringly chunky and just a little bit aggressive. Much like the current S-MAX that has won so many fans.

Inside, it’s a bit of a concept car treat too, with stunning seats of carbon fibre and suede and plenty of sculpturing to dashboards and centre console areas. Again, we’re not sure how much of this luxury will make into the production S-MAX, but I’m sure the higher spec cars will get much comfort and style. But, of course, the basic space and 7 seats – the third row pair dropping into the boot floor when not in use – will be ready and waiting for all when new S-MAX goes on sale.

There’s new tech abound too. Features that we are already familiar with – like parking assistance for parallel and standard car park space too, and a pedestrian avoidance system – are back with the new S-MAX, but further refined and accurate. Ford’s SYNC system – made with Microsoft – comes to S-MAX for the first time and means that all-round appliance and device connectivity will be ready for you and the family, and everything we see from colour screens to the navigation and accident early warning systems are the best that Ford can currently make them. And in many ways Ford are leading the pack in accessible, cost-effective safety technology.

The new Ford S-MAX goes on sale in 2014 with plenty of modern engines to choose from, with the Ford range of powerplants up there with the most advanced of any manufacturer, and there’s word too of a new 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder, turbocharged EcoBoost petrol engine too. We don’t know the new EcoBoost performance or economy stats yet, but rest assured, it should bring the best ever economy and driving enjoyment of any engine around, of the same configuration.

The future looks good for S-MAX fans indeed, with a sleek and sturdy new shape coming to Ford dealers next year, and some of the most advanced safety and economy tech we’ve seen in the segment yet. And if the driving experience of the new S-MAX matches that of the current model it will surely be another 7-seat MPV hit for the blue oval badge.

Posted by Craig SalterADNFCR-3205-ID-801630140-ADNFCR