There’s just a touch of the dreaded ‘difficult second album’ syndrome about the new S-Max.

It was on the cards. Ford set the template for how to successfully add dynamism to a big passenger car nine years ago, and rivals on all sides have been raising their game ever since.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior

Road test editor
Looks and drives better than most but not the class-leader it was

The new S-Max doesn’t appeal in quite the same way as the previous one. On performance, ride and handling, Ford has failed to make a perfectly competent car appreciably better than what went before. It also feels as if the car’s versatility, exterior styling and perceived quality have been somewhat ‘phoned in’.

That’s being a bit hard on what remains a more than respectable, competitive and generally pleasing to drive family car – but then ‘hard’ is what the Autocar road test is here to be.

If you liked the last S-Max, chances are you’ll like this one. It’s a good car. But it’s no longer a great one.

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