Vastly over-rated. Glad it's gone
Heated windscreen failed.
Third row of seats stopped locking in place.
Air con wouldn't cool the car.
Various bits of plastic came loose.
I can honestly say this is the worst car I have ever owned. It's not that there has been anything major wrong with it, it's just when you have been fortunate to own three Volvos previously, and the wife a BMW and now a Golf, the S-Max fell short. It seemed OK on a 15 minute test drive. It was fairly quiet, comfort was OK, and with three kids, the room in the back was superb. The extra seats would also come in useful.
It also had the panoramic sunroof, which I thought would be nice.
Within a week it was back at the dealer because the air con wasn't working correctly. The panoramic roof heated the car nicely on a sunny day. I often measured temperatures of over 120 F if you forgot to close the blinds, so the air con was a must. Even after it was fixed, it wasn't powerful enough to cool the car on a sunny day, so you had to keep the roof blinds closed. Kind of defeats the object. This roof wasn't any better when the weather was cold. Such a large glass area generated lots of condensation, which would run inside the roof lining, then drip on the front seats. It took a while to figure out where the stains kept coming from.
With the air con fixed, we then spent two weeks and two thousand miles driving round France. Whoever put the Kmh speeds in red obviously hasn't driven abroad on a sunny day, as there is so much glass in the S Max, the dash gets so much light that you can't read the speed you are doing. It's worse when you wear sunglasses. I spent two weeks using my TomTom as a speedo.
We had only been driving an hour when both the wife and I started to complain about back ache. The seats are not comfy on long runs. The passenger seat is worse, as there is no lumber support.
Fuel consumption was dire, and didn't improve till the day I sold it. 36 MPG is pretty poor when you consider my V70 D5, which was a heavier, bigger engined car, did over 40 MPG easily. Fully loaded with 5 of us and luggage, I was surprised to have it max out at 96 when presented with a foreign hill.
Performance wasn't great, and the most annoying thing was it would either die on you when you tried to pull away quickly, as the revs were too low for any power, or spin the wheels. I phoned Ford to book the car in to get the traction control looked at, to be told it didn't have it. I was surprised, as buying the Titanium model, a car costing over 26K new, should have it as standard. The Mondeo Ghia I had back in 2000 did.
The build quality isn't in the same league as my Volvo was, or the other premium brands. I lost count of the number of times I fastened bits of plastic back in place. Normally around the footwells where your feet catch things.
Handling was crap. It isn't anything like a car despite what some reviewers make out. It was very similar to a VW Sharan I had years ago. If you like to drive with some spirit, forget it. It just wallows about giving you this feeling it is going to roll over. The roll around bends just made the kids feel sick, so I had to plod around everywhere.
Tyre wear was looking pretty bad. I had new tyres on the front when I bought the car, covered 7000 miles before getting rid of it and there was only 3mm of tread left on.
The hifi sound quality is dreadful. I had an XR3i in 1996 that sounded better than this. I know my Volvo had a 9 speaker 500 watt Premium sound system, so I was spoilt, but this just sounded awful. I enjoy listening to music when I drive, but this just made me want to turn it off.
If you are thinking of buying an S-Max, check for a spare tyre. Mine had the sealing fluid, which I didn't realise at the time.
So, if you want 7 seats and really don't care about what you drive, then this will probably be OK. If you have never had the pleasure of driving a Volvo or a BMW, then you will probably find it OK. What made owning this worse was having three Volvos that really were superb cars. The D5 I had before wasn't without its problems but it was very comfy, quick, quiet, economical, had a brilliant HiFi and had the practical boot divider for the dog and luggage. It was only when I had the S-Max that I realised how good this Volvo was.
The other disappointing thing was whenever it went back to Ford for warranty work, they would have it one day to find out what the problem so they could order the part. Then, I would have to go back to have it fitted. This was a main dealer. Why? When I used my local Volvo specialist, he could diagnose a fault, get the part from Volvo, and fit it all in the same day.
My advice - buy a Volvo V70, they even do 7 seaters. I have. If you can afford it, get the new phase 3 V70. It's awesome. And no, I don't work for Volvo !!
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No
Review Date: 26th March, 2013