If the MPV is being killed off by the rise in popularity of SUVs, then nobody’s told Ford. Following closely behind facelifted versions of the C-MAX and Grand C-MAX, plus the all-new S-MAX, this is thenew third generation Galaxy – the daddy of Ford’s MPV quartet.
In UK showrooms it’s the new S-MAX that’s expected to easily outstrip the new Galaxy, selling 8,000 versus 3,000 Galaxys, but there are distinct customers for both. Whereas the S-MAX is infused with a little sportiness and sacrifices some space to improve the handling and styling, the Galaxy is all about maximising interior room and functionality. As a result it’s a favourite with mini cab firms, and predicted sales are skewed 65/35 in favour of fleet over private buyers.
As a result, CO2 emissions are key and Ford has kept them impressively low across the board – ranging from 129g/km in the 118bhp 2.0 TDCI model to 180g/km in the 237bhp 2.0T EcoBoost. We drove the 178bhp 2.0 TDCI model that, in our opinion, strikes the best balance between load-hauling performance and fuel economy, returning 52.3mpg and 139g/km when fitted with the excellent dual-clutch PowerShift auto ‘box.
That improves to 56.5mpg and 129g/km (a difference of £34.36 a month in BIK to a higher-rate tax payer) if you stick with the manual gearbox, but we reckon it’s worth the £1,550 outlay for the extra layer of sophistication it brings.
Whatever your speed it’s a superb engine, pulling cleanly and smoothly through the gears with a surprising amount of punch when you floor the throttle. It’s the refinement that really shines through, though, so even long motorway journeys are whisper quiet.
Huge strides have been taken in improving the interior quality, with an uncluttered centre console built around an eight-inch touchscreen. There’s plenty of plastic around but it all feels rock solid, while your eye is drawn to the chunky brushed aluminium trim around the dials and gear lever. We’d recommend the full-length panoramic roof, which makes the interior feel half as big again, and leather seats that give the interior a properly premium feel.
The cabin is awash with technology, too including a digital display that fills the dials in the instrument cluster, a steering wheel covered in buttons and an impressive selection of safety systems including lane keep assist, traffic sign recognition and an auto parking function for parallel and perpendicular-shaped spaces.
The Galaxy’s real party piece though is the flexibility of its seating arrangement. Not only is the third row big enough for adults, the seats can we lowered flat into the floor and raised again electrically via a button in the boot. The second row is equally as clever, with the outer seats folding and tilting forward to allow easy access to the third row, all three seats sliding back and forth individually, and all three flopping forward automatically.
Actual boot space is as gargantuan as you’d expect – 300-litres with all seven seats in place, 1,301-litres with the third row down and 2,339-litres with just the front two seats in place – that’s compared to 285/965/2,020 respectively in the S-MAX.
Neat storage solutions are everywhere with an especially deep bin in the front armrest, picnic tables for the second row and handy cupholders for those at the very back. Two USB plugs, three 12V sockets and a three-pin plug should take care of a modern family’s power requirements, too.
The Galaxy’s silhouette is unavoidably boxy of course, but the new family face, complete with swept back headlights and skinny, horizontal fog lights looks smarter than any of its predecessors. Unlike the S-MAX there are no roof spoilers and body kits available, but our top-spec Titanium X test car benefitted from optional 19-inch wheels.
In corners there’s no hiding that the Galaxy is a big old bus and you can feel the high centre of gravity – especially with the panoramic roof fitted – tipping the body from side to side. However, drive it briskly rather than flat out and it does a good impression of the S-MAX with meaty steering that you can sense weighting up as a corner unfolds, while the suspension is supple enough to deal with potholes, but doesn’t feel too bouncy over lower frequency undulations.
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