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Ford S-Max concept (2013) at Frankfurt motor show

Wed, 28 Aug 2013

This is new Ford S-Max MPV, in thinly veiled concept car form. In all but the spangliest details though, this is Ford’s sporty new MPV, ushering in a host of on-board tech features, and a new 1.5-litre Ecoboost petrol engine.

The show car’s party pieces are health-monitoring gadgets, recording data like heart rates and glucose levels. There’s also on-board wi-fi and tablet device docking, plus voice control for your smartphone’s apps, like music streaming service Spotify.

The new Ford S-Max looks like a Fiesta on enormous wheels, no?

With the swept-back headlights, raked windscreen and the Aston Martin-alike grille all present, there’s a lot of facelifted Fiesta resemblance in the new S-Max, which wears the latest interpretation of Ford’s ‘Kinetic’ design. As with the current S-Max, the silhouette is sleeker than a regular one-box MPV, though Ford claims the new car will be just as commodious: the concept offers anything from four- to seven-seat configurations.

Perhaps the key design change from the outgoing S-max is the loss of those characteristic side gill vents. Instead, the vent has morphed into a more subtle side repeater feature.

Of course, concept car poetic license means this car, headed for the Frankfurt motor show in September 2013, does without door handles, thick pillars, and bulky door mirrors. Still, details aside, this is mostly how the new S-Max will look when it goes on sale in 2015.

But surely the most important bit of an MPV is its cabin?

Then the new S-Max looks to be off to a flier. While the deluxe leather and carbonfibre detailing won’t feature in the showroom models, the simplified switchgear and move to a more prominent central screen is a welcome change from the rather busy fascias in current Fords. The seats have a slimline design to liberate more interior space and save weight.

Spotted that gear selector? Ford might no longer own Jaguar, but Jaguar influence is certainly is on show here, in the form of that rotary gearbox controller, and the dual-view centre console display, which transmits different pictures to driver and passenger simultaneously.

Plus, there’s a tablet docking system, which doubles as the rear-passenger entertainment screen system. All devices are interconnected via Ford’s Sync wireless service.

And it’s an ambulance too?

Sort of. Ford has included a driver’s seat that can monitor the occupant’s heart rate, and record data which can be sent to hospitals via Ford Sync in the event of an medical emergency. The same interface handles the glucose monitor, which warns the driver if a child in the car’s back seats is suffering a diabetic attack. Still no gadget to make the little blighters actually behave, though…

Any other tech highlights?

The S-Max concept is the latest car to boast ‘car-to-car communications’, which manufacturers suggest will allow cars of the future to share information regarding congestion, accidents, and weather. We’re promised intelligent cars could ease traffic flow thanks to automatic rerouting, and increase safety. It’s an appealing idea, as long as the communication network is standardised between all carmakers.

The S-Max concept will also parallel park itself, and brake automatically if it senses jay-walking pedestrians.

And there’s a new engine?

Yes, a 1.5-litre four-pot developed from the existing 1.6-litre Ecoboost motor. The smaller 1.5-litre unit will boast superior economy figures, like-for-like power outputs, and in due course entirely replace the 1.6-litre engine.

When will we see a production-ready S-Max?

Although the S-Max is getting the Frankfurt show limelight, it’s the new Mondeo that’s next in the pipeline: the new rep favourite will go on sale in late 2014, including a debut for that new 1.5-litre engine. The new Ford S-Max will reach dealers in early 2015.

By Ollie Kew