ON THE face of it, building a large MPV ought to be easy. After all, isn’t something like this just a big box on wheels? It always used to be.
Not so long ago, all you really needed with a car like this was a set of fancy flippy-folding seats and a few clever interior storage solutions. That and the ability for the model in question not to fall over when presented with a corner.
These days, things are a lot tougher for those brands looking to create a design of this kind. Buyers are more demanding. They want the interior build quality of a luxury saloon. They want exciting styling. And the last thing they’re looking for is the kind of handling you’d expect from a big box on wheels. The game has changed. Ford has endowed the Galaxy with a very S-MAX-style front end, so you get that car’s Aston Martin-style front grille, along with plenty of shape in the flanks to avoid that slab-sided look that makes so many large MPVs look like panel vans with windows.
The old MK3 model wasn’t a bad looking thing, but Ford has clearly decided to give the shape a little extra edge. As with previous Galaxy models, you don’t get sliding side doors, but then that helps keep the side profile clean.
The interior takes a step up in terms of perceived quality, with Ford offering a big 10-inch digital display and the excellent Sync2 infotainment system. There’s certainly no shortage of space inside, with 40mm more headroom in the third row.
A lot of thought has clearly gone into making the third row of seats something other than the most obvious short straw and they now get their own armrest storage and cup holders.
You won’t have to wrestle the seats up and down either. They can be raised from the boot floor at the touch of a button and both second and third rows can also be dropped flat from the front by using a consolemounted button. From launch, Ford is offering this car with a 2.0-litre TDCi diesel engine in various forms. At the top of the range, there’s twin-turbo 210PS putting out a lusty 450Nm of torque, but most versions of this car will be sold in single-turbo form where there are more modest outputs of 120, 150 and 180PS on offer.
There’s also the option of the brand’s ‘Intelligent All-Wheel Drive’ system - which will be a welcome boon for towers who in this form can pull up to 2,000kgs.
Petrol options include Ford’s 160PS 1.5-litre EcoBoost engine and a 2.0-litre EcoBoost petrol unit offering 240PS.
Self-levelling rear suspension is also available, while the optional ‘Continuous Control Damping System’ delivers a choice between Comfort, Normal or Sport driving modes.
This model’s always been one of the very strongest contenders in the large MPV segment and early signs here suggest that this MK4 version still is.
All of the key areas for improvement that were identified with the previous version seem to have been given a good ticking, with a sharper look, better interior quality, slicker technological integration and a richer array of hightech safety features.
All of these things are present and correct.
Building a big MPV is all about managing compromises without taking your eye off the prime consideration, that of safe and spacious family transportation. Ford has, down the years, been a bit cleverer at figuring out those compromises than most of its rivals.
In short, the Galaxy looks as if it’s setting a very high bar.