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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.

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