Garage forecourts throughout Britain are overflowing with fantastic value new family cars which are perfect for the summer holidays. One such motoring marvel is the Ford S-Max. This unassuming multi-purpose vehicle is distinguishable from its rivals as it focuses more heavily on driver satisfaction. The S-Max therefore has confidence inspiring traction, smooth responsive steering, and very little body-roll considering its class.
The S-Max is available with a wide range of engines. However, drivers who crave copious amounts of power for the school run will be most attracted to the 2.5-litre petrol. This unit produces 216bhp and propels the S-Max to 60mph in 7.4 seconds. Top speed is 143mph which is extraordinary for a seven-seater with a boot the size of Wales. Families who favour economy over speed may prefer the 123bhp 1.8-litre diesel. This frugal model hits 60mph in 11 seconds and returns an impressive penny-pinching combined average of 45mpg.
Motorists who like lugging the kids around in a traditional estate may fall for the stoic charms of the Volkswagen Passat. This Germanic hold-all is one of the most robustly constructed vehicles on the market so it should last long enough to become a family heirloom. The best engine choice for balancing performance and economy is the 2.0-litre 137bhp diesel. This returns a combined average of 49.6mpg and accelerates to 62mph in a respectable 10.1 seconds. This complements the Passat's family focused safety features which in 2005 earned it the maximum five Euro NCAP safety stars.
Motoring.co.uk's new car database lists the Ford S-Max with 'buy safe' sellers from £17,550. The finance section reveals the Volkswagen Passat estate is available on a personal contract purchase plan for a £5,729 deposit plus thirty-six payments of £289 at 4.7% APR.