Ford will offer a glimpse of the next S-Max at the Frankfurt Show.
In the absence of any all-new product, it will be the centrepiece of the company’s stand.
The second-generation S-Max will share architecture, powertrains and technologies with the new Mondeo and be built alongside it at Valencia. It is expected to go on sale in 2015, along with a replacement for Ford’s other big seven-seater, the Galaxy.
The current car, which has been available since 2006, has been a huge success for Ford, helping to recover some of the sales lost by the Mondeo to other brands and different styles of car. Ford has racked up 372,000 S-Max sales in Europe – with almost one in five of them in the UK.
The car at Frankfurt is officially a concept, but the exterior is expected to be replicated by the production model in all but detail. It is slightly longer and lower than the current car and appears to be quite a lot wider.
Ford’s European vice-president in charge of product development, Barb Samardzich, says it responds to customer demands for a sportier-looking car with no loss of space and greater levels of connectivity.
Its innovative ideas include seats which monitor the occupant’s heart rate and glucose levels and which can trigger the car’s active safety systems in case of an emergency. “We may one day introduce them,” she said.
The S-Max concept has full in-car wi-fi services for passengers and a tablet docking station in the second row, and supports the voice-activated link to smartphone apps which Ford has been introducing on production cars.
Car-to-car communication to avoid potential collisions with other vehicles and automatic braking to prevent low-speed accidents with pedestrians are also included.
The ‘five-plus-two’ interior has a new seat-folding arrangement. The centre middle seats disappear into the floor to improve access to the rear, while the ultra-slender occasional rear seats store differently to those in the current car. Insiders hint that they may not be in the production version, though.
The front of the exterior is dominated by Ford’s new Aston Martin-esque grille and long, slender light units. There is lots of metal garnish and a front-to-rear glass panel in the roof, though it’s possible this may not be available on showroom cars.
The concept’s neat and uncluttered interior is characterised by high-quality materials, including Nubuck leather-and-carbon fibre seats which are also unlikely to make it to production.