EVERY once in a while a car is launched that so completely defines a sector that it becomes the only real choice.
This is true of Ford’s new Galaxy, a car so blessed with talents in all areas that it should be top of every driver’s choice list if they want an MPV.
In truth the Galaxy doesn’t bring anything new to the MPV party – rivals have been offering seven-seat accommodation with fold-flat seating for years now – but where the big Ford does leave its rivals standing is in performance, style and wholelife costs.
Let’s start with the performance. The 2.0-litre TDCi turbodiesel is the most powerful engine you can get in a Galaxy, offering 140bhp and 236lb-ft of torque.
There are huge dollops of grunt right down at the bottom of the rev range, so gaining speed in any gear is simply a matter of flooring the accelerator – no downchanges are required.
However, the downside is that all that torque does make the front wheels squirm when accelerating from a standstill.
It’s also quite a noisy engine, with a constant diesel chatter at all speeds.
The chassis shares its floor-plan with the next generation Mondeo due next year, and makes the Galaxy feel very un-MPV-like. Body roll is well contained and the steering is direct, making this feel more like a big estate car than a tall MPV.
The styling also deserves praise, continuing that edgy design language first laid down in the Iosis concept from last year’s Frankfurt Motor Show.
There’s no denying that the Galaxy is a big car, but the frontal styling does a good job of masking that bulk by making it look sleek and stylish.
Inside, things continue to impress, with a cool metal-look dashboard and centre console blending with high-quality plastics. Only a few brittle items, such as the storage console lid on top of the dash, look cheap.
There is ample room for seven adults, even though they may struggle to gain access to the rearmost seats. However, once in place there’s enough leg room for a comfortable journey.
Even with the rearmost seats in place there is space left for luggage, something other MPVs can’t claim to offer. With 435 litres of space, that’s enough for two large suitcases and represents a third more space than available in the previous generation Galaxy. Fold down the five rear seats and capacity grows to a van-like 2,325 litres.
‘Removing’ the seats is a simple affair – no need to unlock and store them outside the vehicle – just push or pull and they fold to create a flat floor. And the rearmost seats can all move fore and aft to increase legroom, while the seatbacks can recline for extra comfort.
And, of course, there are the usual array of handy storage compartments – 31 in total in the new Galaxy.
P11D value: £20,797
CO2 emissions (g/km): 172
BIK % of P11D in 2006: 24%
Graduated VED rate: £160
Insurance group: 11
Combined mpg: 43.5
CAP RV (3yr/60k): £7,275/35%
Monthly lease (3yr/60k): £423
We don't like
Three rivals to consider
WITH diesel engines of at least 130bhp and full seven-seat capacity, these cars provide a decent balance between family practicality and ease of use to live with as a daily driver. All models are in entry-level trim, with the Grandis undercutting the Galaxy by £1,200.
Emissions and tax rates
WITH its low front-end price and CO2 emissions, the Grandis offers the lowest benefit-in-kind tax bills. It will cost a 40% taxpayer £162 a month, compared with £166 for the Galaxy. The other two are more expensive – the Espace on £178 a month and the Voyager £199.
THE Mitsubishi loses ground here because the Grandis has 9,000-mile service intervals, with the Voyager and Espace on 12,000 miles and the Galaxy on 12,500 miles. This means an extra two scheduled services for the Grandis over a typical 60,000-mile fleet lifecycle.
Galaxy: 3.02 (ppm) £1,812 (60,000 mile total)
Espace: 3.75 £2,250
Voyager 4.62 £2,772
Grandis 5.56 £3,336
THE Galaxy is the most frugal, with Ford claiming it will return average economy of 43.5mpg, equating to a diesel bill of £6,200 over 60,000 miles. The Grandis is close behind on 43mpg. The Voyager’s 2.5-litre engine hurts fuel economy – it manages just 36.7mpg combined.
Galaxy: 10.44 (ppm) £6,264 (60,000 mile total)
Grandis: 10.56 £6,336
Espace: 11.24 £6,744
Voyager: 12.37 £7,422
THE Galaxy has the highest percentage RV, with CAP claiming it will retain 35% of its cost new, but its higher front-end price counts against it. The cheaper Grandis, on 34%, will cost a fleet 1ppm less than the Ford. The Voyager will retain 34% and the Espace a surprisingly low 27%.
Grandis: 21.37 (ppm) £12,822 (60,000 mile total)
Voyager: 21.41 £12,846
Galaxy: 22.37 £13,422
Espace: 24.37 £14,622
DESPITE coming third in depreciation, the Galaxy does enough on fuel and SMR costs to provide the best package. At 35.83ppm it will cost a fleet just under £21,500 to run over three years/60,000 miles. The Mitsubishi’s challenge is blunted by a high SMR bill.
Galaxy: 35.83 (ppm) £21,498 (60,000 mile total)
Grandis: 37.49 £22,494
Voyager: 38.40 £23,040
Espace: 39.36 £23,616
IN financial terms the Galaxy offers the lowest running costs and competitive benefit-in-kind tax bills. It’s also stylish inside and out, well-equipped and good to drive – suffering none of the compromises usually associated with an MPV such as woolly handling and a poor ride. It does everything so well that it is the easy winner here. The Grandis is more expensive to run, thanks to those high servicing costs, while the Chrysler and Renault are too far adfrit in wholelife cost terms to mount a serious challenge.