So Ford has decided to go it alone with developing and building its replacement, an entirely new vehicle architecture which is expected to retain the crown by achieving 10,000 sales annually.
While the new Galaxy has remained true to its heritage as a seven-seater MPV, that’s one of its few similarities to the old model. Thanks to an increase in overall size and an innovative folding seat system, plus more car-like driving dynamics and major technological advances, the Galaxy is now a far more pleasant vehicle to use.
Ford’s design team was charged with making a true seven-seat vehicle that offers a first-class travel experience, and the resultant product is certainly elegantly styled, quite luxurious and extremely practical.
The new Galaxy is the first model to follow Ford’s ‘kinetic’ design language, introduced in the Iosis concept car unveiled at the 2005 Frankfurt Motor Show.
Lowering the Galaxy’s height by 14mm has helped ease access slightly and offsets its 179mm increase in length and 60mm in width to create a more modern, sleeker stance.
And it is now equipped with the new Ford FoldFlatSystem (FFS), which is shared by its S-MAX sibling. The hassle of hauling out seats and having to find somewhere to store them, as drivers of the old Galaxy were required to do, has become history. FFS now enables any seat in the middle and rear row to be quickly transformed into a completely flat load area, simply by pulling a couple of straps.
Gaining access to the rear row is still an undignified business for adults, despite the wide doorway and the middle-row seats being equipped with a tip and slide system.
Nevertheless, all the rear seats offer a decent level of comfort, adjust for extra legroom and have a recline function.
Boot space with all seven seats up has increased to 435 litres with the rear seats in their forwardmost position, creating sufficient space for two full-size suitcases.
That is an increase of almost a third over the old model, and with all five rear seats flat maximum load capacity increases to 2,325 litres, on a load floor measuring two metres by 1.15 metres.
Up to 31 stowage compartments of various sizes are also built in, depending on specification, and our test car had the optional panorama roof and overhead console, which has five overhead lockers for personal items.
Another innovation in the Galaxy is Ford’s Human Machine Interface (HMI).
This uses simple steering wheel-mounted toggles and clear menus to view on-board computer data and access systems such as air-conditioning and in-car entertainment.
The Galaxy will be available from June 3 in three trim variants: LX, Zetec and Ghia.
Top-spec Ghia models accounted for 45% of outgoing Galaxy registrations and, not surprisingly, Ford executives want this to continue.
It is loaded with kit that will attract commuting executives, such as cruise control, automatic lighting and wipers, a full length overhead console and heated mirrors with puddle lights.
For extra luxury, the Ghia X-Pack adds leather interior and a panorama roof.
Zetec trim provides the value-for-money balance, with dual-zone air-conditioning and a mid-length overhead console, while LX will appeal to families trading up from a saloon or estate.
Ford has given Galaxy a very competitive entry price, at £19,495 for LX trim with either a 143bhp 2.0-litre petrol or 99bhp 1.8-litre turbodiesel and five-speed manual transmission.
Slightly bigger budgets will get two more turbodiesels to choose from; a 123bhp 1.8-litre with five or six-speed transmission, and a 138bhp 2.0-litre with a six-speed gearbox.
Behind the wheel
HAVING hopped straight across from Ford’s sportier S-MAX seven-seater, we were expecting to be slightly disappointed with the Galaxy’s driving experience.
The carmaker’s marketing heads had already primed us that MPV users aren’t interested in stylish looks or a decent drive – they simply want maximum space and practicality.
But we quickly discovered that the Galaxy is a fine vehicle in its own right, and a huge improvement on the old car. It is soft enough to always be comfortable yet hangs on confidently in bends that would have left owners of the outgoing car requiring therapy for post-traumatic stress.
Our test car, a 2.0-litre TDCi with six-speed ’box and Ghia X-Pack trim, had so much low-down torque it hung onto the coat-tails of a 2.5-litre S-MAX through the twisting Spanish A-roads of our test route and only got left behind when we reached the motorway.
It handles remarkably well, given its size. There is slightly more give in the suspension than the S-Max and the steering is slightly less direct as a result, but it is still enjoyable to drive. The interior is very similar to the S-MAX and is equally well laid out.
However, to reflect Galaxy’s orientation as a more sedate choice than its sibling, its driving position feels more like ships’ commander than jet pilot. The controls are identical to the S-MAX and are thoughtfully positioned, however the centre console is shorter and upright to allow better access between the front two seats for parents worried about the kids playing up in the back.
Buyers who specify the Ghia trim and optional X-Pack will certainly enjoy a luxurious experience. The leather interior both looks and feels good quality and the panorama roof floods the cabin with sunlight to create a very spacious, airy impression.
Finding storage will never be a problem for any passenger, although some of the stowage lockers in the overhead console felt a little flimsy, so we’d be reluctant to store particularly heavy items above the passengers’ heads.
THE Galaxy is competitively priced, provides excellent comfort and has space to spare. It deserves to be the family’s flagship. But now Ford has created its own fight with the cheaper S-MAX if owners are prepared to compromise slightly on storage.
|Model:||2.0 petrol||1.8 TDCi (125bhp)||2.0 TDCi (140bhp)||1.8 TDCi|
|Max power (bhp/rpm):||143/6,000||123/3,850||138/4,000||99/3,850|
|Max torque (lb ft/rpm):||140/4,500||236/1,750||236/1,750||206/1,800|
|Max speed (mph):||120||116||120||106|
|Fuel economy (mpg):||34.8||45.5||44.1||44.8|
|CO2 emissions (g/km):||194||164||169||166|
|On sale:||June 3.|