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The Grove Mumsnet Day

(33 Posts)
MNHubbie Sat 08-May-10 22:11:51

Firstly thank you so much to Mumsnet for picking my wife (MrsGokWan) and our family to go on the Ford day today.

The day was fantastic with wonderful friendly hosts and incredible food. Thank you to Ford for such generosity.

We were lucky enough to be able to test drive 3 cars today: The Ford Galaxy Titanium Diesel with the new automatic powershift; The Ford S-Max Zetec Diesel manual; and the Ford Titanium X S-Max Petrol with automatic powershift.

All the cars were brand new and had only been driven by the likes of Jeremy Clarkson the day before before our brood were set loose on them.

Our current car is a Renault Grand Espace which we absolutely adore. Whilst very long-term Ford fans we have always felt the Espace of the generation ours is to be the best people carrier on the market (far superior to the God-awful newer Espace). We have tried Galaxies before and frankly I've been utter unimpressed and felt that Ford really messed up for years... so despite being blown away by the day it was going to take a lot to impress us.

We were impressed.

Our first was our all-round favourite the Galaxy. Straight away the build quality was obvious and it made us think of the Volkswagen advert (the doors shutting sounded just like a Golf). We were a little precious about the kids jumping around in a brand new car and scuppering our day from the start but Ford didn't bat an eyelid and positively encouraged it. The seats brushed clean, the trim was solid and despite our kids best effort the car still looked brand new when we were finished (and we feel it still would even after a years driving).

Being a big kid my first question was about the toys. My iPod was plugged in and I selected a track from the steering wheel, my phone was Bluetooth bonded to the car and the Converse+ screen in front of me was giving me all the information I needed to set off.

In the middle section of dash we had the incredible DVD Navigation system. This gave both of us all the information we needed about the car, the radio, navigation, the iPod and so on.

So we were almost ready to set off I headed off to get our car seats but were told we could borrow theirs if we wanted. I wasn't fussed until they introduced us to the excellent Isofix system. Instead of the usual 5 to ten minute struggle to get the youngest one's seat in with the 5 point harness I managed to get it done in less than 10 seconds (before Dan the Ford guy, not that I was racing him or anything wink) despite never having seen the system before. I wish I'd noted the make of the car seats as they were brilliant, the youngest were very comfortable and we loved them. These things were hugely padded, had their own iPod hook ups (with speakers built into the headrest) and a really quick and easy way to whack the seat belt in (for our middle son). Our eldest used his booster seat and was stunned to see he had a normal seat belt rather than a lap belt.

The one thing we told each other in advance we'd be critical about despite how lovely everyone might be would be the space in the car. DW headed to the back of the car immediately whilst I played with the toys and the boys tried to destroy it in the middle. We're used to adjustable seats with multiple configurations that are all removable. What we found was something quite different but comparable. All the seats folded completely flat really quickly and easily negating the need to remove and store them.

The boot wasn't huge with the rear seats in place. We did have to remind ourselves though that we currently have the Grand Espace with the extended wheel base and that in comparison to any other people carrier what we were being greeted with was actually pretty darn big. The only other issue with the overall size was the height. DW is used to pretty much being able to stand in the car but had to hunch... for those of us who have to hunch all the time the difference wasn't so noticeable. With 7 people in the car you will have enough room in storage compartments and the boot to take all you need with you for a day out, to go shopping or to have a short break. With the seats down (and how easily they went down) we were pleasantly surprised just how big it was. The space wasn't just large but it was also sensible and regularly shaped so I do wonder if what we might lose in overall volume we might actually gain back in our increased ability to pack things in more sensibly. This is something we'd have to test whilst camping or similar.

The front seats were glorious. They were comfortable but firm, perfect for long journeys yet sporty enough to enjoy driving. The rear seats were spacious and equally comfortable and all were far more adjustable than we were used to. DW especially loved the height adjustment on the drivers seat. The rear seats weren't quite so nice for an adult but would be ideal for children in car seats.

I hit the Powerstart button and we headed off. I played with the toys a little more on the way out. I know Clarkson moans about the computer on many-a car but I doubt he'll have anything bad to say about the Ford system it is intuitive, intelligent and very user friendly. I picked up the use of it in seconds. As well as the big screen the Convers+ screen gives the driver a great scaled down version of all the features you need with an easy thumb control on the steering wheel.

The ride is incredibly smooth and reminded me more of the Mondeo that the Galaxy is based on. In standard automatic mode with normal pressure on the accelerator the gear-shifts are smooth and the car drives excellently however it isn't going to get you into trouble with the police. The drive is economical and the car almost seems to force you to conform to smooth acceleration and braking...

...until you put your foot down. The typical Ford automatic kickdown is still there with all the grin-inducing glee it has always brought but without the thump in the chest and surge you used to get...

...which is fine...

...and then you hear a little voice in your head say "if it does that with a little extra pressure what will it do if I shift the gearstick to the right and click into sport?" I did.


Now in standard mode you get trapped in the middle lane and have to pull out in a small gap and get up to speed without causing grief to the car behind and it does it brilliantly.

In the Sports mode you do the same and... it was a BMW coming up fast in the lane that we pulled out in front of and it was a mere black dot before we knew it. It was quick, REALLY quick. This is an automatic 2ltr diesel hauling 3 adults, 3 kids and quite a bit of bodywork and a rather large body and it performed like... well it was like a luxury car. The smoothness and power I've only ever felt in BMWs, SAABs or Mercs before.

One other lovely little thing it has is that the side mirrors have blind-spot indicators. A little orange dot appears in the corner of the mirror to indicate a car is along-side. It is brilliant. Not a replacement for a life-saver glance but a great extra.

Handling was fantastic. We've always loved the fact that the Espace handles like a car much smaller than it with only a tiny hint of the wallowing that we've felt hugely in other people carriers but this was another level. Once again I could have been fooled into thinking I was in a Mondeo.

I could go on and on about all the little features and I may in a future message but needless to say I didn't find them all until later.

We returned the car to Ford and I decided to test how easy it is to reverse. All I can say is I WANT A REAR CAMERA ON MY CAR NOW!!! Automatically the view behind appeared on the DVD Navigation screen along with projected images of the size of the car to tell me if I'd fit and sensors for any objects both off and on camera. It was fab!

All in all I've driven a fair few people carriers in my time and have tried several of the newer ones on the market and frankly none of them compare to this. The Galaxy is the people carrier to beat now.

I will review the 2 S-Maxs later.

DaftApeth Wed 09-Jun-10 15:44:39

I see there are some of the photos up from the day.

Not many though. Will anymore be posted? They are a little tricky to see too.

It looks as though ds is picking his nose in one of them blush

Anyone keo what is likely to be done with the film they shot?

MNHubbie Wed 12-May-10 19:22:31

DW would have liked more time to talk to MNetters too. We did feast just a tad. Ford named it a smash and grab... So I did!

That barrier was a good idea I forgot to mention. We also noted both had 12v sockets in the boot which is a fantastic idea for camping or boat trips and would make life so much easier for us if we had it for those.

I echo what you said about the Ford staff they genuinly cared about our experience and being able to ensure we got the most out of the day.

One other thing I've just remembered is that both seemed to have front heated windscreens as standard which would be awsome on frosty days.

WinkyWinkola Tue 11-May-10 23:49:43

Crikey. Some of you really put the cars through their paces!

We had a great day. A really fun time. And a lovely lunch - we feasted! - followed by purple and pink macaroons. Thank you Ford. I thought all the Ford folk were so welcoming, perceptive and concerned about our experience of the cars and the whole day. We were impressed. Thank you again.

We test drove an automatic SMAX Titanium. I really enjoyed driving it once I got used to the automatic stuff. So quiet. So smooth. DH and I were impressed. We felt there had been an awful lot of thought put into the cars.

However, the very back seats in the SMAX would be good either only for little children whose feet don't touch floor or very occasional use by adults on a short journey. The foot wells just aren't deep enough for proper comfort.

But boot space was great even with third row of seats up. Room for a buggy and a mid sized suitcase, I'd say. And obviously you could pile up stuff. Storage isn't an issue with either the Galaxy or the SMAX.

Sounds trite but as a Galaxy driver, the barrier in at the boot door is so useful for shopping that has shifted during a drive. No more wine bottles rolling out the bags!

And also can say that very back row of Galaxy is good for car seats. It's great for when you've got dcs friends to cart about too. I've have fitted middle row with three car seats too. You have to pull them around a bit to get seat belt in but that's ok.

I met some lovely mners too. Felt a bit shy to introduce myself to everyone. But those I chatted to were lovely.

thisisyesterday Mon 10-May-10 22:21:26

i asked the guy if the rear-seats were suitable for child seats and he didn't know!

i asked because i know some cars (inc the grand scenic) say that you shouldnb't use them for child seats because they'r ein the crumple zone

I also asked about the storage boxes and why they put them in as standard, preventing RF seats with a supporting leg to be used... again no answer.

Aside from that we had a lovely day. we tried the manual S-max and the Galaxy and were really impressed with both
I was amazed at how much room even the smax had across the back seat, although with 3 kids in car seats it would mean access to the very back row was virtually impossible, but that's not an issue for us as we do like a nice HUGE boot! and the boots on both cars were really massive when the rear row was down

the galaxy handled really well, quite smooth, although felt "hard" to me compared to our current car and to the S-Max
we used to have a renault scenic that felt like it would tip over if you cornered a little too fast.. the Galaxy didn't at all, it was like a rock.

I LOVED the "naughty mirror" as you've dubbed it, and the in-built window blinds.
DS1 was very taken by all the overhead storage in the Glaxy, as was I- perfect for him to put all his crap in that he insists on taking out with us! lol

I didn't get a chance to give a lot of feedback on the day as ds2 and ds3 ought to have been napping in the afternoon but weren't and were NOT happy bunnies at all

MNHubbie Mon 10-May-10 22:06:50

The very rear most ones? The camera man felt cramped until I pointed out to him that the seat could slide back. DW (when she had to get in there) found it pretty uncomfortable. It is a shame that they don't have isofix as they are really most suitable for children in car seats. That is one way the Espace wins out unfortunately as all the seats are full seats. That said we cope without isofix now and it would be interesting to see how we'd cope long term with extra adults or kids in the car and popping the youngest two in the very back etc.

MrsWeasley Mon 10-May-10 22:00:36

Two of my DCs said they found the rear seats uncomfortable on their backs. They are both very skinny and this could be the reason. my other DC said they were fine but they "have a little bit more meat on them".

MNHubbie Mon 10-May-10 20:10:17

We also thought it was a little narrower than the Espace until we went to connect up our smaller car seats in the Espace to go home and realized how much easier it had been in the Galaxy.

MNHubbie Mon 10-May-10 19:48:29

We managed to fit 2 isofixes and a full sized booster (bottom off a full sized seat) across the middle seats with ease. I didn't try the top speed setter but would if I was using it every day.

Yes the double clutch was very nice!

The engine and road noise didn't register with us at first due to its absence but once we got back in the Espace we really realised how good it had been!

weblette Mon 10-May-10 13:00:33

Oh another few things I remembered...

We were really impressed with how quiet the diesel was. Tanking along the motorway we turned the iPod down and there was v little engine/road noise.

Naughty mirror - liked, handbrake - didn't like. I've an electric handbrake on my current car, I would prefer that option. Also liked the push button start, again similar to what I have now.

Didn't use the speed setting function - the licence saver as Adam called it - but could definitely see the advantages, especially given how many sets of roadworks are around at the moment.

DaftApeth Mon 10-May-10 11:56:07


Thankyou Pol. I'm not sure that 3 car seats would be necessary that often for us as I guess we could just pop someone in the rear seat.

Good to know that the Galaxy is knuckle friendly - my car isn't!

My two dcs were desperate to sit in the rear seats for the test drive but because dd used one of Ford's isofix seats, she had to sit in the middle row (the rear seat do not have isofix points). So I then made ds sit in the same row to try to keep the peace grin

They had the middle seat folded down between them and then wanted some refreshments so they could use it as a picnic table hmm

Poledra Mon 10-May-10 11:37:24

I knew it, I knew it!! I should have avoided this thread because I now want all the gadgets MrGokWan is describing in my Galaxy envy

BTW, I can fit two high-back boosters and a Group 1 child seat in the middle row of my (2007) Galaxy no problem. And did have a high-back booster, Group 1 and an infant carrier in there before (and could take the infant carrier in and out without losing all the skin on my knuckles).

DaftApeth Mon 10-May-10 11:30:53

Did anyone try fitting 3 car seats along the middle row of either car?

weblette Mon 10-May-10 10:12:30

We had a fab day, the kids really enjoyed the whole experience, especially dd who now has an NBF

Thanks Ford for the hospitality!

As for the car, we went for a Galaxy. Our current car is a 2006 Grand Scenic – it’s already bigger than the S-Max. With four likely-to-be-lanky kids, the priority for us is a car which will be comfortable in the very back row on long runs.

We took out the 2.0 TDCi Titanium, the 163 PS option. It was an auto with the new Powershift transmission. I'll be honest, I haven't driven an auto for years so was a little apprehensive. Initial impressions were very positive.

Our advantage was that living just 20 mins from the Grove, I was able to drive home on the test drive so could put it through its paces on the roads I know best. So we did plenty of motorway with some A road and country lanes too. And for good measure I reversed into the drive at home - MNHubbie, know exactly what you mean about the rear camera!

It coped well with everything I threw at it, I could really appreciate the dual clutch - the changes were pretty much seamless. Engine was very responsive, plenty of oomph when overtaking. Handling was excellent, especially on the narrow twisty lanes near home.

As for the cabin, the kids were in heaven! They loved the space and the array of hatches on the central roof console, although I'm not sure we would necessarily use them. Tech wise we had the DVD navigation option with the Convers+ display. I remembered my iPod so the kids could bop away to their playlist thanks to the connector in the glove box.

We also gave the audio system a bit of a blast – very good quality and the speakers at the very back were very much appreciated .

Where the Galaxy really impressed me was the flexibility of the seating. I've always had the impression that the Galaxy was a bit of a bus, certainly the old styling with removable seats always appeared that way. We don't have a garage so taking seats out just isn't an option.

I got the back when we were parked up and the rear seats did seem comfortably big enough for adults for a long journey – adequate legroom for a 5’8er like me. Also a decent bit of boot space with both seats in position.

My only reservation was the size of the blind spot - it would take some getting used to. With the sun blinds up it was slightly unnerving and a little difficult to check the driver's side. If I were to buy one, the new blind spot sensor offered by Ford would be a definite consideration.

DaftApeth Mon 10-May-10 08:15:40

Ha ha, yes with the 'naughty mirror', we really could have eyes in the back of our heads.

I tell my dcs that I can see everything because it is pretty easy to predict what they are up to, even if they are not in view wink and they seem to believe me grin

Was anything said about one of us having a chance to have a car for a longer trial period? Or did they change their minds after seeing our driving and our -little-- angels- children? grin

MNHubbie Sun 09-May-10 23:40:49

"Naughty Mirror" Love that!! Perfectly suited to our trip with the camera man! Pretty sure it was all unusable because of the kids being over excited.

MrsWeasley Sun 09-May-10 23:07:47

We loved the hand brake and the "naughty mirror" as my children called it.
But the absolutely best bit for my DH who is our driver was the ...................................................... ARM REST! Ha Ha

He never uses the arm rest but found in the Galaxy it was in direct alignment with the gear stick and he now wants one just because of the arm rest but thats ok because I want one just because of the heated seats! grin

Fantastic day, Thanks MN I love you. wink

Dan and Oliver were fantasic as was Adam who knew all about the cars and didn't make me feel stupid for asking what the shiny silver thing was (the Hand brake!)wink

MNHubbie Sun 09-May-10 22:54:03

The one we were in...

MNHubbie Sun 09-May-10 22:53:43

Yup but the galaxy was diesel.

DaftApeth Sun 09-May-10 22:06:53

The Ecoboost was petrol. They checked under the bonnet because no-one was sure grin

MNHubbie Sun 09-May-10 21:07:19

We found it a little lower tbh as the Renault is quite tall but we liked that.

We found the whoosh great compared to the Renault but it is pretty rubbish that way compared to other cars.

It was a diesel too so if you've come from a good performing petrol car that would probably be noticeable too.

DaftApeth Sun 09-May-10 19:38:35

We took out the automatic. That was probably the difference between it and my car - my car responds straight away, without having to push your foot down but when I do really push my foot down in mine, it really whooshes (as my dcs call it!) and then you can almost see the petrol gauge move!

It had the solid feel of an expensive car, which I liked.

The dcs liked the height and extra visibility.

MNHubbie Sun 09-May-10 19:14:59

Were you in the auto or manual? I found the auto sluggish until I wanted it to shift and thought it was a deliberate act on their part to stop you from uneco-friendly driving and having that surge-slump thing you get with a lot of autos but that when I really put my foot down...

DaftApeth Sun 09-May-10 18:33:51

We did the short trial route hoping to get back from driving the Galaxy and have a chance to try the S-Max but they were none free.

It was you in it was it? angrygrin

Didn't find the Galaxy as responsive as my car but that might just be because I am more familiar with my own rust bucket car and so put my foot down more.

I hear the S-Max feels more sporty to drive.

MNHubbie Sun 09-May-10 18:22:02

We did a run with the Galaxy and when we got back asked more questions about the S-Max and got told if we were back by 1 we could go out in it. Then after lunch we were going to go for a walk and saw the Titanium X sat there looking lonely and just asked if we could go out in it.

I have to confess the brochure has helped with all the trademark names of the bits and bobs.

DaftApeth Sun 09-May-10 17:40:55

Blimey! Did you take notes?!!

We only drove one car. How did you manage so many?

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