First Drive: Ford Galaxy
Sector: Large MPV Price: £26,445–£36,760 Fuel: 35.7–56.5mpg CO2: 129–180g/km
Ford once likened the Galaxy to first class air travel – an ironic comparison for a car beloved of airport transfer fleets. But, with space to relax in comfort, a cabin geared towards passengers rather than the driver and a multitude of high-tech options, you can see the link.
Of course, this is a small sector now. C-segment MPVs now offer the interior modularity and occasional seven-seat abilities that were once the preserve of larger MPVs, and the Galaxy’s share has been eroded by the S-Max. Almost as versatile, but more stylish and better to drive, Ford judged that segment so well in 2007 that its 8,000 annual sales outstrip the Galaxy more than two-fold.
However, there’s still a market for highly functional large MPVs, and the Galaxy has relatively few rivals now that the PSA-Fiat efforts are no longer and Renault has pulled out of this sector in the UK. Ironically, Ford’s biggest rivals are the Volkswagen Group models with which this once shared a platform, and the Galaxy puts up a good fight.
The platform is based on the Mondeo’s, the car itself being slightly shorter overall but with most of that length taken by the cabin. There are seven full-size seats inside with the usual ability to slide the middle row individually or fold all except the front seats flat. In the Galaxy, the latter is possible via a panel inside the tailgate, which is a neat touch.
Ride quality, even on large wheels, is excellent and the seats are very comfortable with plenty of visibility from all sides. It rolls more than an S-Max, but doesn’t feel van-like on country roads and the steering weight adds confidence too. Extra sound deadening material and acoustic glass mean there’s little wind noise, and the diesel engines are barely audible.
Reflecting a different customer base, almost half of UK cars will get a PowerShift gearbox, and it suits the Galaxy perfectly. It’s quick to respond when pulling away from a standstill and fetches lower gears swiftly and smoothly on the move, which makes this an effortless long-distance car for all on board.
Its USPs compared to the S-Max are mostly behind the middle row. Third-row occupants get 38mm more headroom, 101mm more hip room and 151mm more legroom, so adults can get comfortable, and the middle row tips further forward for easier access. Load volume is identical with the tonneau cover in place, but significantly larger when the car is stacked to its roofline and wider between the wheelarches too.
However, as a purebred load-hauler, the Galaxy does without a couple of useful features. The passenger seat doesn’t fold, so load length is capped at 2.06 metres, and a storage compartment for the tonneau cover would have been useful too. Both are almost default options for smaller MPVs.
That said, there are few vehicles which offer the modularity, comfort and interior space of the Galaxy without starting life as a van. It’s short on rivals, but Ford’s biggest passenger car is still a first-class people mover.
Already a backbone of business travel in the UK, the Galaxy is perfectly tailored to a segment defined by practicality and comfort, and hard to beat.