Galaxy Stars - and Puts a Twinkle in your Eye

When I read that 60 per cent of all the large MPVs sold in Britain are models from the Ford Galaxy range I realised that here was a car that had not journeyed through my life since the 2006 launch of the current model shape.

That, of course, was a major error on my part so I did something about putting it right, although not in the way you, and I, might expect.

The vast majority of Galaxy models on British roads are diesels and that's understandable because many owners have their sights firmly set on keeping a lid on the family budget.

However, the Galaxy's sister model, the S-MAX, has a deserved reputation for majoring on driver enjoyment as much as it does on carrying seven people or stacks of luggage with five passengers.

I wondered if any of the S-MAX sporting DNA had found its way into the Galaxy and there's only one way to find out, by borrowing a Galaxy fitted with a lusty petrol engine.

There's more than a passing nod to fuel economy - the EcoBoost engine may produce 203 bhp but it also knows how to go easy on fuel, too.

When you bear in mind that this high profile people carrier can seat seven and offers up to 2,325 litres of loadspace, you also have to be impressed by the news that it has a top speed of135 mph (where legal, naturally) and a 0-60 mph time of 8.5 seconds, figures that wouldn't disgrace a model calling itself a sports saloon rather than a family holdall.

But even more impressive is that we managed slightly more than 30 mpg during a test drive of several hundred miles, and it could hardly be termed an economy stroll aimed at getting the best figures.

Driving down main roads, with a bit of motorway, fast dual carriageway, and back routes across the north west of Dartmoor would prove a test for any car. That this people carrier could do so with gusto and aplomb, never once feeling nervous or unsettled when ultimate demands were made of its handling, speaks volumes for the development of desirable driving characteristics into the whole of the modern Ford car range.

Many Galaxy sales are made to chauffeur companies needing to make the right impression on clients. Access front and rear has to be easy, big space for passenger knee room is a given, and the car has to be pleasant to ride in. In the big Ford, all these are a given.

The engine always feels gutsy and the Powershift transmission allows seamless changes between ratios on what is essentially a manual gearbox where clever electronics do all the legwork in operating the clutch and eliminating the need for the third pedal.

What is also appealing about the Galaxy, as in the S-MAX, is that on occasions when you want to carry loads you don't have to take the seats out and leave them behind. That means that once the car is empty the seats just rise up out of the floor to be used on the return journey. It's a neat and thoroughly sensible solution to a problem that still dogs many MPVs with heavy seats that have to be carted into storage all too often if full use is to be made of the luggage volume.

So in a market sector where there's not exactly a galaxy of stars when it comes to vehicles that shine, Ford's Galaxy is ready to put a twinkle in your eye.