The New Ford Galaxy is larger than its predecessor, which was a shared design with Volkswagen’s Sharan. With the smaller S-MAX taking up the compact MPV side of the market, Ford was able to expand the Galaxy in every dimension without losing sales in size-conscious Europe.
The exterior styling is now markedly different, and that was an essential improvement, because the last examples of the current model were beginning to look painfully familiar. There are extensive at the front, side and rear, and the new models look very smart
Big differences, of course, inside too. The panel fit is top class, the fascia design and finish are an object lesson to other manufacturers, there are trays, boxes and cubbyholes everywhere, and each of the three rows of seats has its own fresh air vents in the roof.
A seven-seat layout is standard, but six captain’s seats with arm rests are an option. With two seats in the middle row instead of three, there’s much more elbow room on the outside, because the individual seats are moved closer to the centre line.
Controls include a steering wheel with metal-finish spokes, a metal face to the instrument panel, and a dinky little oval analogue clock mounted in the centre of the fascia, almost right up against the windscreen. It doesn’t rate quite as high in the cuteness stakes as the clock in the Ka, but it’s close.
One particularly neat interior touch in this car was that, instead of coat hooks above the doors, it had chrome coat hangers on the backs of the front seats. Great improvement. And while luggage space with the rear seats upright is nothing special, there’s a suspended net there to keep loose items from being annoyingly loose and sliding around all over the floor.
Trying a V6 Ghia with the standard six-speed manual box was quite an experience. This is a very superior MPV indeed. It uses VW’s ultra-narrow angle 2.8-litre VR6 engine, now giving just over 200bhp, and it is a seriously strong performer. Acceleration is very brisk for the class, and the thought of power tailing off obviously never impinged on the engine design team’s consciousness.
Handling is still class-leading. With its long wheelbase, a full-size MPV usually offers a high standard of ride. And the feature at which all aerodynamicists nod with approval - the front end with no abrupt "hinge" between bonnet and screen - continues to help the stability on a fast motorway run.