In the 2 months, I've had the pleasure, no wait, the honour of driving the most magnificent car I have ever had the chance to get my greasy hands on! Due to work commitments and the company being the fantastic guys they are, myself and a few co-workers have had the opportunity to drive the new Ford Galaxy Zetec Diesel up and down the country and basically use it at our own disposal (for company related reasons I mean). Now I get to drive a lot of new cars around the place and nothing really makes much of an impression as much as this new Galaxy has on me, so I thought it was due a review.
I've previously reviewed my own bought Ford Focus 2003 Zetec Diesel which I thought was an outstanding car and Ford really hit the nail on the head with those generation of cars. However having done my research after driving the Galaxy, I've noticed that I've failed to realise the obvious fact that Ford have not only hit the nail, but put up a whole shelf in the last 10 years since my Focus was developed! The Galaxy I'd say is a fantastic representation of their efforts!
---History of the Galaxy---
Now if you're stuck in the past like myself, you'd be thinking of the old Mk1 Galaxy made between '95 and 2000 as well as the slight facelift added to the 2000 - 2006 Galaxy, nothing to eye catching and basically looks like an outstretched Focus, ugly. In fact the Mk1 was voted by Top Gear as the least satisfying car in the UK and Coronation Street used it as a murder accessory and drove it into a canal! The 2000 onwards model seemed to redeem itself with better engines and overall the interior was far more "classy" with all 3 variants (LX, Zetec and Ghia) being able to tickle the pickle.
The Mk3 which I am reviewing really seemed in a new league, creating a car previously seen as something my mum would struggle with due to having made some terrible life decisions with my dad to something myself as a young hip cool adult will consider purchasing as a run around!
As I keep mentioning for some odd reason I am seriously attracted to this car, it seems to me like someone got a bulldog and gave it a makeover producing a Katy Perry/Rihanna/Tyler Swift love child! It's stunning. Ford has really done something special with the 'Ford Kinetic Design' features they include in all their post 2008 cars. The cars look slick, fast and stylish; the headlights look like a teenage girl has gone nuts with a mascara brush and created a new grace! This is ever so vibrant on the Galaxy MPV as it's naturally a large vehicle; all the features are exaggerated and look fantastic! This is only talking about the Zetec, also known as the bog standard, as far as I can gather Ford now do Zetec and Titanium with Titanium X being the most spec'ed out as standard (not including additional extras).
The Titanium models are around £4,000 more expensive with standard features. However the exterior styling is minor and yet vivid enough to tell any passer-by that you're driving something slightly more special than the chump in the Galaxy Zetec. If you're after smashing out £25,000 for a new Galaxy, I'd get the penny jar out and upgrade to the Titanium simply for the "street cred" when you pull up to pick up your kid from school or stop outside the company headquarters.
Only ever seeing the interior of a Zetec Galaxy I can safely assume that anything costing more will be better. The MPV I drove was simply standard and contained no additional purchase extras, and yet I was still impressed by, well, how much it impressed me. As you get into the car you feel instantly comfortable with the soft fabric seats designed from some space age technology to put any worries you have in the world at ease, and with the numerous seat adjustments you can do, you can get into the perfect position, and you don't have to worry about crushing the rear passenger, they've got miles of leg room!
The most eye catching feature of the interior from the drivers view is by the obscure looking handbrake. First seeing it, I thought it was some space age leaver, and took me a few seconds to work out that it descended into the "floor" to release the brakes. It seems with this and a few other features it's trying to fool you into becoming a pilot.
The steering wheel itself is made of a soft leather style material and is quite small with the Ford logo in the centre with the horn as standard, and numerous controls on the sides for stereo controls and controls for the dashboard computer (I'll go through later). The stem controls are as usual for the indicators, window wiper/washer and Hands Free Controls for your compatible mobile. The lights are Ford typical on the right side via a dial.
The heaters are something special, this being quite a cold few months for us in the UK, a good car air conditioning system is something to praise! The Galaxy one allows you to quickly demist your Windows by setting it to crazy heat and adjust it by temperature so you will be at a constant temperature and it feels great knowing you're all sung in your Galaxy and the guy next to you is probably fighting with his too hot/cold settings.
The Stereo (6000 Stereo CD/radio) is just an updated standard Ford, it looks all complicated until you realise it's just buttons for radio presents, either way it works well with the speakers providing a good output and the radio is able to get signal in about 80% of where I went (where my car struggled). You are able to upgrade to a Sony DAB audio system which has USB compatibility for £350 at the dealership though when ordering your Galaxy.
Overall the Drivers interior is quite lush, as you get into it you can't help but notice the many things which are missing from the car which you could have had if your wallet was deeper. I suggest if you can dig deep the few little extras might be worth it, such as the Adaptive Cruise Control, Automatic Window Wipers and Headlights, Panoramic Roof, Blind Spot Assist, Touch Screen Sat Nav, Rear Passenger LCD TVs, and these are to mention a few extras you get include.
---On Board Computer---
I briefly mentioned the on board computer which falls into the many automatic features included in the Zetec. The little screen between the Rev Counter and the Speedo allows you to browse through some maintenance of the car, as well as switch on Eco Driving, basically it allows you switch of the engine when the car is at a standstill and the clutch is released (in neutral gear), supposable saving a fair bit of fuel during traffic jams, its included in like 90% of all new cars since about 2010 but still quite amazing.
Parking Sensors, detect if you're getting to close to a solid object via beeping. With such a large vehicle, it could be very helpful for parking and tight manoeuvring. It sure was for me getting used to such large vehicle after driving a car.
The Bluetooth Hand Free is also a nice feature allowing you to use your phone and drive. Upon entering the car you can connect to your car through your phone as you would with to a headset and when it rings the car will let you know. If your phone allows it, you can connect automatically each time you enter.
The computer as accessible via the controls on the steering allows you to browse information about the vehicle like fluid levels and how its performing and its fuel and how many miles you've got left.
Now this has to be my favourite part of the car. Being the passenger in the Galaxy is luxury, you feel like you're in First Class. The Galaxy has the capacity to seat up to 7 people with 5 people in the car it can be very luxurious for everyone around (not too much for the driver). The middle seats (next to the rear doors) can seat 3 people, the seats all move back and forth and adjust the back allowing you to get into a perfect sleeping position.
For dining options, there are airplane style fold down tables with cup holders allowing your kids to enjoy the McDonalds in comfort.
There is a fantastic amount of leg room for the middle passengers, allowing you to stretch out and relax; even the tallest person can sit in comfort.
I can't really say the same for the back most passengers in the rear, having fixed seats which are still comfortable, lack the luxuries of the middle, but still gives you a reasonable amount of leg room, although the seats where designed to be folded away with as much ease as possible.
This is a massive vehicle when it's not loaded up with 7 people the rear seats can be folded down revealing a massive storage area in the rear for shopping and animals if necessary, I would imagine a small bike will get in easy. If further space is required the middle seats fold down.
There are also cool little bits and bobs around the cabin which allow you to store items with a massive compartment to the left of the driver and door compartments as well as a nifty little sunglasses holder on the roof.
The MPV comes in both petrol and diesel. The petrol has can be bought with a 1.6 litre EcoBoost and the 2.0 Litre EcoBoost both with Stop/Start technology. Although the 1.6 Litre has been criticised for being slighting to slow for such as large vehicle.
The majority of the engines within the Galaxy range from 1.8 litres up to 2.3 litre Duratorq TDCi Engines with a 2.0 litre Flex-Fuel Duratorq available, allowing you to run on alternative fuels.
With the many engines available, I was stuck with the 1.8 Litre Duratorq, with this said, I was surprised how much power could be produced with the vehicle able to do a wheel spin from start and pull away at rapid rates, with seconds between gear changes on the motorway. This was fully laden with 5 passengers and bags in the rear.
We did a lot of motorway driving and the 1.8 Litre Duratorq was quiet and responsive allowing me to speed up and slow down with little effort and cruising with the additional economy gear (6th), it consumed very little diesel on our journeys requiring few fill ups. It's advertised at: 49.5 mph (combined) and average CO2 emissions of 152 g/km, seems quite good for such a large vehicle!
Under the bonnet was quite simple and nothing looked confusing and was all clearly labelled allowing you to undertake basic maintenance if required in the future, as with a brand new vehicle anything goes wrong, take it back to them and cry!
As mentioned above, for a large MPV the Galaxy outputs and outstanding 49.5 mpg (combined), probably smashing out over 60 mpg on Motorways if not more if driven slowly and carefully.
The vehicle is outputs 152 g/km of CO2, this means the tax will be at £170.00 per year. For a large vehicle like this, it seems reasonable considering past Galaxy MPVs will be paying in excess of £215.00 with today's rates.
This being a brand new vehicle, if purchased from a decent Ford Dealer, will come with a good bit of warranty and maintenance plan which is worth investing in if you plan to keep your warranty. I'm sure upon purchasing a £25,000 vehicle; they will cut you a deal for a Servicing/Maintenance plan.
The Duratorq engines are known to be very reliable and easy to repair with quick access to major components within the engine. I know this due to having an old Duratorq within my Focus and my local garage is always happy to take mine in for repairs due to Ford strategically locating their components.
Although I have had the honour of driving the Ford Galaxy Zetec for a few weeks, driving it on a regular basis and messing with every single gadget in the arsenal really allows you to figure the vehicle for what it's worth and the Galaxy 2012 is really something special as a vehicle. Having been somewhat absent minded in the last few years about Ford, I've realised I've seriously underestimated this manufacturer and they're in forms of technology development are keeping up with Japanese manufacturers like Honda who are famous for innovation.
Although I've praised the simple version of the MPV, I'd strongly recommend that if you're got extra money in the pocket to spend, I wouldn't cheap out on the extras within the vehicle because unlike those you see in the "high end" market with BMWs and Porsche, the additional extras offered are either useful or a significant feature in the vehicle (e.g. Panoramic roof)
However having praised the Galaxy all review, I must not forget to mention there is tons of competition out in the market with many MPVs being much cheaper and offering more. But then again, would the Galaxy be voted Best MPV of 2012 if there wasn't something simply special about the vehicle?