In this week’s blog we offer something quite different. A recent customer offered to share her experiences with us of her day spent with the SMax, and quite a day it turned out to be...
“In the way that you have cat people or dog people, I feel people can similarly be divided based on their relationship to cars. So I should probably start by explaining that: I’m not a shiny, speedy, new car person; I’m a messy, big, ‘turn the key and hope it goes’ car person. If, therefore, you’re reading this and expecting an informed breakdown of the SMax’s turbocharged engine spec and a comparison of bhp to engine capacity, you may wish to stop reading now.
Having said all that, with 3 children, 2 ponies, 1 business and an extremely busy husband the logistics of daily life are often a challenge and my car is essential to the smooth running of even the most straightforward day. So when asked to consider the new SMax as a possible replacement for my trusty (and slightly rusty) old 7 seat 4x4, I was reluctant on the basis that: A) it wasn’t a ‘real 4x4; B) it wasn’t big enough; and C) I didn’t want a new car! Nevertheless, I grudgingly agreed to a 24 hour trial period.
The day began as most do with the hectic school run. My three kids plus two additional friends and a collection of bags for after school activities that look like sufficient luggage for a two-week holiday, were all successfully piled into the surprisingly tardis-like SMax. This was a surprise as on the face of it the car doesn’t look like it would accommodate so much, so easily. In fact, it’s external appearance is deceiving. The SMax is quite good looking and certainly a lot less ‘Mumsy taxi driver’ than comparable vehicles offering the same internal capacity.
With a grudging shrug that my first argument against the SMax had been so easily proved wrong, I merrily set off with coffee securely held in one of the car’s several stable cup holders. I mention this because I feel the cup holders are a feature of car design often neglected by the more professional reviewers. However, as someone who is invariably sat waiting outside schools, ballet lessons, stable yards or stuck in traffic on the way to a meeting, the cup holder is an important feature. And when you’ve fallen foul of badly designed ones in the past, the resulting spillage of milky beverage all over the footwell is a disaster you don’t want to repeat.
Moving on! For anyone wanting to watch, perhaps the best and worst displays of parking ability are evident outside schools across the country between the hours of 8.55 and 9.05. The necessity to squeeze a small bus into a space large enough to accommodate only a Mini, at high speed and without causing bodily harm to small children running past is a truly terrifying test all parents must face. So imagine my delight and unbounded joy to find out the SMax can genuinely park itself. It’s clever little sensors and amazing spinning steering wheel feel like something from the next century. It’s hard to trust the technology at first and the temptation to grab the wheel is almost overwhelming. However, it’s worth resisting as the result is a beautifully parked vehicle that no passing parking critic could sneer at.
Kids safely unloaded, a speedy nip across town to the first meeting of the day forced me to acknowledge that the SMax is actually really fun to drive (get me! All Clarkson’esque). It’s super light steering was a genuine revelation after my old tank and it responds to a request for speed without a 3 second delay making it perfect for nipping out in traffic… particularly when combined with the pre-collision assist!
Before the next appointment, I had chance to check-out the techy toys. Now this is the one bit of any car that I do get excited about. Five minutes happy fiddling had me hooked up to the hands free, sat nav sorted and IPhone playlist blaring through an excellent quality sound system. A vast improvement on my own car where the hand’s free phone system requires you to strain vocal chords and it feels like the sat nav hasn’t been updated since the introduction of motorways. I was even left with time to replenish my coffee and rearrange the seating to accommodate design boards before the off. I was really starting to like this car – damn.
Finally, and perhaps the most challenging moment for my friendly SMax; parking in a very muddy field. Although this may sound odd to anyone outside Cumbria, in the words of Tom Jones, ‘it’s not unusual’ if you’re based in the Lake District. I was cautious when selecting the parking space (liberal interpretation of parking space meaning spare gap by a hedge) but still confidant that my final argument, ‘it’s not a real 4x4’, would prove correct. On returning to the car I walked past several other drivers pushing their vehicles out of muddy hollows with wheels spinning and spraying mud, a few were even being dragged by tractors. I became nervous.
When I reached the car, de-booted and climbed in, I realized I was rooting for my little SMax to prove me wrong. It’s easy going drive and accommodating features had won me over and it already felt like a friend. Cautiously I began driving out of the boggy field, I needn’t have worried, like a proud dog waving it’s tail the SMax glided out of the field and away we went.
Several more hours of pick-ups, drop-offs and shopping trips cemented our friendship and it was with a heavy heart that I handed back the keys. Like a good friend, the SMax isn’t flashy or overstated with it’s help. It just has a hundred tiny features that make your day a little bit easier without you realizing it. Would I trade for the SMax… definitely.”