“So, the only difference between this car and an Addison Lee,” chortles my neighbour, “is that your car doesn’t have a big white AL sticker in the back window!”
He’s delighted with himself, but I’m nonplussed. How can he be bothered to make such a lame joke and does he think the ubiquitous minicab is an actual car brand? I also feel a bit defensive on behalf of my handsome, gleamingly black MPV.
Ford’s hard-working, ultra-reliable Galaxy is a fleet favourite up and down the country. There are few large MPVs more well known. There can hardly be a person in Britain who hasn’t at some point sat in a Galaxy and given thanks for its 24-hour ability to get you home without a word of thanks or even a glance of acknowledgement. All it asks is that you aren’t sick in its footwells. Ford’s Galaxy wears its brilliance lightly. The fact it balances a winning combination of low running costs with an ability to swallow a huge number of people and suitcases means most of us take it for granted.
0-62mph 10 seconds
Top speed 122mph
Eco score ★★★☆☆
As impressionable young Galaxies trundle off their production line at the vast AutoEuropa factory in Palmela, Portugal, many must hope for a more rewarding life than merely shunting people to airports and back again – a liftetime of private-hire purgatory. Maybe they dream of a loving family? After all, their virtues of affordability, durability and hard-scrabble toughness make them a leading large MPV choice.
To really appreciate a Galaxy, it does help if you have a big domestic unit. Last weekend, we effortlessly packed in three grown-up kids, plus a boyfriend, a girlfriend and all their clobber and headed to Shropshire for a few days. Rather than looking like sardines jammed into the back row, they languished in acres of space – able to save their sharp elbows for another trip.
The middle row of seats has room for three 6ft adults in reclining chairs that individually slide forward and backwards. That space is made all the more useful by a low central tunnel and lots of foot space under the front seats. Pull a lever on the top of the outer seats and they tilt and slide forward to allow easy access to the third row.
If you take a moment, you’ll notice how well designed a Galaxy is – in an economical, unshowy way. There’s the elegant quarter light by the front window and at the rear the glass flows down from the roof to the number plate in a single uninterrupted sheet – the wiper neatly protruding. It’s classier than an anonymous transporter needs to be.
There’s a range of petrol units and turbo diesels to choose from. The 148bhp engine is the bestseller – it’s a useful blend of performance, efficiency and price. The 163bhp petrol option lacks the oomph of the diesels and, although it’s the cheapest in the range, you may find its running costs are higher. Clearly, though, if you live in a city you’ll want to consider the environmental impact of diesel. Both manual and auto gearboxes are available.
Despite making such excellent cars, Ford has struggled to get its infotainment interface right. It used to be a nasty dot matrix affair. But here, at last, they’ve caught up with everyone else. Now it is digital, legible and intuitive. This isn’t a driver’s car, as such, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get plenty of pleasure driving it. Up front you sit in a commanding position, controlling a vehicle that’s comfortable and compliant. And there’s something joyful to be found in piloting a minibus brimful with your nearest and dearest. It’s good to get them all under one roof…