Thirteen long, and sometimes hard, winters of two-wheeled travel teach you a thing or two about respecting the dangers of snow and ice.

You quickly learn that a winter wonderland of glistening trees means it’s just as likely that the road will be frozen solid too.

Memories of my regular motorcycling days came back with a vengeance while cruising at midnight across the top of the frost-covered Cotswolds in Ford’s refreshed S-Max.

As patches of freezing fog billowed past and ice crystals swirled across the road, I realised just how completely out of touch I felt with the conditions outside.

With a heated rear screen, and windscreen, heated front seats on a mid-range setting, climate control set to a snuggly 23C and the iPod-linked hi-fi system oozing soothing sounds, the bitter minus 5C landscape outside might as well have been on television.

This cosy feeling has its obvious perils, but the S-Max matches its relaxed feel with a battery of electronic safety systems, which combine with a razor-sharp chassis to deliver a sporty car that delivers reassuring safety with seven-seat practicality.

The handling of the S-Max is so crisp and the ride so comfortable, that it’s hard to believe this is a serious capacious people mover capable of moving seven in some style and no little luxury.

First launched in 2006, the S-Max has been given a refreshed exterior and interior and a new line-up of petrol engines and revised diesels.

One of those is the 2.0-litre diesel used in the test car, linked to a six-speed automatic gearbox, which combines 163 horsepower punch with 50mpg fuel consumption.

While the underbonnet changes are harder to spot, the external changes are immediately obvious with a strongly sculptured bonnet and new front facia, holding a bolder, gloss black, lower front grille.

On upmarket models, the new lower front bumper is fitted with distinctive LED daytime running lights. From the side, a new chrome strip surrounds the whole glass area and the tailgate is fitted with new LED tail lights.

Inside the test car, the focus has been on smarter looks, including new, super-bright LED interior lighting, and on practicality with Ford’s Fold Flat System as standard for the second and third row of seats. The upmarket test model also came with a new overhead console with sunglasses holder and child-watch mirror, and a new one-piece panorama roof equipped with power sun blinds. Among the options is a new Blind Spot Information System, a radar-based device that warns you of vehicles in your blind spot area and an adjustable speed limiter device, designed to help you set, and not exceed, specific speed limits unintentionally.

Additional devices available on the S-Max for the first time, include keyless entry and Ford’s award-winning EasyFuel capless refuelling system.

The S-Max was recently named as Britain’s best multi-purpose vehicle for the third successive year at the Auto Express New Car Awards. Little surprise for such a cool car.

Auto facts Ford S-MAX Titanium X Sport Powershift

  • Price: £30,095
  • Insurance group: 22 (1-50)
  • Fuel consumption (Combined): 47.1mpg
  • Top speed: 126mph
  • Length: 476.8cm/187.7in
  • Width: 188.4cm/74.1in
  • Luggage capacity: 10 cu ft (with seven seats in place)
  • Fuel tank capacity: 15.4 gallons/70 litres
  • CO2 emissions: 159g/km
  • Warranty: Three years/60,000 miles