Ford reckons there’s plenty of pent-up demand for its new automatic Galaxy, which has finally arrived to join the manual variant of the double-BusinessCar Award-winning MPV launched in 2006.

The new six-speed auto costs an extra £1250 over its manual equivalent, and is hit by the normal emissions and economy penalties associated with a self-shifting transmission. In this case, the automatic lifts the Galaxy five benefit-in-kind bands thanks to CO2 emissions rising from 172 to 196g/km, while the economy decrease is less dramatic, dropping 5.4mpg to 38.1.

Ford Galaxy_Page 25.gif

That’s the bad news out of the way. The good news is that the auto suits the Galaxy maybe more than in the Mondeo we’ve already tried it in. There’s less inclination to want rapid changes in the people carrier, and when left to do its thing unflustered the transmission is as good as any auto, if occasionally caught out by the need for a sudden downshift. There is also a manual override that allows the driver to manually shift using the gear lever, though on a car like this it’s almost an irrelevance.

Otherwise, it’s business as usual for the Galaxy. The big MPV is a better drive than a people carrier has any right to be, capable above and beyond the call of duty, or the expectations of a driver of this type of vehicle.

The interior is up to the standard of Ford’s latest products, which means it’s good, though the wood effect of our Ghia spec model isn’t great. There’s plenty of space for five and a mountain of luggage, or seven and hand luggage at a squeeze thanks to the small space still available when the third row of seats are up.

From a costs point of view, Emmox Carcost predicts that the auto will cost an extra 4.4 pence per mile to run over three years and 60,000 miles. The difference is mainly thanks to the auto losing almost all of its price premium in depreciation over the three years, leaving it worth £300 more than a manual at defleet time. There’s also an extra £1000 worth of fuel over 60,000 miles to factor in thanks to the economy drop.

But for a lot of fleets, specifically those operating in cities, the auto will make a lot of sense, and therefore the extra cost worth swallowing.