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After half a century and some 14 million units built, Ford closes one of its largest plants, located in the Belgian city of Genk, with manufacturing of the Mondeo, S-Max and Galaxy shifting to Valencia instead.

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The Blue Oval's 'One Ford' mantra has seen rapid commonization of the automaker's products across markets, but North America still has to look from afar at most of the company's Max-branded people movers, including this new S-Max. That's a bit of a shame – we like the space efficiency and above-average driving dynamics of the C-Max models we do get, but seeing this updated seven-seat small minivan makes us want the One Ford initiative to extend even further.

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Let's get this unfortunate though important tidbit out of the way right off the bat: The Ford S-Max isn't sold in the United States, and it's not coming here, at least not anytime soon. And so it's with our European friends in mind that we share this information about the next-gen S-Max (previewed about a year ago in concept form) that is set to debut all across Europe next year and will be shown off at the upcoming Paris Motor Show. Now, moving on...

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Ford has a bit of a history in reviving the names of old coachbuilders it has long since gobbled up and using them to distinguish its top-of-the-line models in Europe. That's what it did for years with Ghia, and after having replaced it several years ago with the Titanium trim level, now it's doing it again with Vignale.

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Ford's latest don't-call-it-a-minivan is called the S-Max Concept, and it's a looker. As you can see, the conceptual overgrown hatch makes good use of Ford's latest design language, especially at the very front of the S-Max, which bears a striking resemblance to production models that include the Focus, C-Max and Fusion.

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Ford says that 10-15 percent of its customers in Europe want their cars to be set apart from regular Fords - even those wearing the top Titanium X trim - and the Blue Oval will answer them with the Vignale sub-brand. The new brand proposes a more upscale look and a much-improved dealership experience, Autocar reports. The Vignale Mondeo will debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show to kick off the new endeavor.

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Ford unveiled today the S-Max Concept, which comes with a new, sleek look and loaded with innovative technology, such as a heart-rate monitoring seat. But if your heart is set on a minivan sports activity vehicle (SAV) and you live in the States, don't wait for this one – it's a Europe-only product, and we don't expect that to change when the next-gen S-Max is released.

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2012 Ford Focus – Click above for high-res image gallery

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Ford's rakish S-Max people mover may yet come to the States, but we almost certainly won't see it before the facelift seen here takes effect. Caught by long-lensed spy shots for EVO Magazine, this next-generation S-Max mule was caught pulling caravan duty in the Swiss mountains.

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Ford, along with every automaker selling cars in Europe, is hard at work reducing the carbon emissions of its most popular people movers. Europeans are taxed based on the CO2 emissions from their car's tailpipes, and anything that scores less than 119g/km is subject to big savings. For this reason, Ford's understandably happy to announce that its C-Max now gets a 119g/km rating when equipped with either of the 1.6-liter diesel engine options. Fuel efficiency is also a strong point, with the comb

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The seven-seat Ford S-Max has been a huge hit in Europe since its introduction in 2007, and the Blue Oval is looking to keep up the momentum with a five passenger Ford S-Max, dubbed the Trend, for the growing China market. The S-Max will have an additional 185 liters of cargo capacity sans third row, and the eliminated seating will also make the crossover lighter. Power will come from Ford's corporate 2.3-liter engine mated to a six speed automatic transmission.

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Click the S-Max for a high-res gallery

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One of the intrepid editors at Motor Trend snapped off a few shots of a manufacturer plate-equipped Ford S-Max making the rounds in Los Angeles. Yes, it is the exact same S-Max that Autoblog reader Ku Kim snapped back in late July. So, what does this mean? Currently: nothing. But we do know that Ford CEO Alan Mulally is hot on bringing some Euro-only models here to the States as a way to spread development costs. And a few of us around the Autoblog offices have maintained for a while that the S-

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Alert Autoblog reader, Ku Kim, spotted an odd-looking van in Los Angeles traffic. With his always-handy mobile phone, he snapped a couple of pictures of Ford's new S-Max.

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Striking us as perhaps something out of Shaun of the Dead, where bizarre news reports keep filtering in through a world-wide crises, we have a somewhat garbled missive from abroad that seems to indicate that the British TV program, Fifth Gear, has awarded the Chevrolet Corvette its Fast Car of the Year award for 2006. A British TV show naming an American car as the best in its class? Must be something amiss. Perhaps the satellite feed is a bit wonky. The show's website doesn't have a confirmatio

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Autocar just announced their Autocar Award winners, which "celebrate the biggest success stories of the past 12 months – and those who made them happen." One of the highlights of the evening was when it was announced that Autocar readers had selected the Ford S-Max as Car Of The Year. They weren't the first to select this MPV as a COTY and probably won't be the last. When Ford of Britain chairman Roelant de Waard collected the award from Autocar editor-in-chief Steve Cropley, he explained

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