Called Intelligent Speed Limiter, the system will automatically slow the vehicle from its current speed as it approaches a lower speed zone, or ease back on the limiter once a higher zone has been entered.
Using a windscreen-mounted camera, the system reads speed signs as it passes them to know which speed zone the driver is currently supposed to obey.
Rather than apply the brakes, the system reduces fuel supply to the engine and uses torque to wash off speed.
It the driver negotiates a downhill section which sees the vehicle exceed the speed limit, an audible warning is heard to remind them to slow down.
Drivers can choose to set the speed limiter manually and temporarily override it with a swift kick of the throttle pedal - or switch the system off altogether.
In S-Maxs with satellite navigation, the system uses both the pre-existing sat-nav data and road signs to determine the current speed limit.
"Drivers are not always conscious of speeding and sometimes only becoming aware they were going too fast when they receive a fine in the mail or are pulled over by law enforcement," Ford Europe’s Stefan Kappes said.
"Intelligent Speed Limiter can remove one of the stresses of driving, helping ensure customers remain within the legal speed limit."
Ford has also added a pedestrian detection system to the S-Max’s options list, and the people-mover is equipped with a grille-mounted camera to assist at difficult intersections.
As the S-Max isn’t scheduled for an Australian debut anytime soon, local Ford fans will have to wait until the carmaker rolls out the technology in other models to get their hands on it - assuming Ford does so.
MORE: Ford Announces New Silicon Valley Technology Research Centre
MORE News & Reviews: Ford | S-Max | Technology