Plenty of room for passengers
With similar looks, similar driving dynamics and an even bigger boot, the Mondeo Estate simply builds on all that is good about the Mondeo hatchback by adding a healthy dose of practicality. It isn't particularly revolutionary, but it's a rounded, complete family wagon that will cope admirably with whatever you throw at it.
Running diesel Mondeos is unlikely to be a ruinous exercise, thanks to official economy figures in excess of 60mpg on the combined cycle. Okay, in the real world that might turn out to be more like 45mpg, but it's still a decent return for what is a big car. Buying one is likely to be equally reasonable, given the car's starting price of £22,945. It might sound like a lot to those who bought the last Mondeo, but the equivalent Volkswagen Passat is very slightly more expensive.
Though the figures suggest otherwise, the Mondeo Estate is actually a far more practical machine than its hatchback sibling. The luggage bay itself is a more useful shape, and the low boot lip makes it easy to stack it with heavy objects. Further forward, there's bags of room for both front and rear passengers, while there's a range of cubbies and cupholders for stowing smaller items.
Generally speaking, the Mondeo's controls are intuitive and ergonomic, but the plethora of buttons on the steering wheel won't be to everyone's taste. The new eight-inch touchscreen is a vast improvement on the old 4.2-inch unit, and though sometimes the icons are a touch on the small side, it's a very competent piece of kit. It isn't a standard feature on lower-spec models though.
The advantage of Ford blunting the Mondeo's handling slightly is ride comfort. On the standard 17-inch alloys of the mid-range, it's smooth, supple and an endearing cruiser, but the optional 19-inch wheels of the Titanium, however, add a slight edge to the bumps. Even on the larger rims, though, it settles down and you'll only spot the difference on really pockmarked roads.
All of the usual security features are in place, from remote central locking to a comprehensive immobiliser and alarm system. 'Keyless go' is also available, using a proximity sensor to unlock or start the car without you ever having to take the key from your pocket. You can leave belongings inside the car with relative confidence, too, as there's plenty of covered storage inside the cabin and the boot contents remain concealed thanks to the load cover.
The Mondeo has a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating thanks to solid scores in terms of occupant protection for both adults and children. It managed decent pedestrian protection and safety assistance scores, too. Ford was also the first brand to bring in seatbelt airbags as an option. When specified, all three rear seatbelts come fitted with an airbag which will inflate in the event of an accident, protecting passengers from impacting the back of the front seats.
The Mondeo always used to be the keen driver's weapon of choice in this competitive market, but Ford has chosen to blunt that edge slightly and focus on improving comfort. It has worked, and the Mondeo is a much suppler beast as a result. It still drives well though, with well weighted steering and a smooth gearbox allowing you to extract plenty of fun from a country road.
Families are the Mondeo Estate's target market, and it has been pitched perfectly. Those going on holidays and weekend breaks won't find it short of space either in the cabin or in the boot, and the comfier ride of small-wheeled variants takes some of the stress out of long-distance touring. It'll take the school run in its stride, too, and the sharp looks mean it won't be outclassed when it pulls up outside the school gates.
There aren't going to be many first-time drivers who make a beeline for the Mondeo Estate – it just isn't the type of car the youth of today tend to be drawn to – but it wouldn't be a bad car to choose. It's easy to drive, and depending on which trim level you go for, you can specify plenty of safety kit. We'd recommend the reversing camera, because while visibility is fine, the Mondeo is still a pretty sizeable thing and parking spaces are sometimes a bit tight.
The Ford name is one of the most trusted in the industry, with its smaller hatchbacks topping the UK sales charts on a regular basis. It's a badge that won't look out of place no matter where you park it. For all that, though, the Mondeo lags slightly behind German rivals when it comes to build quality. It's well put together and most of the materials are of a high standard, but the odd area of cheaper plastic is a slight disappointment.
Getting in and out of the Mondeo is not a problem, thanks to generously sized doors and a sensible door sill height. Four-legged companions can come along for the ride too, thanks to a low boot lip and a flat boot floor, both of which make it a relatively easy hop for a medium-sized dog.
If you go for the higher-spec cars, the Mondeo offers an infotainment system that's wholly competent, if not ground-breaking. It's an eight-inch touchscreen unit which provides satellite navigation, mobile phone pairing, audio entertainment and climate control. It's also equipped with a voice control system which is among the most accurate of any we've come across. Once you've learned how to navigate its menus and sub-menus, it becomes a really useful tool.
It's nice to see Ford offer some real alternatives to the austere greys and blacks that often dominate the colour palettes of the Mondeo's German rivals. Instead, there's a gorgeous candy red and a stunning metallic blue, both of which really suit the car and are set off nicely by the chrome trim on the grille and roof bars.
The Mondeo is a surprisingly large car and the fact it feels quite wide on the road can make parking daunting. Fortunately, it's actually quite manoeuvrable, and the clarity of the reversing camera in all lights makes life far easier. If you don't fancy doing it yourself, however, the Mondeo can be bought with a self-parking programme, which can analyse a space to check the car will fit, then steer it in. All you have to look after are the gears and the pedals.
Mini spare wheel supplied as standard.
Petrol engine options – 1.0-litre EcoBoost (123bhp); 1.5-litre EcoBoost (158bhp); 2.0-litre EcoBoost (237bhp). Diesel engine options – 1.5-litre (118bhp); 2.0-litre (148bhp, 178bhp, 207bhp). Transmission options: six-speed manual gearbox depending on model, plus six-speed automatic gearbox depending on model. Trim levels: Style, Zetec, Titanium, Titanium HEV.