We've always been big fans of the Ford Mondeo. Excellent driving dynamics and great value for money have made it a family favourite. But with more competition than ever for estate car honours, does it have what it takes to keep up?
First impressions are mixed.
Our mid-range Titanium model sits above the lesser Zetec variant used for our pictures, but misses out on the styling additions that come as standard on higher-spec Titanium X Sport models. As a result, we think it’s short on visual flair.
Buyers wanting a bit more design polish do have options, though. Ford offers a £500 Style Pack that adds 18-inch alloys, tinted rear windows and silver-finished roof rails. They sound like minor additions, but they transform the family mode.
Climb aboard and you’re greeted by a well laid-out cabin packed full of equipment. All models get air-con, cruise control, a Quickclear heated windscreen and Bluetooth connectivity as standard.
Rear passengers have plenty of space to stretch out in, too – there’s masses of leg, shoulder and headroom on offer. It’s a similar story up front, although the seats fitted to the Zetec in our photos proved too firm, and we struggled to get comfortable on the 300-mile round trip to our photoshoot location. Part-leather seats are a £750 option, and are more cosseting and supportive over long journeys. We have no complaints about the size of the boot. At 542 litres, it comfortably beats the Accord’s 395 litres, but falls short of the Superb’s huge 633-litre luggage area. Fold the rear seats flat, and the Mondeo’s 1,733-litre area is the second most spacious on test.
There are also plenty of useful nooks and crannies, and the rear squabs pivot forwards to provide a flat load area when the seats are folded. Take to the road, and the Mondeo continues to impress. The 2.0-litre TDCi diesel fitted to our model isn’t the most powerful engine here, providing a mere 138bhp to the Skoda’s 168bhp. But it does deliver that power very progressively, and torque increases on the overboost to 340Nm, which means in-gear punch is impressive.
The manual gearbox provides slick shifts and is simple to use, while the steering is light but wonderfully precise. Add a responsive brake pedal, a comfortable ride and a well insulated cabin, and the Mondeo asserts itself as a balanced all-rounder.
It’s economical, too. In our hands, the Ford returned 45.1mpg – a figure only the much slower Volvo could beat.
The clincher, though, could be the price. At £22,295, the Ford is the cheapest car here by at least £2,500. The only worry concerns residual values, which are the worst of all the cars on test.
Will that dent its chances?
Chart position: 2
WHY: Former class champion remains a tough contender. It’s spacious and great to drive, and Ford’s pricing structure makes Titanium model the cheapest here.
* Price: £22,295
* Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 138bhp
* 0-60mph: 9.4 seconds
* AE economy: 45.1mpg
* Claimed CO2: 139g/km