Ford Mondeo Estate review
The Mondeo Estate is more practical than the other versions, just as refined and only a mite more expensive. It’s a stellar machine
After a lengthy delay due to production moving from Belgium to Spain, the fourth-generation Ford Mondeo finally arrived at the end of 2014. As before, it’s offered in hatch and estate guises, while the Hybrid model comes only as a saloon.
The new Ford Mondeo Estate follows a long and successful line-up of big Ford wagons, but drivers of Sierras and Granadas simply wouldn’t believe how technologically advanced and refined the new Mondeo has become. In paper, the Mondeo Estate doesn’t score well against its obvious rival, the VW Passat Estate, which is roomier and more efficient, but on the road, the Mondeo Estate turns out to be a hugely likeable, accomplished car.
The critical estate information is as follows: 525 litres of bootspace with the five seats in place, or 1,630 litres on hand once the rear backrests are folded. All of this is contained in a handsome body that shows the new Mondeo’s clean-cut look at its absolute best. And unlike Estates on old, there’s no echoey pay-off in cruising refinement on account of the more capacious cabin.
We'd go for the top-dog Titanium-spec car, but there’s the usual range of Ford trims to choose from, with Style and Zetec versions making up the mainstay of the range which kicks off at around £1,250 more the hatchback model.
Our choice: Ford Mondeo Estate 1.5 EcoBoost Titanium
Ford’s family cars have been a staple of the UK sales charts for decades, but while the latest Mondeo is sure to be a common sight on our roads, its distinctive looks help it stand out in the company car park. The bold grille, slender headlights and long bonnet combine to give it real presence, which is helped by the fact that it’s the largest car here.
The Mondeo’s overall dimensions are slightly smaller than before, but when lined up next to its rivals here, it looks big. There’s a small glass area and plenty of metalwork in the doors, while the rounded rear end is similar to the previous Estate’s. Like its rivals, you get silver roof rails, plus 17-inch alloys are standard.
There’s a selection of dark metallic colours on offer, but at least Ford offers distinctive white and deep blue paint, while the Ruby Red is an optional special colour.
The Mondeo’s cabin has also been given a bold makeover. Gone are the multitude of buttons seen on the previous-generation car in favour of a clean touchscreen that’s divided into four quarters for the climate, phone, nav and audio functions. In addition, you get new dials with a pair of TFT displays within them, while the multifunction steering wheel has a number of buttons, including ones for the radio and cruise control, plus Ford’s SYNC voice control system.
Although the layout looks good, the general fit and finish are letdowns. A lot of the plastics look and feel low-rent, while the air vents feel cheap and the switches don’t have the same precision quality as the rival VW Passat's.
The driving position is a bit of a disappointment, too, as the soft chairs lack support and it’s hard to get comfortable at the wheel.
In previous years, the Mondeo has set the bar in the family car class for handling, but as we’ve experienced already, the latest model leans more towards comfort than driving thrills. Add the auto box to the 2.0 TDCi diesel, and this only enhances the car’s relaxed nature.
For starters, you can’t take full control of the box – there’s no manual gate on the gearlever, and while there are shift paddles on the steering wheel, if you’re not constantly changing gears, it just reverts back to auto mode. That’s a pity, because if you leave the box to its own devices, it delivers slow shifts that blunt the performance.
The days of estate cars feeling heavier, less stiff and more echoey than their saloon or hatchback counterparts are gone. The Mondeo Estate feels, to all intents and purposes, identical to the hatchback from behind the wheel. You’re simply not aware of the extra 20kg of bodywork you’re hauling, and there’s no appreciable dent in the new Mondeo’s excellent refinement.
Tyre and engine noise are very well suppressed, especially in the case of the rev-happy 1.5-litre EcoBoost version, and the ride is nicely compliant. The new Mondeo Estate follows the hatch’s lead in being more comfort orientated than its predecessor, and losing some of the fun factor, but in this class of car, it’s simply not the disadvantage it would be if we were talking superminis or family hatches.
In 2015, you’ll be able to pair the roomy estate with a tiny engine. Ford’s 1.0-litre three-cylinder EcoBoost petrol engine will make its debut in the Mondeo range, offering 123bhp.
It’s too early to tell how this Ford is going to fare for reliability. But the US version, the Fusion, has been in production for longer, so any experiences with that car should help here. If you do have problems, your local garage might not be the most helpful franchise around. The network finished a lowly 27th in our most recent Driver Power dealer survey.
The Mondeo has only been tested by Euro NCAP in hatchback guise, but it earned five stars and a higher percentage score than the Passat. However, some safety kit is reserved for the options list. Adaptive cruise is £900, blind spot monitors are £400, while inflatable rear seatbelts are £175. Yet if you’re using child seats, the latter is only compatible with seats using Isofix mounts rather than the seatbelt.
If you’re in need of a big boot and nothing else, then the Mondeo Estate fits the bill. However, while the floor is low and there’s no boot lip to contend with, the exposed latch looks a bit cheap. The floor area is square and larger than either rival’s here, but Ford’s claimed capacity of 500 litres is 150 litres down on the VW Passat’s, plus there are no novel touches to make the most of the space on offer.
Unlike the VW, there’s no split-level floor, no levers to fold the seatbacks and no load bay dividers – if you want that, you have to pay £250 extra for the Load Management System. Elsewhere, the rear seats are relatively roomy, and there’s some decent storage up front, but the Passat is roomier, which is poor when you consider that the Mondeo is the larger car.
You can’t have the Mondeo Estate as a hybrid – that’s reserved for the four-door saloon – but the petrol-electric car struggles to match up to its near-70mpg claims even with very careful driving.
Instead, the cheapest Mondeo Estate to run is of course diesel-powered, specifically the 1.6 TDCi Econetic manual which can reportedly achieve 72.4mpg and 99g/km – the same CO2 output as the hybrid.
Pick of the petrols is the 1.5-litre EcoBoost four-pot, which delivers up to 47.8mpg and 137g/km. The penalty for having the estate over the hatch is an extra £1,250 in purchase cost.