Ford Mondeo Estate

First report: Big family ferrier has joined fleet – but are we pining for the S-MAX MPV it replaces?

  • supple chassis, direct, accurate steering and capable suspension make the Mondeo a delight to drive at any speed. It has agility to match models from any class, yet swallows lots of luggage – and the sliding boot floor (left) enhances practicality further. A really long sixth gear ensures great motorway refinement, and this has the added benefit of boosting fuel economy.
  • The sat-nav system (left) has played up a bit – I’ve had to restart it to clear a bug. Plus, despite the cabin’s size, the low-slung sport suspension hampers access to the rear – not ideal if you’re securing children in the back. There are a couple of rattles from the rear seats, too.

It’s Auto Express’s favourite large estate car, and a best seller, too. But just how luxurious can a Ford Mondeo be?

Ours is fitted with a TV system, satellite navigation, climate control and some of the best trimmed seats I have ever sat in. It’s got a sliding boot floor, steering wheel controls, heated and cooled seats, privacy glass and sports pedals.

There are colour-coded roof rails and I’ve even added a sports bodykit. The CD audio system has an iPod connector, and the in-car computer also keeps me up to date with the latest traffic news.

Sound like enough? Well, it’s not… I also ordered Ford’s keyless go system and quick clear windscreen.

In fact, the office joke is that our 2.2-litre TDCi Titanium X Sport took so long to have all its options fitted, it had to go down the firm’s production line twice!

The level of kit makes this Mondeo a genuine one-off – and I’m absolutely over the moon with it. Apart from one thing: it’s not a Ford S-MAX.

Regular readers will recall that I spent the past 12 months running a 2.0-litre TDCi version of the MPV, covering more than 22,000 miles in the process. It clearly left an impression on many of you – I still get a lot of E-mails and calls about the car, and I can understand why.

With its all-round versatility, great visibility and well built interior, the S-MAX was a trusted member of the Strong family. So the big question is, has the new Mondeo – with its bigger 173bhp engine and longer kit list – helped me forget about its big brother?

There is no quick and easy answer, but my latest Ford has a lot to live up to. It’s got off to a good start with its styling. The Estate looks great. With its low ride height, 18-inch alloys and spacious interior, it’s a brilliant machine to cover ground in.

A late night motorway run from London’s Heathrow airport to my Hertfordshire home convinced me there are few more refined cruisers on the market. At 70mph in top gear, the engine barely ticks over. It returns more than 40mpg and makes for virtually silent progress. Not something on offer from the S-MAX.

Add in sharp steering, and it’s easy to see why the car is so popular with UK commuters. It’s as good to drive on twisty roads as it is on motorways.

In terms of practicality, the Mondeo is a big hit too. The £391 sliding boot floor option helps loading, while the rear seats offer plenty of legroom.

So why have I found the car a bit more difficult to love than the S-MAX? The answer is all in the shape. While the Mondeo is probably better to look at, its interior is just not quite as accessible as the MPV’s. You have to bend a little bit lower to load bags in the boot.

The big question is whether the superior road manners make up for this? I’ve got a big journey on the horizon – and after that, I’ll be much better placed to give you an answer.

Second Opinion

The new Mondeo was one of the best all-rounders I drove last year, so when I got the keys to our estate, I knew what to expect. But it wasn’t the raft of options on our car that took me by surprise; it was its sheer size. The saloon I’d driven before was big, but the estate is vast. Despite the extra weight, the handling still feels excellent. And I’ve been really taken by the torquey diesel engine – it allows the Ford to switch from refined family car to high-speed tourer at will.

Conor Mills Motoring writer

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