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The Top Gear car review:Ford Mondeo Estate
For:Newfound maturity, no less useful than the old one, lots of toys
Against:A Passat is posher, the old one is better to drive
2.0 TDCi Zetec 5dr
The new Mondeo is finally here. Can it justify a near three year wait? Paul Horrell drives it
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What we say:
Mondeo man has grown up and discovered the finer things in life. Less fun, but more satisfying overall
What is it?
One of the backbones of Britain really. Coming soon to builder’s yards, school runs and every motorway in the land, Ford’s handsome fourth-gen Mondeo has spawned a wagon version. For the first time, it’s available with a teeny 1.0-litre three-cylinder Ecoboost engine, and you get almost 200 litres of extra boostpace over the hatchback – as long as the rear seats are flipped down (the hatch is actually bigger with them up).
It still lacks the cachet of the rather accomplished newVW Passat – which incidentally trounces the Ford for cargo capacity – but the Mondeo is a far more technologically sophisticated machine than the super-common wagon it replaces – and deserves to shift just as many examples.
Make no mistake – like the Focus, Ford’s latest Mondeo isn’t quite the gigglesome handler it once was – but it’s so much more refined at a cruise that the trade-off is totally worth it. This is a motorway-special repmobile after all. A reduction in road and wind noise and a more resolved, mature ride – that’s what you’ll notice when hopping from the old Mondeo Estate into this one.
Sure, along the way it’s also gained a steering numbness and lack of adjustability that robs it of Ford’s trademark ‘drivers’ car’ mantra, but you’d have to concede that for what most people actually buy Mondeos for, the new version’s a much more refined, sorted companion. It’s the sort of premium feel BMW 3-Series customers will be pleased to discover, and it may even tip the balance for a few of them.
On the inside
Gone are the shiny metal-effect-plastics of the previous model, replaced by higher quality matt plastics throughout. Sure, a Volkswagen Passat feels far posher to the touch and appears so to the eye, but the Mondeo has at least overtaken its Japanese and Korean opposition once again.
The SYNC touchscreen is a key element of this makeover, but as this is an estate, we’ll concentrate on matters further back. With the seats up, the boot actually offers 25 litres less than the capacious Mondeo hatch, but the wide, low-silled load bay with the spacious rear bench folded is surely big enough for most families’ needs.
Overall, Ford could have been a touch more adventurous and titillating with the cabin’s look, but it knows that conservatism sells in this market, and the Mondeo at last has a grown-up environment to meet the competition with.
No doubt, most UK buyers will walk straight past the zingy petrol Mondeos and plump straight for the diesels. Fear not – they’re good too – the 1.6-litre TDCi is miles more refined than the last-gen, and there’s the predictable array of 2.0-litre mills too. No, it’s not going to set your heart racing, but the Mondeo just swells with a sense of fitness for purpose.