The new Ford Mondeo Estate will really have to go some to match the success of its predecessor, which picked up our Estate of the Year award a record-breaking five times.
Available to order now and with first deliveries in December, Ford’s latest wagon faces some seriously tough competition, including estate versions of the VW Golf and new Passat, as well as the value-focused Skoda Octavia.
As with the new Mondeo hatch – which goes on sale at the same time – there’ll be a choice of two petrol engines and three diesels, the most efficient of these being a 1.6 with CO2 emissions of just 99g/km.
What’s the 2015 Ford Mondeo Estate like inside?
Let’s start with the most important bit: the boot. It’s suitably large, with an official 525 litres of room with the rear seats in place. On paper that's less luggage space than you get in the rival VW Golf Estate, but in reality the Mondeo’s boot is longer and wider, if not quite as tall.
Better still, the floor of the boot lies flush with the entrance, meaning there’s no lip to negotiate when you’re lifting things in and out. Folding down the rear seats leaves a totally flat extended loadbay with a Golf-beating 1630 litres of space.
It's just a pity that you can only drop the rear seats by pulling levers next to the headrests from inside the rear cabin; there are no handles in the boot compartment or spring-loaded seatbacks to make your life easier when your arms are full of stuff.
The new Mondeo is one of the longest cars in its class, so there’s loads of rear kneeroom. Carrying three in the back is also relatively easy, thanks to the car’s broad cabin. There’s considerably more rear headroom than in the hatchback version, too – even very tall adults will fit comfortably.
The centre of the dashboard is dominated by a new 8.0-inch colour touch-screen, which controls most of the car's infotainment functions. It’s undoubtedly a big improvement on the outdated system in the previous Mondeo, being quicker to respond to inputs and easier to see in bright conditions. The menus could be a little more intuitive, though.
On the plus side, the touch-screen keeps the rest of the dashboard mercifully clean and clutter-free, and the few physical controls there are – such as those for the air-con system – are easy to fathom.
Just don’t expect to be blown away by the quality of the cabin. True, the dashboard is made mostly from dense and soft-touch materials, but some of the fixtures and buttons feel a bit cheap and flimsy.
Zetec and Titanium are expected to be the most popular trims, and the former comes with most of the kit buyers are likely to want – you get 16-inch alloys, a DAB radio, dual-zone climate control, cruise control and electric front windows.
Meanwhile, Titanium trim adds luxuries like bigger alloy wheels, keyless start, sports seats, sat-nav, automatic headlights and wipers and a new lane-keep assist system.
What’s the 2015 Ford Mondeo Estate like to drive?
We tried the 158bhp 1.5 turbo petrol, which isn’t likely to be a big seller in the UK due to the Mondeo’s popularity with diesel-obsessed fleet buyers.
Still, it’s a nice engine. It’ll pull from less than 2000rpm without struggling, and is reasonably nippy if you work it hard. It does become a little raucous when revved, but settles down to a barely audible hum at a steady 70mph.
Wind and road noise were also muted at motorway speeds on our Spanish test route, although the UK’s battered roads will be more of a challenge.
The standard six-speed manual gearbox has a fairly long throw, but it's light and accurate. Meanwhile, the optional six-speed auto (which we've yet to try) costs £1535, and pushes up CO2 emissions from 137g/km to 152g/km - although VW's DSG auto has a similar effect on CO2 in the Golf and Passat, too.
The previous Mondeo Estate was famous for its superb handling, and the pity is that anyone stepping out of that car will probably be a little disappointed. For this, the blame lies with Ford’s new electric steering, which is precise but too light, and doesn’t give you a great sense of connection with the road.
That’s our only complaint, though, because otherwise the Mondeo is very good to drive. It’s agile, grips well and rides even more smoothly than its predecessor. It smothers big bumps well around town, and rides with brilliant composure at motorway speeds.
Should I buy one?
The new Mondeo Estate makes an even more compelling case for itself than the hatchback version.
That’s partly because it’s up against weaker opposition, but also because the things it excels at (space and ride comfort) are crucial to estate buyers, even if it does without some of the practical touches that you'll find in the best estate cars.
True, the 1.5 Ecoboost we drove is suitable only for very low mileage private buyers, so you’ll almost certainly be better off with one of the diesels models in the Mondeo line-up as a company car.
However, compared with similarly powerful petrol estates (such as the VW Golf 1.4 TSI 140), this version of the new Mondeo stacks up pretty well, as it's cheaper to buy, well equipped, and bigger inside.
What Car? says…
Ford Mondeo Estate 1.5 Ecoboost
Engine size 1.5-litre turbo petrol
Price from £22,295
Torque 177lb ft
0-62mph 9.3 seconds
Top speed 135mph
Fuel economy 47.9mpg