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Ford Mondeo Estate vs Skoda Superb Estate

An all-new Skoda estate squares up to our reigning champion, the Ford Mondeo

Words ByWhat Car? team

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With SUVs the de rigueur way to cart around your family these days, itโ€™s all too easy to overlook the traditional estate car. Such wagons might not have the same lofty driving position or striking silhouette as their more fashionable alternatives, but theyโ€™re usually cheaper and lighter and are often less expensive to run.

The Ford Mondeo is a classic example of the breed. It offers plenty of space and fine handling. However, the all-new Skoda Superb Estate has just arrived to broaden your horizon. The Superbโ€™s biggest draw has always been its value for money, and, with just a small price hike over the old model, this latest version still undercuts the Mondeo by a hefty amount.

Compared with the old Superb itโ€™s bigger, lighter, cheaper to run and better equipped. Both of these estates come with 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel engines that make a lot of sense for private and company buyers alike. They give a good blend of performance and economy and, in mid-level trim, represent good value for money.

The contenders

Ford Mondeo Estate 2.0 TDCi 150 Titanium

A family estate car that's fun to drive, but it's more expensive to buy and run than the Superb

Skoda Superb Estate 2.0 TDI 150 SE Business

Without equal in this category when it comes to space, and it represents great value

What are they like inside?

Sitting behind the wheel, thereโ€™s little to choose between these two cars for space. Each has plenty of leg- and head room, even with the Mondeoโ€™s (ยฃ900) optional panoramic glass roof fitted. Both also come with height- and reach-adjustable steering wheels, although the Mondeoโ€™s extends farther towards you, which is a bonus if youโ€™re really tall and need to have the seat a long way back. If you are tall, you may also find the Skodaโ€™s steering wheel blocks your view of the instruments. However, the Skodaโ€™s dials are otherwise clearer and easier to read than the Fordโ€™s.

You get snug-fitting sports seats on Titanium-trim Mondeos, which hold you in position well through corners. However, the Superbโ€™s part-Alcantara seats are wider, firmer and posher-looking. Both cars have adjustable lumbar support as standard.

Although the Skoda is the cheaper car, you wouldnโ€™t guess it from inside. Prod the surfaces or play with the buttons and everything feels classy and built to last. The Mondeo feels a grade or two behind, with harder plastics and less tactile switchgear.

Thereโ€™s an abundance of space in the rear of both cars, but the Superb has vastly more. The extra few centimetres of leg room give it the feel of a limo. Both cars will carry three adults although the middle passenger in the Skoda will be a little less claustrophobic.

When it comes to the issue of boot space, the Mondeoโ€™s boot is unquestionably huge โ€“ itโ€™ll easily swallow several large suitcases โ€“ but the Superbโ€™s is even bigger. Both load bays are thoughtfully designed, with 12-volt sockets and bag hooks, although only the Superb has a handy rechargeable torch fitted as standard.

However, itโ€™s a shame that Skoda charges (ยฃ90) extra for boot mounted levers to drop the rear seats. Whatโ€™s more, when the Superbโ€™s rear seats are folded, thereโ€™s an annoying ridge in the floor of the extended load bay unless you pay (ยฃ150) extra for a false floor. There are no such issues in the Mondeo.

Powered tailgates are optional on both cars, which is useful when youโ€™re got your arms full. Both cars have touchscreen infotainment systems with sat-nav. The Fordโ€™s screen is bigger (8.0in vs 6.5in), but the Superbโ€™s system is much more user-friendly and, if you stump up an extra ยฃ1600, can be upgraded to a larger screen with a DVD player and wi-fi connectivity.

What are they like to drive?

In the damp conditions in which our tests were conducted, the Superb was almost half a second quicker in the 0-60mph dash. The in-gear acceleration times, which give you a better idea of how flexible each engine is in real-world driving, also put the Superb ahead. However, while you may need to drop down an extra gear in the Ford to get the same turn of speed, the Mondeo has the more pleasant gearchange and still offers decent pace. Its engine is quieter, too.

The Mondeo is also more fun to drive. Thereโ€™s a touch less body roll as you turn in to bends, and the car feels better tied down over bumps and crests, giving you more confidence. However, the Skoda is certainly no wallowy barge. Sure, it feels a touch softer and the body a bit more floaty over crests, but it still grips well and responds positively to your every command. It also has the nicer steering. The Fordโ€™s steering can feel inconsistently weighted as you apply lock, while on the way out of corners the wheel wants to self-centre in a slightly unnatural way.

By contrast, the Skodaโ€™s builds resistance more progressively, so you find yourself thinking less about your steering inputs and more about the road ahead. As well as that, the Superb still has the edge for comfort. True, our test Mondeoโ€™s optional larger 19in alloys didnโ€™t help its cause (17s comes as standard) but wider experience tells us the Ford isnโ€™t quite as comfortable as the Skoda, even in standard form.

Both cars generate a noticeable amount of wind noise. However, road noise is more of an issue in both cars, especially at higher speeds, although it is slightly less prevalent in the Mondeo.

What will they cost?

If you look at the list prices, the Skoda appears the cheaper car by around ยฃ1700. However, if youโ€™re a cash buyer, our Target Price research shows that dealer discounts reduce that difference to around ยฃ600.

Skoda doesnโ€™t offer PCP finance on the SE Business trim weโ€™re testing here, but looking at the leasing deals on offer (based on 36 months and 12,000 miles a year) itโ€™s the Superb that comes out cheaper again by ยฃ20 a month.

In fact, whichever way you look at it, over three years the Skoda is the cheaper option. It costs less to insure, service and tax, but by far the biggest difference is how much youโ€™ll lose in depreciation. When it comes to trade-in time, the Superb will have lost around ยฃ1700 less of its new value.

If youโ€™re a company car driver taxed at 40%, the Skodaโ€™s lower list price and smaller CO2 emissions mean youโ€™ll also have to fork out ยฃ700 less in benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax bills over the same three-year period. Meanwhile, if you pay for your own fuel thereโ€™s another small saving; our True MPG tests show that the Superb averages around 2mpg more in real-world driving.

Both cars come with plenty of goodies, including sat-nav, a DAB radio, Bluetooth and dual-zone climate control. The Superb gets front and rear parking sensors and adaptive cruise control (the Mondeo has regular cruise only). The Ford has traffic-sign recognition, though, which costs extra on its rival.

Both cars scored the maximum of five stars in their respective Euro NCAP crash tests. However, looking at the individual scores, the Skoda has better pedestrian safety along with more pre-emptive safety features, including automatic emergency braking.

Our verdict

Both are very good estate cars indeed. If youโ€™re after a comfortable cruiser thatโ€™ll carry up to five adults with a full complement of luggage, neither will disappoint.

That said, while the Mondeo is that bit more enjoyable to drive, the Superb makes more sense. Itโ€™s more spacious, offers better performance and has a much classier-feeling interior. The fact itโ€™s also cheaper to buy and run only seals the deal, and that makes it difficult to beat.

1st

Skoda Superb Estate 2.0 TDI 150 SE Business

For Massive cabin and boot; well finished; cheaper to buy and run

Against Slightly gruff-sounding engine; stepped boot floor

Verdict Incredible range of abilities make it an awesome package

2nd

Ford Mondeo Estate 2.0 TDCi 150 Titanium

For Fine handling; large, practical boot; driving position; refined engine

Against So-so performance; higher running costs; cabin quality

Verdict Still a very impressive car, but costlier to run

Ford Mondeo Estate

Engine size

2.0-litre diesel

Price from

ยฃ25,045 (list)

Power

148bhp

Torque

258lb ft

0-60mph

10.1 seconds

Top speed

96mph

Fuel economy

45.1mpg

CO2

112g/km

Skoda Superb Estate

Engine size

2.0-litre diesel

Price from

ยฃ23,290 (list)

Power

148bhp

Torque

251lb ft

0-62mph

9.7 seconds

Top speed

135mph

Fuel economy

47.2mpg

CO2

109g/km