Ford Mondeo Estate 1.6 TDi Eco 115 Zetec
List price when new £21,945
Price today £7000
Available from 2007-2015
It might not have a premium badge, but the Mondeo Estate is still a class act and great to drive.
Peugeot 508 SW 1.6 e-HDi EGC Active
List price when new £21,975
Price today £7000
Available from 2011-present
Peugeot’s 508 estate – dubbed SW – has always been a looker, and this e-HDi version is super efficient.
Skoda Superb Estate 1.6 TDI CR 105 SE
List price when new £21,685
Price today £8000
Available from 2008-2015
The vast Superb has become the go-to big estate, and majors on quality and fuel economy.
Price today is based on a 2011 model with average mileage and full service history, correct at time of writing
The trend for big SUVs – and indeed, that for MPVs which came before it – is all well and good, but despite these new-fangled impostors, the fact remains that if you want to move large quantities of stuff in relative comfort, an estate car takes some beating.
And with some great estates now available for very little cash on the used market, now’s a good time to buy. Every used estate car we’ve brought together for this test is now available for £8000 or less – not bad when you consider they’re just five years old, not to mention just how much car you’re getting for your cash.
While more prestigious models have encroached on its territory in recent years, the Ford Mondeo remains one of Britain’s best-loved cars, and in Estate form it makes more sense than in any other. It has a vast boot, it’s great value, and it even looks sleek and sporty – all qualities that might make you believe it wore a premium manufacturer’s badge, if you didn’t know.
If it’s sleek styling you’re after, your head will also have been turned by the Peugeot 508 SW. Long and low, this big estate from France can also boast some impressively economical engines – the most efficient of which is here today. But it also has the smallest boot here, which might make it a case of style over substance.
Substance over style, however, best describes the Skoda Superb Estate. Its slightly bland styling masks an enormous boot that makes it effortlessly practical; what’s more, there’s a sense of quality throughout its interior that its rivals will struggle to match. All of which sounds great, but it doesn’t come cheap – so is it worth its high price? Time to find out.
What are they like to drive?
Mere 1.6-litre engines don’t seem like much when they’re expected to haul around big estates, and they’re tuned for efficiency ahead of performance. Yet each of these cars is up to taking the family and and holiday luggage, or half of Ikea.
The Mondeo is most impressive, which is hardly surprising given that it has the most power and has plenty of torque. Its engine needs to reach 1750rpm before it really starts to work, but it feels perky enough below that.
The Superb feels a bit flat after the Mondeo, especially when it’s off boost. Its turbo spins up a bit earlier than the Mondeo’s, but even when this happens, it doesn’t surge forward as strongly. The Superb partially compensates by having a shorter top gear than the Mondeo, so it’s less likely to need a downchange on the motorway.
The 508, meanwhile, matches the Mondeo for torque and is only slightly down on power, but it still takes longest to get up to speed – the standard semi-automatic gearbox is to blame. This feels slow to change gear and is jerky in full automatic mode. You can smooth things out if you use the paddles behind the steering wheel to swap gears and lift off the accelerator during shifts – but this rather defeats the object of an automatic.
Despite its considerable size, the 508 turns into corners sharply and always remains composed. Unfortunately, the firm ride equates to heavy steering, making parking more of a chore than it need be, and the hard suspension means you feel plenty of what’s going on at the road surface.
The Superb can also be firm, particularly around town, and its body leans over a bit more than the 508’s in corners. However, it feels rock-solid on the motorway, and its steering is both lighter and more accurate.
As good as the 508 and Superb are, neither can match the Mondeo. It’s a joy to drive on any road, thanks to steering that’s light and effortless at low speeds, and sharp and full of feel when you speed things up. What’s more, the ride is easy to live with: firm enough to stop the car lolling around, yet sufficiently supple to smother most lumps and bumps.
All three cars are pretty quiet, although this is another area in which the Mondeo sets the bar. It’s tranquil enough on the move to put some luxury cars to shame, whereas the 508 is let down by some wind noise at speed, and you can hear the Superb’s suspension working away on patchy roads.
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