Ford Mondeo estateFirst drive

The Ford Mondeo large family hatchback and estate is hugely popular in the UK, with more than 1.3 million sold since 1993.

The fourth generation model was launched in 2007 and is the biggest and most comfortable yet. For 2010 it’s undergone some significant revisions in a bid to maintain its competitiveness versus upmarket rivals such as the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes C-Class.

Many of the 1,365 changes made are cosmetic, but a range of new engines will keep the cost-conscious motorist interested. We put the spacious Mondeo estate to the test.

The Ford Mondeo is one of the most handsome cars in its class, particularly in its elegant estate guise. And while it wasn’t in great need of a makeover, the new look is a thoroughly modern design.

Fresh new look

The 2010-onwards model has a new front bumper with a larger lower grille, while the upper grille has been redesigned with higher-specification models featuring chrome detailing and bright LED lighting. At the rear there’s a new tailgate and a pair of LED taillights with an illuminated accent that gives the car identity at night.

Full gallery: Ford Mondeo

Ford Mondeo

A new range of wheels are also offered, including the option of 19-inch alloy wheels for the first time.

The interior changes are more subtle. Exceptionally high quality materials remain, as does the care and quality with which they have been assembled. There’s a new centre console which is finished in satin black, rather than the silver finish of the old model.

The instrumentation has been redesigned to be clearer and give a more upmarket feel, while the leather seats fitted to our test car (they’re standard on the top-of-the-range Titanium X model) are high quality and comfortable.

Easy-access boot

Extra luggage carrying capacity is the Mondeo estate’s raison d’être, but its on-paper boot capacity is disappointing when compared to its hatchback brother. Loaded safely to the level of the seat backs, there’s around 549 litres of room – just nine litres more than its hatchback sibling. But the boot does have a flat floor, is easy to access and with the rear seats folded flat – and the seat bases flipped forward – it creates a cavernous 1,680 litres of space when loaded to the roof.

Up front, space is identical to the hatchback, with the wide car offering huge amounts of space for driver and passenger, and rear-seat occupants are served equally well.

Recent Mondeos have been praised for their driving verve, and its ability to entertain the driver remains. Responsive steering means the driver can corner with confidence, and firm but compliant suspension means comfort levels are good too.

New engines

The 2010 Mondeo features a number of new engine options, but only the new 2.2-litre TDCi diesel and a powerful 240bhp 2-litre petrol engine were available to test.

The 2.2-litre diesel is hugely impressive, with plenty of pulling power for good performance. In the estate model, it’ll reach 62mph in 8.3 seconds and is very refined at both low and high speeds. However, while it’s running costs – 47mpg and CO2 emissions of 159g/km – are impressive, most buyers will be swayed towards one of the three 2-litre diesels on offer.

The 2-litre diesel engine is available in three power outputs – producing 115bhp, 140bhp or 163bhp – and all better the 2.2-litre’s CO2 emissions and fuel consumption. The 115bhp version is the most efficient option, covering 53.2mpg and emitting 139g/km of CO2.

Ford has concentrated on improving the efficiency of its petrol engines, and the clever EcoBoost units are available in the Mondeo estate in three 2-litre versions and a 1.6-litre engine.

The 1.6-litre unit offers near-diesel levels of fuel consumption at 41.5mpg, and emits 159g/km. We tested the new 240bhp 2-litre petrol engine – the most powerful available – and were impressed by its refinement and potency. Although, when mated to an automatic gearbox performance was blunted.

New technology

The revised Mondeo estate shares the previous model’s solidity and safety levels, with which it achieved a full five star rating in the EuroNCAP crash test programme. New safety kit available in the Mondeo estate includes systems which:

• Vibrate the steering wheel should the driver veer out of lane at speed
• Warn the driver should the car detect they are losing concentration
• Automatically activate the main beam headlights when it is safe to do so
• Monitor blind spots and warn the driver when a car enters the zone
• Lock the rear doors and windows to stop children tampering

All Mondeo estates come with MP3-compatible audio systems, and a number of different trim levels are available. Other optional equipment includes adjustable suspension settings, cruise control which can maintain a set distance from the car in front, tyre pressure monitoring, Forward Alert which warns the driver if there is a risk of a rear-end shunt, hill start assistance and headlamps that can swivel to “look” around corners.

The 2010 Ford Mondeo estate may not reinvent the model, but the raft of seemingly small changes creates something far more. Despite lacking the “premium” badge of the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4, its abilities are more than enough to make it a genuine alternative.

Key facts:

Model tested: Ford Mondeo Estate 2.2 TDCi Titanium X Sport
On the road price: c.£29,745
Price range: £17,295 – £29,745
Date tested: September 2010
Road tester: Stuart Milne