The estate car form is so ideal for family life

In Car Reviews, Ford by Neil Lyndon

“These car manufacturers have no heart,” complained my wife.

“They make no allowance for the possibility that we might have bonded with a car on press loan and could be pained to see it taken away.”

Model driven: Ford Mondeo Titanium Estate 2.0 Duratorq TDCi PowerShift Auto

“The estate car form is so ideal for family life that it’s something of a puzzle why it should have slipped out of favour.”
If she had meant them seriously, these words might be described as not merely a First World whinge but the bleat of somebody spoiled rotten. Even with her tongue in her cheek, however, there was some truth in what she was saying about the new Mondeo estate which had been delivered for a week’s road test: it was so enjoyable, so reassuringly capable, so soundly made and so comfortable that it felt like a cruelty when they came to take it away. You can always tell when a car is a big hit in our house because there will be a fight between my wife and our younger daughter over who gets to take it to work and who gets to be driven in it to school (despite the fact that I am supposed to be writing about the thing, I am merely the mute by-stander for these 15-rounders). They squabbled every day over the Mondeo estate.

The estate car form is so ideal for family life that it’s something of a puzzle why it should have slipped out of favour. Estate car sales have been in decline all over the world for many years as the SUV and the crossover have continued their inexorable rise. Yet it remains true that there isn’t an SUV in existence that can match this Mondeo estate for driver satisfaction. The very shape of an SUV and the rake of the steering column militate against positive handling and steering characteristics whereas the estate introduces only the most fractional variations or losses as against a saloon. You might submit to the compromises of an SUV for the sake of four-wheel drive or for its elevated driver’s position but for lugging around a family’s kit and caboodle and, at the same time, enjoying yourself at the steering-wheel, the estate form remains the tops.

And this Mondeo estate is pretty close to the top of the tops. Skoda’s Superb has a bigger load space and more room in the seats; Volvo’s formidable and classy S60 has a very great deal to say for itself in this discussion; but the Mondeo demands to be considered in any comparison. Ford has absolutely cracked it with the interior of this car which is infused with a chunky functionality from the lined steering wheel to the peerless infotainment system. No driving position in any car is a more satisfying combination of comfort, support and utilitarianism.

There hasn’t been an estate car with looks to turn your head since Pontiac’s Bonneville of 1959. Perhaps that’s why so many people prefer the style varieties that are possible with the SUV form. Given that the basic material is irredeemably dull, the Mondeo estate does its best to be imposingly handsome in much the same way as a dirigible airship. Its most attractive feature is its radiator grille but that’s because Ford nicked the shape from Aston Martin.

Its only disadvantage is its name. I wouldn’t mind at all if I had to tell the saloon bar that I owned a Ford; but I couldn’t get the word “Mondeo” out of my mouth – except to laugh at the naffest composite name every created by committee.

Front View Camera
Corner View Camera

The range goes from Ford’s astounding three-cylinder, one-litre engine with 123 bhp, through the 1.5 litre EcoBoost all the way to the twin-turbo two litre diesel we (ie my wife) borrowed. The spec levels range from Style, through Zetec to Titanium. Ours was the top-of-the-range Titanium Duratorq TDCI Powershift Auto, fully specced with Titanium X which includes 17” alloy wheels, keyless entry, LED headlights, leather heated/electric front seats and privacy glass. It was also fitted with a panoramic glass sunroof and active city stop (which automatically slams on the brakes if the system detects the risk of a collision).

Acceleration from 0-60 mph in about 8.5 seconds and top speed of 135 mph ought to be more than enough for any family driver and if this Mondeo estate actually returned the average 55 mpg that Ford claim, the family’s exchequer would look a lot healthier than with the 41.5 mpg I (ie my wife) managed.

All of those highly-desirable goodies rocket the basic price of £27000+ up to almost £32000 which feels sickeningly steep for a car whose name you can hardly bear to pronounce. After a few years, however, as a second-hand buy at around £15000, it would be a superb buy.

But perhaps that’s the wrong adjective.

Mondeo Titanium Estate 2.0 Duratorq TDCi PowerShift Auto

hover to read the specs

The lowdown

On the road RRP £26,865 Price as tested £31,635

Engine: 1997cc 4 cylinder 16 valve diesel

Transmission: 6-speed Auto manual Mode Tiptronic

Max Engine Power: 180PS@3500rpm

Torque: 400Nm@2000rpm

0-62mph: 8.7seconds

Top Speed: 135mph

CO2 Emissions: 130g/km

Combined Fuel: 56.5mpg

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About the Author

Neil Lyndon


Neil Lyndon has been a journalist, broadcaster and writer on the UK's national stage for 40 years, writing for every "quality" newspaper on Fleet Street. He started writing about cars and motorbikes for The Sunday Times in the 1980s and was Motoring Correspondent of the Sunday Telegraph for 20 years, having previously written a column on motorbikes for Esquire. He is also recognised as a leading commentator on gender politics, having published No More Sex War in 1992 - the first ever critique of feminism from a radical, egalitarian point of view.

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