REVAMPED in autumn 2011, the Ford Mondeo Estate has now been voted Britain's best estate car for the second year in succession and that's hardly surprising.
Last autumn it was given a comprehensive make-over inside and out with an emphasis on enhanced technology features and was also given the latest high performance 1.6 EcoBoost petrol engine, which has been doing really well in the Focus stable.
The result is a very economical and expansive model which easily and admirably fulfils several roles while bringing greater sophistication and refinement to the range.
EcoBoost engines come in a range of power outputs and this is the beefy 160ps unit with a manual six-speed gearbox to make the most of the available power.
Don't be fooled by the comparatively modest engine size in such a big and roomy body, the EcoBoost delivers strong output which translates into good acceleration from rest, through the gears and keeps up a steady and high motorway performance.
Even so it also returns good economy when it's not pushed to its limits and a steady cruise will see it nudging 40mpg on long runs.
The eagerness of the engine is matched by a very agile steering system, good reassuring brakes and a surprisingly communicative chassis and comfortable ride for an estate car.
Any estate car is a compromise between capacity and capability. The Mondeo has a nominal luggage space of 537 litres with the seats in use, but folding them out of the way more than triples this load volume to 1,728 litres and i's easy to fill from the back or through the rear passenger doors.
It is sensibly shaped without any hindrance to loading and you have a luggage cover to keep it out of prying eyes when the back seats are used.
Access is good for occupants, with big openings to the doors, and once inside the seats are generous and comfortable with good support and front adjustments. It is a roomy interior.
For the driver, everything falls to hand and foot and it is a low stress environment. You have very good vision even to the back, the wipers are effective and the lights highly efficient.
Secondary switches are just where you would want them to be and operate smoothly, the heating and ventilation is very good and the instruments are directly infront of the wheel.
Oddments provision is good throughout the estate's cabin and this endears it to a family. You have plenty of places to store items and the in-car entertainment provision is very good and easily upgraded if you want to turn it into a mobile clubroom.
Even so, noise levels are also very low, the most noticeably being the rumbling road noises as mechanical and wind disturbances are virtually non-existent.