Blackball Media

After six months and nearly 15,000 miles, it's time to put our long-term Mondeo estate to pasture, and for the popular load-lugger it's a well- deserved break.

During its time with us, it's been a valuable fourth member of the video team, traipsing up and down motorways and carrying large amounts of recording equipment.

It's easy to see why the Mondeo is one of the most popular family cars in the country. It's spacious, comfortable, well built and easy to drive, and it does all that in a in a package that is competitively priced against its main rivals.

Inside, the cabin has been put through its paces by the team, with all sorts from trips to the tip, carrying bikes, fallen trees and, of course, filming gear, but it's stood up to everything and doesn't look worn or tired.

The only major criticism would be the rather out-of-date sat nav system, which is fiddly to use and is in desperate need of a refresh.

The big surprise I found was the amount of space there was in the hardy estate. Without going all Alice in Wonderland, I once ran a Skoda Superb as a long-term test car and found there was just too much space, and it wasn't as engaging to drive as the Ford.

I've also driven more compact estates, which have been more fun but lacked the space. In reality, the Mondeo seems to fit just right.

It proved a hit on the road, too, especially when lined up alongside the other load-lugger in the fleet, the Volvo XC70.

Now, it's not really a fair comparison, as the Volvo is more of a premium offering, boasting a suitably premium price tag. But the principles of load-lugging still apply, and for a lot of jobs the Mondeo was more popular.

The Mondeo is bordering on seven years old, and despite its age it still manages to hold its own on the styling front against many of its rivals.

However, the next generation is due towards the end of 2014, and while a lot of hype surrounds it, it really does have big shoes to fill.

There'll be more emphasis on lower emissions and better fuel economy, but I really hope it maintains its superb handling characteristics.

Author: Nigel Swan

The knowledge


Model: Ford Mondeo Estate Titanium X
Price: £29,490 (as tested)
Engine: 2.0-litre, turbocharg'd diesel
Power: 161bhp, 340Nm
Max speed: 137mph
0-60mph: 8.7s
Emissions: 119g/km
Mileage this month: 3,043

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