For generations, the Ford Mondeo was considered the sharpest driving car in its class. However, after we drove the all-new model last year, we found it wasn’t as nimble as its predecessor. But what happens when you throw its most powerful diesel and Ford’s PowerShift dual-clutch auto into the mix? We took to the Mondeo Estate to find out.

On the move, the 178bhp 2.0-litre TDCi engine has plenty of shove, and while it never slams you back in your seat, it still builds speed quickly. The optional 19-inch wheels have a habit of tramlining on poorly surfaced roads, but they look great and don’t affect the car’s great high-speed ride or refinement.

The dual-clutch PowerShift gearbox dilutes the performance slightly by hesitating when you ask for a burst of acceleration, but be gentle and it’s easy to make smooth progress. It’s nowhere near as slick as the DSG box in the VW Passat, and while both offer six ratios, the Ford trails on economy, claiming 56.5mpg.

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That means a Benefit in Kind rate of 21 per cent in Ford versus 20 per cent in the equivalent Passat. But it’s good value at £4,045 less than the Passat GT.

On a twisting back road, the steering lacks the pinpoint accuracy of old, too – a by-product of the new Ford’s status as a global car rather than one engineered specifically for Europe.

But the Estate has a sleek profile, and the vast boot offers 500 litres with the seats up, or 1,605 with them folded flat. That’s slightly down on the VW’s, but close to a Mazda 6 Tourer’s. Interior quality is good, yet not a patch on the Passat. The large touchscreen looks great in the centre of the dash, while the digital dials are easy to read.

The Mondeo isn’t as fun to drive as it once was, but feels much more grown- up and is perfectly composed at high speeds. We’d avoid the auto box, and unless you really need the extra muscle, the 148bhp diesel should suffice for most.

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