As we congratulate the winners of our 2009 Awards, the big winner of 2008 has left for pastures new.

The Ford Mondeo was last year’s Business Car of the Year and has just completed a 12-month, 10,000-mile stint on our long-term fleet.

The choice of 2.0-litre 140PS diesel engine was a no-brainer on running costs grounds, and we picked a high-spec estate on the advice of then-Ford GB boss Roelant de Waard, who reckoned both the bodystyle and trim level were major growth potential areas with the new model.

We added £3500-worth of options, too, but with mixed success. Metallic paint is almost an automatic choice these days, while the heated and cooled front seats [1] weren’t a massive indulgence at £100. Ditto the £150 tinted privacy glass that kept various staffers’ children cool during our brief summer. The £150 roof rails [2] were something we thought we could have done without until I had to shift an old surfboard from on top of my parent’s garage. Despite the new Mondeo’s increased size, the front seat doesn’t fold forward or back far enough to slide a load the entire length of the car, so it had to make its trip to the tip on the roof.

The adaptive cruise control got mixed reviews. However, overall we prefer the massively cheaper standard system over the expensive radar version fitted to this model. It adjusts the car’s speed according to traffic ahead but leaves too big a gap and is too slow to respond, which are, admittedly, faults it shares with ‘clever’ cruise systems from any manufacturer. At £1000, it’s just not worth the huge expense of fitting it.

The £400 front and rear parking sensors probably paid for themselves in avoided parking scrapes, although they were a little over-sensitive in beeping at large speed bumps or steep junctions, and the Bluetooth system was great until it lost my phone and then refused to ever reconnect (although I never managed to resolve whether car, phone or user error was to blame).

We made three trips to our local Ford dealer, Evans Halshaw in Bexley [3]. The first, 100 miles into car’s tenure, was to find the source of whatever was draining the battery, leaving the car immobile and requiring a visit from the AA [4].

The dealer had the car for four days, didn’t give us any updates and couldn’t find the fault, although they did ask us to tell the AA not to clear the electronic fault code if it happened again. The car hasn’t missed a beat since then, apart from an oil warning light and lost rubber boot stopper, both sorted without fuss under warranty by the dealer.

Evans Halshaw also handled the car’s first service, due at 12 months, and we were impressed with the slick booking-in process, including a text message confirmation. We had to wait too long to both drop off and collect our car, however, and you would have thought that for the £157 of service they could at least have washed it for us, something they also failed to do when the car was in for warranty work.

Fuel economy of 36.6mpg was reasonable given the time we spent in town and carrying plenty of weight in terms of either luggage or people, and compared to rivals the driving experience is second to none. Meanwhile, the car looks at least as fresh as some of its newer rivals too.

It may be handing over its Car of the Year crown, but the Mondeo has spent the past 12 months reaffirming what a great business tool it is.

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