Ford Mondeo: road test
The new Mondeo is more grown-up and refined, but still enjoyable to drive.
What is it?
This is the long-awaited Ford Mondeo. Shifting production from Belgium to Spain has delayed the car’s launch, but the new generation of Ford’s family car is finally on sale.
How safe is it?
There’s a wide range of high-tech safety aids, either fitted as standard or on the list of extras. Euro NCAP rates the car highly, awarding the Mondeo five stars.
Who should buy one?
If you’re looking for a spacious, comfortable and refined family car, the Mondeo fits the bill. It’s a tough rival for the likes of the new Volkswagen Passat.
DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE
Since the first generation launched in 1993, every Mondeo has been able to put a smile on its driver’s face. The new car is no exception.
You’re always aware of the Mondeo’s considerable size (it’s some 90mm longer than the old model) and the steering feels light and offers less feedback than the old car’s, but the Mondeo corners with little lean and bags of grip.
What really impresses is that the new Mondeo retains most of the model’s verve while being considerably more comfortable and refined. Ride comfort is excellent: bumpy roads are smoothed over efficiently but there’s firm control of body movements at high speeds. We’d advise against choosing the optional 19-inch alloys, though, as some of the supple feel on smaller wheels is lost.
The Mondeo is quieter than before as well as riding more smoothly. There’s little wind noise and the engines sound distant and subdued even when accelerating.
Petrol buyers can choose between a 160PS (158bhp) 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol and a 240PS (237bhp) 2.0-litre turbo. Diesel drivers can pick from a 115PS (113bhp) 1.6-litre and a pair of 2.0-litre diesels with 150PS (148bhp) or 180PS (178bhp). There’s also a 187PS (184bhp) hybrid. More engine options along with four-wheel-drive models arrive this spring.
Most Mondeos will be sold to company fleets which strongly favour diesels, so Ford is predicting just one in 20 will be petrol-powered. That’s a shame, as the 160PS petrol is a cracking engine, with strong mid-range shove, plenty of top-end punch, and little more than a murmur from under the bonnet at motorway speeds.
We also drove the 115PS 1.6-litre diesel and the 150PS 2.0-litre. The smaller engine does an adequate job but can feel a little flat at low revs, and it’s worth noting that it’s to be replaced with a new 1.5-litre diesel with lower emissions in the spring. The 150PS diesel is much stronger. It’s no surprise that Ford expects this to be the most popular engine.
SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
Up front, the driver and front seat passenger have lots of room to stretch out and there’s enough adjustment for the seat and steering wheel for drivers of most shapes and sizes to get comfortable. However, while the dash is solidly finished it can’t match the upmarket look and feel of the new Passat’s.
In the back, there’s more than enough legroom for adults to travel in comfort. Thanks to the car’s width, three adults can be accommodated without too much rubbing of elbows.
Go for the hatchback with the standard space-saver spare under the floor, and there’s 541 litres of boot space. That’s not the most generous luggage room in the family car class, but it should be sufficient for most needs. Fold the seats down and that increases to 1,437 litres with the rear seats folded.
Surprisingly, the estate has slightly less luggage room than the hatch with the seats up (500 litres), rising to 1,605 litres with them folded.
There’s a whole host of safety kit available. One of the most innovative features is inflatable rear seat belts (a £175), which expand in an accident to spread the forces applied to a passenger’s body over a greater area, reducing internal injuries. The safety gurus at Euro NCAP have put the Mondeo to the test and it scored the maximum five stars. However, thick rear pillars hamper your vision when reversing.
Even entry-level Studio cars come with an eight-inch touchscreen, Sync 2 (which allows voice control of some functions), 16-inch alloys, cruise control, dual-zone climate control and a digital radio. Additions on Zetec models include a heated front windscreen, electric front and rear windows, front fog lamps and powered folding mirrors. Titanium spec cars have more toys, including 17-inch alloy wheels, sports seats, satellite navigation, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror.
If the official figures can be believed, the Mondeo achieves some pretty spectacular fuel economy. The 1.6-litre diesel hatchback returns 78.5mpg on the combined cycle. Even the 160PS petrol achieves a combined figure of 48.7mpg. Prices start from a competitive £20,795, and used market experts are predicting improved resale values. Every Mondeo comes with a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty. That’s a common length of cover but Hyundai, Kia and Toyota all offer much longer warranties.
WE SAY The new Mondeo is more grown-up and refined, but still enjoyable to drive.
AT A GLANCE:
Price: £22,545 as tested
Performance: 0-60mph in 9.4 seconds
Economy: 68.9mpg combined
Insurance: Group 23E
Tax: Band B (£0 first year)
(Figures for the 2.0 TDCi 150PS Econetic Titanium hatchback)