The Ford Mondeo has lots much of its appeal over the years. Previously seen as the transport of the average working man, the Mondeo’s once dominant position in the family car marketplace has been eroded by the upward rise of premium brands.
The BMW 3 Series now sells more examples in the UK than Ford’s Mondeo. That makes the Mondeo the alternative choice today. Hatchback or estate, and offered with a variety of engines it remains a hugely admirable car, that’s long been the benchmark against its mainstream rivals.
The current Mondeo has been around for a while now, and there’s no denying it’s beginning to look a little dull next to its newer rivals. Higher trim levels help with larger alloy wheels, additional chrome and more assertive grilles and lights, but the Mondeo in its current guise will soon be passed over by an all-new model in 2013. Inside it’s much the same, the dash and instrumentation are uncluttered and sensibly positioned but lack the flair and quality of fit and finish of Ford’s newer models.
The Mondeo's always been big -- just try getting it into a supermarket-sized parking bay and you’ll realise just how vast it is. The Mondeo’s scale might make parking troublesome, but it does make for a spacious interior. There’s good head and legroom front and rear -- certainly better than that of the premium machines that outsell it -- so if you’ve gangly children or need to carry colleagues in the back regularly, they’ll appreciate it. The boot is vast; enough for a load of carpet samples and a set of golf clubs or two. If ultimate carrying capacity is required then the estate is worth considering, as it’s absolutely gargantuan.
Performance & handling
There are petrol engines, some turbocharged, but greater CO2 emissions and less impressive fuel consumption stats mean diesels are king here. Rightfully so, whether you’ve a junior employee 1.6-litre, middling rank 2.0-litre or early management 2.2-litre TDCI under your bonnet then you’ll not be left wanting with torque-rich delivery making for easy--- if not fireball quick in the 1.6 TDCi -- motoring.
It matters little what’s under the Mondeo’s bonnet as Ford’s big family car has long been a driver’s delight, with quick, precise steering that’s got some feel and finely judged, supple suspension. It handles very well as a result, delivering the driver enjoyment that’s surprising given the Mondeo’s rather ordinary and mainstream positioning. The Mondeo has always been an entertaining drive, and age has done little to lessen that.
Economy & environment
With its core fleet business audience and the associated tax penalties that go with high emissions the Mondeo delivers its performance in as planet-friendly a means as possible. Best of the wide bunch is the 1.6 TDCi Eco, which thanks to the adoption of start-stop and energy recuperation systems delivers a scarcely believable 65.7mpg on the official combined cycle. Don’t expect to ever get that on the road unless you’re ridiculously saintly with the accelerator, but the 1.6 TDCi Eco’s 114g/km CO2 emissions puts it in Vehicle Excise Duty band C, which will keep your tax bill sensible.
Equipment & value
In a straight head-to-head desirability fight the Mondeo is always going to lose to its key BMW 3 Series and Audi A4 rivals. That means Ford throws more equipment in as standard to entice you into buying it over its posh German competition. At the very least the Mondeo comes with air conditioning, cruise control Bluetooth telephone connection. At the other end of the spectrum Titanium X specification is fully loaded with pretty much everything you can imagine. Value is an issue though, as the Mondeo isn’t that cheap, and its residual value is relatively poor so it’ll cost you when you come to sell it.
The Mondeo’s size undoubtedly helps it in any accident, as does its numerous airbags and occupant restraint systems. Standard ESP, ABS and the car’s inherent balance and fine handling should help you avoid an accident in the first place. Euro NCAP tests give it a 5 star adult occupant rating, though its age does mean it’s not likely to be quite as safe as its very latest rivals.
The Mondeo is something of a dying breed given the onslaught of premium badged competition. It fights valiantly against such foes, but for all its fine-driving ability, space and comfort it’s difficult to recommend in the face of such impressive, prestigious rivals. Take into account the poor residual values and any equipment and cost benefits at purchase are quickly negated. While an all-new Mondeo is being readied at the moment its difficult to see how it’ll compete in the now brand obsessed marketplace it once called its own.
Model tested: Ford Mondeo 1.6 TDCi Eco
Engine: 1.6-litre diesel
Acceleration: 0-62 in 11.9 seconds
Top speed: 118mph
Emissions: 114g/km CO2