Ben Griffin reviews the 2015 Ford Mondeo Econetic 1.6-litre Econetic diesel to see if the workhorse can mix it up in the fiercely contested family car market.
The new Mondeo has landed in the UK, having been delayed by two years because of a factory relocation. It comes with a new design, new engines and plenty of extras as standard.
As good as the old car was, choosing it over a BMW 3 Series was like turning down a threesome so you could do your tax return. Has Ford done enough to change that perception and was it worth the wait? There’s only one way to find out.
The 2015 Mondeo’s predecessor was a rival to the VW Passat, Mazda 6 and Skoda Superb. The new car has gone upmarket, meaning it’s dangerously close to the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series. Not only that, it has various crossovers to deal with, like the Nissan Qashqai.
It now has a more purposeful design, with a sleek roofline and various hints borrowed from the new Focus and Fiesta. Its front even does a passable impression of an Aston Martin. You could argue the Jaguar XE and BMW 3 Series are prettier, but the entire package helps undo the stereotype that this is a dull car for salesmen in suits.
“Inside, things are less impressive. The overall design is somewhat bland, particularly when compared to some of its high-end rivals.”Only the measly 16-inch alloys you get with the Zetec trim detract from what Ford was trying to achieve, but spend a few extra quid and you’ll fill those arches nicely.
Inside, things are less impressive. The overall design is somewhat bland, particularly when compared to some of its high end rivals.
That said, the 8-inch Sync 2 infotainment system is packed with features, including the ability to read out text messages and set the climate control, adjust the music or set destinations using voice control. It is occasionally difficult to use, however, offering mixed results, while the touchscreen sometimes feels unresponsive.
It’s a far cry from BMW’s comprehensive iDrive setup and is less intuitive to use, particularly if you’re not tech savvy. Finally, the air con system feels either ineffective or noisy, with no middle ground. Ford could have done better, even if it was clearly trying to keep costs down.
What the new Mondeo lacks in panache it makes up for with practicality. There’s enough head and leg room for the vertically-gifted whether you’re in the front or back seats and the 550-litre boot is plentiful, although the Skoda Superb manages 625 litres.
As gargantuan as the boot is, closing the tailgate is a pain. Our test car’s bootlid refused to shut properly when force was applied (the parcel shelf gets in the way), so we ended up having to pull it down slowly, before pushing it down to latch it. For this reason we’d recommend the electric power tailgate option.
The cabin has a big glove box, cup holders (which are on the small side), door bins lined with soft fabric so things are less likely to get scratched and comfy seats with lots of adjustability.
The option of Park Assist will help those who struggle with perpendicular and parallel parking, but you will have to part with £450 for the privilege on the Zetec trim level. There’s also a ski hatch as standard and you can fold down the rear seats for even more space.
Performance & handling
The Ford Mondeo has a choice of five engines, including a pint-sized one-litre EcoBoost and a hybrid. Our test car had the entry-level 115PS 1.6-litre Duratorq TDCI diesel, which is as exciting as getting your trousers pressed.
“Our test car had the entry-level 115PS 1.6-litre Duratorq TDCI diesel, which is as exciting as getting your trousers pressed.”It’s fair to say this engine is geared more for efficiency than performance. 115PS feels weak for a car this size, while the 270Nm of torque on offer is fairly mediocre by diesel standards, so progress can feel lethargic. First gear is especially gutless.
Once going, however, it is more than fast enough to keep up with traffic, but you will need to rev it hard. Keep your foot planted and it’ll do 0-62mph in 12.1 seconds.
Overall the ride is geared nicely for bumbling around and surviving bad roads, but never makes you want to do much else. The diesel’s lethargic ways certainly won’t encourage you to push the limits of dynamic handling.
The six-speed manual gearbox is smooth and adds a touch of much-needed driver involvement.
Check out the 2.0 Duratorq with 180PS if you fancy getting anywhere in a hurry.
Economy & environment
Where this engine excels is efficiency. Just 94g/km of CO2 is emitted from the exhaust so your VED tax bill will be zero. Indeed, it would make an outstanding choice as a company car due to its emissions band.
Supposedly it can achieve up to 78.5mpg – and on a downhill stretch of motorway with the wind behind you that might happen. We managed 50mpg around town without even trying, which bodes well when claimed fuel economy figures are worryingly inaccurate.
Be warned though; you need to push the diesel harder to make anything other than glacial progress, which could eliminate any potential fuel gains.
Equipment & value
Confusingly, the entry-level Style model is more expensive than the Zetec car by almost £1,100, despite the Zetec coming with more equipment. This is due to the Style model only being available with the more expensive 1.6-litre DuraTorq TDCi engine, while the Zetec’s base engine is the cheaper 1.0-litre three-cylinder unit.
“Confusingly, the entry-level Style model is more expensive than the Zetec car by almost £1,100, despite the Zetec coming with more equipment.”The entry-level Style car comes with a good amount of kit including 16-inch alloys, DAB radio, an alarm, cruise control, dual-zone temperature control, hill launch assist, LED tail lights and emergency assistance, which calls an ambulance for you if you crash.
Our Zetec Mondeo included body coloured bumpers, chrome surrounds on the side windows, folding power door mirrors, quickclear heated front windscreen, speed limiter, front fog lamps, height and lumbar adjust on the passenger seat and a rear ski hatch, all for roughly a grand more.
Unlike some of the Audi and BMW extras, you can vastly improve the equipment for sensible money. Spend £300 and you can have navigation and eight speakers. £175 gets you inflatable rear seatbelts, which are said to vastly improve child safety.
Even with all that, our test car is £23,270. The cheapest BMW 3 Series diesel is £3,000 more, while a bottom-spec diesel Jaguar XE is a smidge under £30,000. Even the VW Passat comes in at £28 grand. Its most direct competitor in terms of pricing is the Vauxhall Insignia, which starts at £16,829.
Besides the inflatable rear seatbelts, which act as airbags designed to spread the impact force over a larger area so your body feels less of it, the new Mondeo can be fitted with adaptive cruise control, pedestrian detection, autonomous braking and other features that can prevent the worst case scenario – or at least help.
It helps the car is 10 per cent stiffer than its predecessor, 25kg lighter and has a long bonnet to act as a crumple zone in a front-on crash. That and a five-star Euro NCAP rating make it a safe car.
Ford SYNC 2, meanwhile, has Emergency Assistance for calling up the emergency services for you in the event of an accident where the fuel pump is deactivated or the airbags are deployed.
There is a great deal to like about the new Mondeo. The looks are vastly improved and there’s so much space in the cabin and boot you’ll feel like you’ve entered into a scene from a Lewis Carroll book. As for gadgets, you get a lot for your money.
Enough has been done to help make this the best Mondeo so far. It’s just the Skoda Superb is, well, superb and the 3 Series would look nicer on the drive. Then there’s the VW Passat, which has a nicer interior and is arguably as smart.
Ultimately the Mondeo is a good choice, but those who want a bit more prestige should look elsewhere.