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Ford Mondeo Hybrid first drive review

Ford is continuing its eco-friendly attack on Europe with a slew of hybrid models, the latest being the Mondeo Hybrid. invited us out to Frankfurt for an early road test review and we obliged.

This five-door saloon is virtually the same car as its petrol and diesel brothers, but combines its own petrol engine with an electric motor and a small battery in an effort to reduce nasty CO2 emissions and increase fuel economy.

Two versions are planned for release in 2014, the Mondeo Hybrid, which works a bit like a standard Prius, and the Mondeo Energi, a plug-in hybrid you can optionally recharge from an ordinary electrical outlet.

This review concerns the standard Mondeo Hybrid.

So what powers the Mondeo Hybrid?

The Mondeo Hybrid uses a combination of a 2.0-litre 141bhp Atkinson cycle four-cylinder petrol engine and a 118bhp electric motor. They’ll only ever conspire to produce a maximum net figure of 188bhp, however.

Its 1.8kWh battery pack is tiny compared to the 7.6kWh unit in the Mondeo Energi.Unlike its Mondeo Energi cousin, the Mondeo Hybrid is designed to predominantly run on petrol power, with electric assistance only kicking in when slowly pulling away, gently coasting, or when you mash the pedal for full thrust. As such, its lithium-ion battery pack is a relatively small 1.8kWh – tiny compared to the 7.6kWh unit in the Mondeo Energi plug-in hybrid. It’s absolutely dwarfed by the 20-odd-kWh units in battery electric cars like the Nissan Leaf.

So it has different driving modes?

Yup. The automatic ‘D’ setting is the mode that’ll get the most use. Here, the Mondeo Hybrid will jump between the electric motor and petrol engine or use a combination of both, depending on the prevailing conditions or what you ask of it. There is an EV-only mode that forces the car to drive on whatever battery power you have left, but because the battery is so small, we wouldn’t count on getting much use out of this feature – certainly no more than a couple of miles if you’re lucky.

The Mondeo Hybrid also has a low gear mode, marked “L” on the transmission selector. This increases the effect of the car’s regenerative braking, forcing it to harvest more electricity than normal from the brakes. You’re better off using this sparingly, when you’re rolling down hills for example.

So how fuel efficient is the Mondeo Hybrid?

The Mondeo is not exactly frugal. Ford says you can expect around 62mpg, but that’s not much to get excited about. Even the 1.6-litre diesel Mondeo gets 65.7mpg. Rival hybrids such as the Prius get over 72mpg.

Ford says you can expect around 62mpg, but that’s not much to get excited about.Owners do have the option of driving the Mondeo Hybrid in all-electric mode, but we wouldn’t count on this feature. The car’s small 1.8kWh battery has a range of “less than 10 miles” according to Ford, but that’s only to be expected if it’s fully charged. The Mondeo Hybrid has no plug-in capability, so the only way to ensure its battery is topped up is to drive it on petrol power and hope for the best.

The Mondeo Hybrid’s economy figures are even more disappointing in the real world. Driving around Frankfurt, Germany, we averaged around 37mpg. We could have coaxed more out of it, but we’d probably have annoyed our fellow motorists (and bored ourselves to tears) in the process.

Ford says the Mondeo Hybrid emits CO2 emissions of less than 100g/km, making it a decent option for company car buyers. This compares favourably with every other current Mondeo on the market, the greenest of which, the 1.6TDCi Eco diesel with Stop/Start, emits 112g/km.

What about practicality and features?

Peel away the hybrid gubbins and you are left with a standard new Mondeo, which is mostly a good thing. It’s very comfortable and rear legroom will be fine for most. Headroom is plentiful, too, and there are enough cubby holes and storage areas. Its lithium-ion battery only eats up a small portion of boot space, but a small ridge makes it slightly awkward to load some items.

There’s lots of tech, too. Collision detection, Adaptive Cruise Control, air conditioning, blind spot detection, lane departure warning, park assist – it’s all here if your’e willing to pay for it.

How does the Mondeo Hybrid drive?

We suspect it would struggle to impress on the UK’s potholed roads.A little like the standard Mondeo, actually. The steering is remarkably light, making the car feel smaller and less bulky than it actually is. It rides smoothly, although Germany’s roads aren’t much of a test, and soaks up most bumps without being wallowly. We suspect, however, that our test car would struggle to impress here in the UK, where roads tend to be less well-maintained.

Acceleration is good. There’s plenty of torque to help you merge onto motorways without risking life and limb, and it’ll do 0-62mph in 8.5 seconds, although you can expect your fuel efficiency figure to plummet if you drive it like you rented it.

The Mondeo Hybrid is far more at home being driven gently. It even dishes out virtual leaves on its instrument display as reward for nursing it along. Some may get a twisted sense of satisfaction from this, but it’s all a bit dull and clinical for our liking.

How much will the Mondeo Hybrid cost?

Prices start at US$27,200 in the US. A UK price is yet to be announced, but if it’s any more than £20,000 it’ll struggle to compete with the cheaper, more economical Prius. Toyota’s baby costs a mere £21,064 and is better in many respects.

When can I buy it?

Ford is yet to give an exact release date but the Mondeo Hybrid will go on sale sometime in 2014. An estate version has reportedly been put back until 2015.

Outlook

If Ford prices the Mondeo Hybrid competitively, then it might be an interesting proposition, particularly for fleet customers. If it’s significantly more expensive than the best diesel in the Mondeo range (and the signs are that it will be) then we fail to see the point. There are plenty of other hybrids, not to mention countless diesels, that offer better economy, similar or better emissions for less money.

Key Specs

Model tested: Ford Mondeo Hybrid
Engine: 2.0-litre petrol engine and electric motor
Power: 143bhp
Economy: 62mpg
Emissions: 99g/km CO2
Price: TBA
Score:

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