Ford Mondeo review
A long time coming, the new Ford Mondeo is a much more refined and mature-feeling product, but some of the handling magic has also been lost
The new Ford Mondeo has been a long time coming. It went on sale in the US way back in 2013, but due to production constraints and the relocation of Ford’s Gent factory to Valencia in Spain, European buyers have had to wait a little longer.
However, all models are now on sale in the UK, including conventional five-door hatchback and estate versions as well as a Hybrid-only four-door saloon. It’s part of the brand’s ‘One Ford’ philosophy, meaning it’ll be sold largely unchanged all around the world.
Joining the market at a crucial time for the large family car segment, the new Mondeo not only has to take on established rivals such as the Mazda 6 and Skoda Superb, but also Volkswagen’s brand-new Passat.
With its upmarket new interior and high quality plastics, the new Mondeo is arguably pitched at an altogether different market to the outgoing car. Threats from premium competitors like the Audi A4, BMW 3-Series and Mercedes C-Class, are ever present, as are those from the continual onslaught of trendier family crossovers. It’s fair to say the Mondeo’s job has never been harder.
The Mondeo offers petrol, diesel and petrol-electric hybrid drivetrains, a choice of six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmissions, and a focus more towards the comfort and safety and of the spectrum where once the Mondeo was an out-and-out driver’s choice.
The usual Ford range tiers apply – the entry level Mondeo is the Style, then Zetec, while Titanium and Titanium X version top the tree. The new luxurious £30k Vignale model has also arrived, which takes comfort and refinement up a notch – but at a price. It gets a full leather interior, bespoke seats and is also available as an estate.
Our choice: Ford Mondeo Estate 1.5 EcoBoost manual Titanium
While the Mondeo is undoubtedly still recognisable and a Mondeo, Ford has put a fresh spin on the humdrum rep-mobile to help the all-new model stand out from the crowd. The styling was first seen on the US-market Ford Fusion back at the 2012 Detroit Motor Show, but production delays cause by the global recession pushed back the car’s European launch.
The front is similar to the Focus and Fiesta’s facelifts complete with the Aston Martin-style grille, while the rear is similar in shape to the old car, but cleaner in its detailing. The shape looks more aerodynamic, thanks to that arching roofline, and it is. Ford claims the new shape, active grille shutters and underbody panels contribute to a 10 per cent reduction in drag.
Inside, the Mondeo is not only a major improvement over the fussily-styled old car, but over the US-spec Fusion too. Sober materials give a more mature and premium look and feel, and the American version’s touch-sensitive climate control panel has been ditched for a far-more user-friendly physical button set-up. You still get a large cetral touchscreen for things like the radio and sat-nav, but climate control and heated seats are now controlled via more conventional plastic buttons.
The range-topping Vignale version adds chrome detailing on the outside, unique alloys and a bespoke leather dash. It certainly more plush than the standard model but not enough to compete with the likes of the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class where the Vignale is competing at this price point.
Thanks to the fact this new Mondeo is part of Ford’s ‘One Ford’ philosophy, more emphasis has been placed on ride comfort and interior quality than the way the car drives. Where the old car was the sharpest steer in this class, the new one is softer and less focused.
That said, the Mondeo is a far more refined prospect than before. It’s still enjoyable to drive, but not as superlatively so as the old car, nor as much as the class-leader, Mazda’s enjoyable 6.
A massive engine range will blossom in the Mondeo family over the next year, but for now the main choice is between a range of 2.0-litre turbodiesels, a 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol, and the petrol-electric saloon-only Hybrid.
The Hybrid will only make up a handful of UK sales. Despite being good for 99g/km of CO2, its increased weight blunts handling, while the whiney CVT transmissions screams under hard acceleration.
Though diesel Mondeos will make up over 60 per cent of sales due to more fleet-friendly emissions levels, the 1.5-litre petrol EcoBoost impressed us when we drove it in the UK. It doesn’t have a major hit of low-down torque, but it revs very cleanly, sounds rather rorty and is supremely quiet at a cruise. The higher-powered 2.0-litre TDCi doesn’t feel that fast, so for diesel fans we’d recommend the slightly slower 148bhp version or wait for the more economical 1.6-litre TDCi due this year.
Engine highlights on the way include a 240bhp petrol Mondeo (which won’t be badged as ‘ST’ despite having hot hatch performance) and a 1.0-litre three-cylinder EcoBoost that marks the biggest challenge yet for Ford’s dinky downsized engine.
Ford has work to do here, as you told us in the Auto Express 2014 Driver Power survey where Ford finished a lowly 25th out of 33 carmakers, below VW, Nissan, Renault and Peugeot - some major competitors. The Mondeo’s new engines will yet need time to prove themselves before we can provide definitive data on whether or not the new Mondeo will turn the tide for Ford’s disappointing recent reputation.
The Mondeo makes a better showing for safety tech, though. Available safety features include automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection and, for £175, rear seatbelt airbags which inflate in an impact to decrease load on the passenger’s body. The car is yet to be tested by Euro NCAP, but with a plethora of passive and active safety systems on board, plus a stiffer now body structure, Ford will be targeting the ultimate five-star rating.
The new Mondeo’s rakish looks don’t compromise its interior function. There’s space for five, and in the standard hatchback a whopping 550-litre boot, which expands to 1,446 litres with the seats down. The estate has slightly less seats-up room, with 525 litres, but has the larger seats-down capacity with 1,630 litres. The boxier shape should prove more practical day-to-day, too.
Meanwhile the Hybrid disappoints – it only has 383 litres on bootspace due to the battery pack eating up space and the seats cannot be folded away. It’s a shame the batteries couldn’t have been hidden under the floor, really.
Inside, a deep centre armrest, big cupholders and extra space behind the floating centre console mean oddment storage in the cabin is a Mondeo strong suit.
The Hybrid Mondeo is the only current version to offer CO2 emissions below 100g/km, but its claimed fuel economy of 67.3mpg isn’t the best of the Mondeo range.
Right now, the best of the bunch is the 2.0-litre TDCi, which scores up to 69.9mpg. Next year’s 1.0-litre EcoBoost has less wildly optimistic claims than the rest of Ford’s three-cylinder range, with a combined figure of 55.4mpg. The six-speed automatic gearbox is more harmful to mpg and CO2 emissions than VW’s DSG gearbox, too.
Ford is only predicting 20,000 annual Mondeo sales – the car used to shift 100,000 units – but even so, residuals aren’t likely to be as strong as the VW Passat’s due to the perceived badge value.
As for the Vignale, there is little appeal for private buyers, however, for the heavily dominated fleet market – where roughly 70 per cent of Mondeo sales end up – the small increment in monthly tax payments makes the Vignale an attractive proposition.