Ford Mondeo review
The Ford Mondeo feels like an old car now. The dated interior is the biggest giveaway and great dynamics can't make up for poor emissions
It’s the old-stager in the hatchback class, but the Mondeo still has plenty going for it. Ford has consistently refreshed the car, and the last round of updates in 2013 saw the introduction of two new Business Edition models that maximise the amount of equipment you get for your cash.
The Ford Mondeo is available as a hatchback or an estate, with the latter serving up a vast 1,733 litres of space. The Mondeo is fairly well equipped, with the basic Graphite specification coming with air-con and alloy wheels as standard equipment.
Other Ford Mondeo specifications include entry-level Graphite, Zetec Business Edition, Titanium X Business Edition and top-of-the-range Titanium X Sport. Ford has recently taken the opportunity to tweak the Mondeo line-up, adding more equipment and accessories, introducing a new, cheaper entry-level Graphite model and a Titanium X Business model.
The Ford Mondeo is accompanied by a range of frugal diesels, from 1.6 to 2.2 litres, and they all offer excellent fuel economy. Overall though, it has lost the edge to its rival, the Vauxhall Insignia, which received a significant refresh in 2013 so there's a lot resting on an all-new Ford Mondeo, which is due to be released in 2014 and will also be available with both a traditional hybrid and a plug-in hybrid power train. The Ford Mondeo Estate, however, is not expected until 2015, due to the closure of the Ford factory in Belgium.
Our choice: Mondeo 2.0 TDCI (138) Zetec
The Ford Mondeo is a common sight on UK roads, and there’s no mistaking its chunky shape for anything else. It’s taller and wider than close rival, the Vauxhall Insignia, but it’s shorter – and its angular lines contrast with the Insignia’s curves.
While Ford is revising other models in the range with new grilles and lights, the Mondeo (which is due to be replaced in 2014) carries on with a small upper grille and large opening in the bumper. LED running lights have been added. The Mondeo looks better from the rear, where the chunky lines are complemented by distinctive, angular tail-lights.
Unfortunately, Ford’s updates have done little to keep the interior looking fresh. It’s not that the design is particularly unattractive, but the dashboard layout is essentially the same as when the Mondeo was first introduced way back in 2007.
This means a large, flat facia that features plenty of hard plastics, while the shallow climate control knobs are fiddly. The standard sat-nav has a low-resolution screen – although the navigation itself is easy to use – and the red dot-matrix trip computer display that’s set between the dials looks very dated when compared with the likes of Insignia’s widescreen TFT set-up.
Hard plastics are evident throughout the cabin, too, especially on the doors and around the back seats, and the upholstery has a cheap look and feel. Space is on par with the Insignia’s, though.
The Ford Mondeo, despite its size, is a great drive - it offers sharp steering, good body control and a firm but comfortable ride. When the Ford Mondeo was launched in 2007 it helped cement the manufacturer's reputation for making superior cars - and that's because the Mondeo doesn't have any glaringly obvious flaws.
The Mondeo has always led the family car field for entertaining front-wheel-drive handling, and even after all this time on sale, that’s still the case. It feels livelier than the Vauxhall through corners, with sharper turn-in and greater feedback from the steering wheel. There’s less body roll, too, and the Ford is great to drive on a twisty road due to its alert responses.
Granted, Zetec models have slightly stiffer suspension for that sportier feel, but they're still decent to drive and the rest of the Mondeo range generally offers a bump-absorbing, comfortable ride. While the Insignia does a better job of ironing out bumps, the Mondeo is still reasonably comfortable – although there’s more road and engine noise, especially at motorway speeds.
The six-speed transmission has a solid and positive shift that allows you to make the most of the engines' performance.
It appears Mondeo owners are a relatively satisfied bunch, as the Ford came 56th in Driver Power 2013 owner satisfaction survery. When you consider that many examples will have covered high mileages, that’s a good result.
Reliability seems to be a strong point for the big Ford, too. There was a problem with a failing bonnet release cable on early cars, but this issue has since been resolved, and the Mondeo has yet to be recalled.
At launch in 2007, the car was crash tested by Euro NCAP, and achieved a five-star rating. While the current NCAP test is a lot tougher, it’s worth noting that the Mondeo has seven airbags, whereas some rivals have only six.
A £775 Driver Assistance pack adds blind spot and lane departure warnings, plus auto lights and wipers, but Ford’s latest safety kit, such as city braking or road sign recognition, isn’t available. That will be addressed when the all-new Mondeo is launched in 2014.
There's plenty of room in the Ford Mondeo, because with dimensions of 4,784mm long, 1,886mm wide and 1,500mm tall, it certainly is a big car.
The heavy tailgate opens to reveal 540 litres of boot space. That’s 10 litres than in you'll find in Insignia for example, but it can't beat the boot in the Skoda Superb. With rear seats folded, the advantage swings back to the Vauxhall, which has 10 litres more than the Mondeo’s 1,460-litre maximum. The Ford has a larger floor area and narrower boot opening, although the sill is lower.
One advantage the Mondeo has over its rivals is greater storage space. There’s a big glovebox and a deep cubby under the front armrest, and it has large door bins, too. Big windows make the Ford’s interior feel airier than rivals.
Meanwhile, the driver's seat is fully adjustable, as is the steering wheel, which moves for both reach and rake.
Until the new Ford Mondeo arrives, the 2.0 TDCi is the pick of the range when it comes to keeping costs to a minimum. Ford introduced a series of tweaks to this unit at the beginning of 2013, including improved aerodynamics and a revised ECU set up, with the aim of lowering CO2 emissions.
In fact, its emissions have been reduced by up to 10g/km to 119g/km in the hatch and 120g/km in the estate, which is impressive considering the level of performance on offer. The most economical engine, though, is the 113bhp 1.6-litre TDCI ECOnetic, which has stop-start, promises to return 65.7mpg and emits only 112g/km of CO2. As for the petrols, the 1.6 EcoBoost is the most efficient, with a claimed fuel consumption figure of 42.1 and CO2 emissions of 149g/km, which is respectable.
Opting for the 2.0 EcoBoost with a PowerShift automatic gearbox will result in much higher running costs, as it can only manage 37.0mpg and emits a hefty 179g/km of CO2. We'd opt for the manual gearbox as the automatic version further reduces the fuel economy. It's just a shame that none of the Ford Mondeo engines offer emissions that fall below the magic road tax-free 100g/km mark.
Overall, we'd avoid the petrol engines because they offer the worst economy by far. Every Mondeo comes with a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty, plus Ford also offers a series of low-cost servicing deals.
However, as there are so many Mondeos on the second-hand market, residual values are much weaker than the VW Passat or Skoda Superb. Ford plans to introduce a petrol/eletric hybrid version of the new Mondeo when it arrives in 2014 - which will use a 2.0-litre petrol engine and small electric motor and emit less than 99g/km and return at least 65mpg once it goes on sale. However this model does have reduced luggage space due to the huge battery pack stored in the boot.