Ford Mondeo review
The Ford Mondeo is still one of the best family cars on sale, as it's fun to drive and very spacious
Even though it’s been around since 2007, this fourth-generation Ford Mondeo is still one of the best large family cars you can buy. It offers smart styling, a wide range of engines and masses of space for passengers and luggage, plus it’s great fun to drive on twisty roads. In fact, it beats the Vauxhall Insignia in pretty much every way, although it can’t quite match the VW Passat or Skoda Superb for quality or residual values. The Mondeo Saloon was dropped from the UK line-up in 2010, but it is still available as a hatchback and an Estate, with the latter serving up a vast 1,733 litres of space. An all-new Mondeo was revealed at the Detroit Motor Show in January 2012, and gets a dramatic new look, a hi-tech cabin and a range of efficient engines. But while it was due to go on sale in the UK this year, its release date has since been delayed until late 2014 with the closure of the manufacturer’s factory in Belgium. This means that the all-new Mondeo Estate is not expected to arrive until 2015. However, Ford has taken the opportunity to tweak the existing Mondeo line-up, adding more equipment and introducing a new cheaper entry-level Graphite model as well as a Titanium X Business model. The 2.0 TDCi engine has also been reengineered for improved economy, which means it now emits 119g/km in the hatch and 120g/km in the Estate.
Our choice: Mondeo 2.0 TDCI (138) Zetec
Although it’s starting to show its age, the Ford Mondeo is still a great looking car. It was given a mid-life facelift in 2010, with a reshaped bonnet and grille, while top-spec models received attractive new LED daytime running lights. The changes to the interior were equally subtle, with the biggest focus on increasing the quality of materials. The cabin is well laid out and easy to navigate, although it has started to look a bit dated, especially when compared to newer rivals like the Volkswagen Passat and Vauxhall Insignia. There’s a choice of five specifications – Graphite, Edge, Zetec Business Edition, Titanium X Business Edition and Titanium X Sport – and all come with a decent haul of kit. Entry-level Graphite models come fitted with 17-inch alloys, LED Daytime running lights, air-con, front fog lights and Bluetooth, while Zetec Business Edition adds a touchscreen sat-nav, privacy glass and parking sensors. Higher up the range, Titanium X Business Edition cars come with leather upholstery, a start button and DAB radio, as well as the manufacturer’s hi-tech Park Assist system, which parallel parks the car for you. Top-of-the-range Titanium X Sport models get sports suspension, Bi-Xenon lights, massive 19-inch alloys, leather seats with red stitching and a sporty bodykit.
Despite its size, the Ford Mondeo is a great car to drive. Whereas a VW Passat is solid but ultimately uninvolving, the Mondeo offers sharp steering, great body control, a firm yet comfortable ride and surprising agility. Mid-range Zetec models have slightly stiffer suspension for a sportier feel, but they still ride really well. As for petrol engines, it’s best to avoid the underpowered 1.6-litre petrol engine and go for one of the sporty but frugal 1.6 and 2.0-litre turbocharged EcoBoost units. But the diesels will be best for most buyers, and we’d go for the 138bhp 2.0-litre TDCI over the more expensive 161bhp unit, as it offers the best mix of economy and performance.
Ford hasn’t had the greatest reputation when it comes to reliability of late, and it finished 25th out of the 30 in the 2012 Driver Power survey. That said, the Mondeo finished an impressive 33rd in the Top 100, with an overall score of 86.19 per cent. Build quality is good but owners have highlighted problems with its higher than expected servicing and parts costs, while Ford’s huge network of 700-plus UK dealers finished 26th out of 30 manufactures in the same survey. As for safety, the Mondeo has a full five-star crash test rating from Euro NCAP. It was tested back in 2007 - before the new rules were introduced in 2009, which means it doesn’t have a percentage rating, and hasn’t been rated for safety assist. However, with a score of five out of five for adult occupant protection and four stars for child protection, it should prove to be a very safe car indeed. Standard safety kit includes electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, brake lights that flash under heavy braking and a total of seven airbags.
With dimensions of 4,784mm long, 1,886mm wide and 1,500mm tall, the Mondeo is a big car. You won’t be surprised to hear that there’s plenty of room for five adults and their luggage, but you’ll be amazed by the amount of legroom on offer. Three six-foot adults will be able to stretch out in comfort in the back seats, while plenty of seat adjustment and a steering wheel that adjusts for reach and rake means the driver will be just as happy. The 528-litre boot might not be class leading - it’s larger than the Insignia’s and slightly smaller than the Superb’s - but it’s more than enough for most families’ needs. The wide hatchback opening makes it easy to load, too. Folding the rear seats increases this figure to a total of 1,448 litres. However, if you do need more space, the Estate serves up 542 litres and a vast 1,733 litres with the rear seats folded.
Until the new 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 114g/km of CO2. As for the petrols, the 1.6 EcoBoost is the most efficient, with a claimed fuel consumption figure of 42.0 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. 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 much weaker than the VW Passat or Skoda Superb.