Ford Mondeo 2.0 Ghia

Our 2007 Car of the Year is the family class benchmark

  • Superbly involving to drive but equally impressive in its cruising ability, cabin vastly improved over old model's, largest boot in test with seats up.
  • Load space lags behind Mazda's with seats down, front ashtray is tiny and rather pointless, cabin quality doesn't quite match Passat's, and it is the most sluggish performer here.

It has only been on sale since last summer, but the fourth-generation Mondeo is already changing people’s perception of Ford’s family car. The blue oval wants its hatch to be a viable alternative to more upmarket brands such as VW and even BMW, and is hoping the improved quality will propel the car several rungs up the ladder.

One of the most important decisions Ford made was to dramatically revamp the Mondeo’s looks. The result is the ‘kinetic’ styling that has attracted much attention. We’re using an entry-level Edge model for our pictures – the Ghia version we tested comes with a sportier looking grille, foglights, colour-coded door handles and stylish alloys. It’s not as neat or sporty as the Mazda, but that doesn’t prevent it from having real presence on the road – and it’s helped by its sheer size. It’s nearly as large as a BMW 5-Series and is the longest and widest car on test.

This is good news for passengers, and with the largest wheelbase here, it’s no surprise that the Mondeo has bags of legroom in the back. There’s more shoulder room for three and better headspace, too. Overall it’s the most spacious and comfortable of the three, and it also boasts a huge boot.

Up front, the driving position is excellent, thanks to a low-slung seat and a wide range of reach adjustment on the steering column. The wheel is great to hold, while the metal inserts give it a sporty touch, as does the silver trim on the centre console. Small details, such as the neat circular air vents and soft-touch dash, add to the premium feel, although it can’t quite match the quality of the Passat.

But it’s the driving experience that really stands out. Few rivals in the class can come close to the accomplished and comfortable high-speed cruising ability, or cabin insulation. Considering the Ford and Mazda share the same platform, it’s surprising how different they feel on the move.

Refinement is a Ford strong point, and the Mondeo remains superbly composed in all situations. It corners with minimum fuss, due in part to a body that’s 130 per cent stiffer than its predecessor’s, while the accurate steering inspires confidence. In fact it is incredibly agile, which is even more impressive when you consider that it’s the heaviest car here.

The 2.0-litre petrol engine certainly isn’t the pick of the range, but it’s smooth and quiet, if not particularly powerful. At the test track, the Mondeo was the slowest to complete the 0-60mph sprint in 9.2 seconds, while in-gear performance was also the most sluggish of the three. The Ford is hampered by its lack of torque, with only 185Nm compared to the Passat’s 280Nm. Thanks to the slick gearbox things never become too strained, but overtaking manoeuvres require more forward planning. This doesn’t detract from what is a fine motorway car, though, despite its lack of a sixth gear.

What does soften the blow is the price. At £18,445, the Ford is great value and undercuts the Mazda by around £1,200. It’s not as well equipped as its rival, but still comes with a decent amount of standard kit, including cruise control, a CD changer and multifunction steering wheel. An extra £1,000 for the optional sat-nav is also reasonable compared to most manufacturer prices. But will this be enough to compensate for its lack of power compared to both rivals?

Details

Price: £18,445Model tested: Ford Mondeo 2.0 GhiaChart position: 1WHY: The Mondeo presents a stiff challenge for its rivals, despite being the least powerful car here.

Economy

Thanks to its normally aspirated 2.0-litre engine, the Mondeo proved the most frugal car, with an average of 28.2mpg, in spite of its heavier kerbweight. With its 70-litre tank, it has a range of 434 miles – the best on test.

Residuals

Although the new Mondeo is more desirable than ever, residual values haven’t quite reflected this. After three years, the Ford holds on to 36.4 per cent, which is more than four per cent behind the Passat.

Servicing

Ford only managed a disappointing 25th in our Driver Power 2007 poll, with the poor state of the 781 dealerships coming in for criticism. Yet it scored highly in terms of value – and £565 for three Mondeo services bears this out.

Tax

Thanks to the lowest CO2 output of 189g/km, plus the cheapest list price here, the Mondeo is the best choice for business users. Lower-band owners will pay an annual tax bill of £974 – which is £106 less than for the Mazda.

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