Ford Mondeo 2.0 TDCi 140

Is Ford still unbeatable, even in costly range-topping specification?

  • Although it’s pricey, the Mondeo Titanium X is classy; equipped with Ford’s EasyFuel filler cap.
  • Shiny trim on the centre console detracts from the solidly built dash; try to fill up fuel tank to the brim and excess fuel can leak down out of sight and on to the forecourt.

Size matters to the Mondeo. In an effort to offer maximum practicality, Ford has created a family car as big as an executive saloon. For some, such bulk is a turn-off, yet every inch is put to good use – inside and out. To take on the upmarket Honda, we’re testing a flagship Titanium X. A new 2.2-litre diesel is coming, but the 138bhp 2.0 is a closer match to the Honda’s output.

As the saloon accounts for a tiny five per cent of sales in the UK, we have gone for the more versatile hatchback instead – it’s an option neither the Accord nor the C5 provides.

Even though the Ford is one of only two cars here with 18-inch alloys (the other being the Laguna), its wheels still look relatively small. However, the Mondeo is an attractive model and has yet to become too familiar a sight.

The cabin is trimmed to a high standard, but the design is less cosseting than the Honda’s. At least the Ford is on a par with all but the Citroen when it comes to flair – only the silver trim on the centre console appears a bit cheap.

Unlike the Accord, the Mondeo manages to avoid having too many buttons on the dash, giving it a cleaner, less cluttered look. Its Convers+ system neatly handles many of the key controls in a digital readout, operated by intuitive switches on the steering wheel.

What really appeals here, though, is the space on offer inside. At a generous 800mm, there’s a substantial 40mm more legroom for rear passengers than in the Laguna. The new Honda provides 100mm less than the Ford.

Lift the heavy tailgate, and you are greeted by a massive luggage space, the wide opening giving easy access to a deep load area.

You can’t fold the seats from the boot as you can in the Honda and Mazda – that has to be done from inside the car. All the same, there’s no doubting the practicality on offer.

On the road, the Mondeo provides a real contrast to the Accord. Where the Honda feels smaller than its dimensions suggest, you are constantly aware of the Ford’s sizeable footprint as it cruises over the tarmac.

And that’s no bad thing. It always inspires confidence when cornering, offering great stability and never pushing straight on rather than turning neatly into bends. The perfectly weighted steering also helps to make the five-door a real pleasure to drive on a challenging road.

The Mondeo pulls off the blue oval’s usual trick of all-round great chassis development, as it’s equally at home on the motorway and twisty back routes. On major carriageways, its ability to waft along is a real strength. While occupants are more aware of undulations than they are in the softer Citroen, the Mondeo never floats, thanks to its near-perfect suspension damping.

The diesel isn’t the strongest here, yet it puts in a smooth and refined performance. The car in our pictures has an automatic transmission – an option which hampers pace and is best avoided – but we tested the standard six-speed manual, which provides an accurate feel. Only the shorter-shifting boxes in the Mazda and Honda are more pleasing to use.

Paying £24,910 for a Mondeo – even if it is a top-specification one – is a little hard to stomach, despite all the standard kit. Cheaper variants offer better value for money. But how does the Titanium X stack up in this company?

Details

Price: £22,855Model tested: Mondeo 2.0 TDCi 140 Titanium XChart position: 1WHY: Reigning champ fits family and compact executive classes with its practicality and great handling.

Economy

The Mondeo has combined economy of 47.9mpg, but didn’t hit 40mpg with us. Still, the huge tank gives a 608-mile range.

Residuals

After three years, the Ford is worth 37.6 per cent of its new price – or £8,626. Not the worst here, but nothing to be proud of, either.

Tax

For standard-rate earners, the new Titanium X will cost £1,106 a year. Higher-rate payers have to stump up £2,011. The auto is much more.

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