Ford Mondeo 1.8 TDCi ECOnetic

‘Eco’ version promises green new angle on traditional family saloon

Believe it or not, big isn’t always best. Although practical, large cars usually come with thirstier engines and higher running costs. So the Mondeo ECOnetic is intended to provide the best of both worlds with its 1.8-litre diesel engine, aerodynamic tweaks, higher gearing and low rolling-resistance tyres all designed to make the model more affordable to family buyers.

What these changes can’t do, however, is shrink the Mondeo’s vast dimensions. Incredibly, it’s both longer and wider than the seven-seater S-MAX, so it requires care to thread the hatchback through narrow streets. And it fills a standard parking space, leaving little room for manoeuvre in crowded supermarket car parks.

The sleek bodywork conceals a huge boot, though, and there’s ample room for shopping. The 528-litre load area trumps those of both the Kuga and Focus Estate. If you fold the rear seats the maximum boot length of 1.7 metres is also impressive. Inside, rear legroom is generous, exceeded only by the S-MAX with its sliding bench.

The Mondeo will also be relaxing on any lengthy trip. Thanks to ultra-long gearing, the five-speed ECOnetic is both comfortable and quiet at motorway cruising speeds – only the people carrier produces less noise here. Hit the town, and the Ford is less impressive, as its tall gearing requires constant changes if you don’t want to get left behind in stop-start traffic.

The engine bogs down easily at low revs, and edging out of junctions requires concentration from the driver in order to avoid stalling altogether. However, the trade-off should come at the pumps. Our figure of 37.4mpg was some way short of Ford’s combined-cycle claim of 53.3mpg, but at least buyers can still benefit from the official emissions figures. The ECOnetic produces CO2 at the rate of 139g/km, which is impressive for a car of this size. That’s 10g/km less than the standard model’s output and enough to place the big hatchback in band C for road tax. Even so, its annual bill of £120 is much more than the £35 for the diesel Focus.

Another compromise is that the low rolling-resistance tyres reduce cornering grip, affecting braking performance. The front end lacks the initial bite and outright traction of regular models. It still has sharp steering and a poised chassis, but the fun factor is reduced and the Focus is much more entertaining to drive.

Performance is also slightly blunted. While the Mondeo edged out our Focus from 0-60mph, the more responsive estate was half-a-second faster from 30-70mph. Is that enough to stop the ECOnetic winning here, or will its accommodating cabin see it crowned as the best family Ford?

Details

Price: £18,745Model tested: Mondero Eco 1.8 TDCiChart position: 3WHY: Normal’ family cars have to work hard to get noticed. So can green Mondeo grab new buyers?

Economy

The ECOnetic should have done well in the economy stakes, but in our test it didn’t match the smaller Focus at the pumps. It is the cheapest car here, though, and its reasonable insurance and maintenance bills should make the running costs easier to stomach. Road tax will cost only £120, too, yet the Mondeo’s weak residual values and disappointing fuel consumption leave it trailing. We would rather go for the standard model and save £250.

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