Ford Mondeo 2.2 TDCi Titanium X

Our class champion continues to make a very strong case for itself

Before the Insignia can consider staking a claim to the spoils in the large family car sector, it has to overcome one very large obstacle: the Ford Mondeo.Ever since it hit UK roads just over a year ago, the big Ford has been difficult to beat. It has notched up a string of Auto Express group test victories, and scooped our prestigious Car of the Year award in 2007. With its blend of sharp driving dynamics, a spacious cabin, solid build and generous standard kit, the Mondeo demands very few compromises of the family car buyer.

If the new Vauxhall is going to snatch class honours, then it needs to find a chink in the Mondeo’s comprehensive suit of armour.

First impressions are favourable for the Ford. While it lacks the flowing lines of the Insignia and neat detailing of the Honda, there’s no doubting the Mondeo’s road presence. The prominent grille, chunky wheelarches and standard 18-inch alloys all help give it a powerful stance. Climb aboard, and it’s immediately clear the Ford has the space race sewn up. Occupants in the rear are particularly well catered for, benefiting from more head and legroom than either rival here can muster.

Open up the tailgate, and the Mondeo extends its advantage. Our test car was a hatchback and served up 528 litres of carrying capacity when the rear bench was in place – a difference of 38 litres over the four-door Vauxhall. Pick the saloon version of the Ford, and you’ll have 535 litres at your disposal.

However, while the Insignia has to concede first place to the blue oval for practicality, it has the upper hand for cabin quality. The Ford is solidly screwed together, but some of the plastics feel cheap and the switchgear lacks the mechanical precision of that in the Vauxhall and Honda. It’s also worth noting that sat-nav will set you back £1,200 here – it’s standard on the Insignia.

In fact, the Mondeo will be harder on your wallet from the outset. At £24,595, the 2.2-litre TDCi Titanium X is a significant £1,060 more than the Insignia. If you pick the 2.0-litre version of the Ford, then the price reduces to £23,595 – but so does engine power, and an output of 138bhp is 20bhp less than the Vauxhall offers.

Stick with the 173bhp 2.2-litre model, and there’s no denying the higher price buys you a performance advantage. With its refined powerplant, the Mondeo was dominant at the track, particularly during our in-gear acceleration assessments. It took only 8.7 seconds to accelerate from 50-70mph in sixth, leaving the Vauxhall trailing by nearly two seconds. Keen drivers will also appreciate the Ford’s ability to entertain through a series of challenging corners. Sharp turn-in, direct steering and superb body control give the car great agility, and help disguise its hefty 1,613kg kerbweight.

There’s no denying that the Mondeo is still a class act. But is its reign as champion at an end in the face of the accomplished new Vauxhall?

Details

Price: £24,595Model tested: Ford Mondeo 2.2 TDCi Titanium XWHY: A winning mix of space and agility means the Mondeo is unbeaten by its rivals.

Economy

The biggest stumbling block for potential buyers will be the high price of our range-topping 2.2-litre Mondeo. At £24,595, it’s £1,060 more than the Insignia. Plump for the 2.0 TDCi and the two cars are more closely matched – although both are still undercut by the Honda. After three years, the Titanium X will have retained only 32.6 per cent of its value – the lowest of our trio. But while its 38.7mpg was the worst on test, it is partly offset by the car’s strong performance. Low servicing costs and the big dealer network also make ownership easy.

Environment

The lowest official CO2 in this group is impressive, while the real-world economy of its hi-tech diesel powerplant also lived up to expectations.

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