Ford Mondeo

Ford's entry-level Mondeo offers the same space, but does it have the billing of its flagship brothers?

Overall Auto Express Rating

5.0 out of 5

Peel back the chrome finish, go without the gadgets and drop the fancy wheels, and what are you left with? In this case, a highly capable family car. The price of Ford’s entry-level Mondeo seems at odds with its sheer size and on-road abilities. Even without the most desirable trim, it proves to be a fine all-rounder with great long-distance cruising ability and the kind of handling that made the outgoing model so popular. Residual values will suffer without alloys and some other luxuries but, for sheer value, the Mondeo is a top choice in any trim.

Earning the title of Auto Express Car of the Year 2007 is no mean feat. The Ford Mondeo has proved a great all-rounder – but what if you can’t afford a glitzy range-topping model?

To scoop first place, the blue oval’s new family star went through rigorous testing both on the road and the track with a range of engines and trims. How­ever, the models pictured in our New Car Honours had bells and whistles not everyone can afford.

Only now the first reviews have been completed has Ford started to produce basic, bread-and-butter versions of the Mondeo. We drove an entry-level variant to see if it lives up to the billing of its flagship brothers.

Visually, the Mondeo Edge has been pared back to basics. A new car without alloy wheels is rare, but here it is. Neat hubcaps help disguise the basic rims – although nothing can hide their tiny dimensions.

The new Mondeo is enormous – at 96mm longer and 120mm wider than its predecessor, it’s not far off a BMW 5-Series. And one criticism levelled at it is that some of the exterior details are too fussy. Not so in Edge trim, which has less chrome.

This car does without the keyless entry system of higher-spec models, so you press the standard fob remote, pull the black plastic door handle and climb inside. Everything has a simple look, from the plain door trims to the audio system. Crucially, build quality still seems first class, and standard equipment is more than acceptable.

Knowing this Mondeo is going to spend most of its life on the motorway, Ford has included cruise control, along with air-conditioning. Only the manual window winders in the back and the five-speed gearbox might make you wish for the more costly models. But practicality is unaffected, and there is plenty of space for passengers front and rear, as well as an enormous luggage area.

Our car had Ford’s 143bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine. It’s a smooth unit, and although it won’t win any races, it has the right amount of perfor­mance for a mainstream family model. Diesels are more efficient, but only high-mileage drivers will be able to justify the £1,200 premium for the punchy 2.0 TDCi.

More impressive is the chassis. Even without the Interactive Vehicle Dyna­mics Control electronic dampers seen on the top-spec models, the ride and handling balance is superb.

There are no Sport and Comfort options, but these aren’t really necessary. Bumps are soaked up in town and on the motorway, while twisty roads are tackled with the agility of a supermini. And what’s more, despite all its advancements, Ford claims the new Mondeo costs on average £300 less than the outgoing car. At £16,195, the variant driven here could even tempt buyers out of smaller rivals.

So does Mondeo ownership get any cheaper? At the bottom of the range is a 108bhp 1.6-litre Edge for £14,995, but we reckon this would feel underpowered. The 123bhp 1.6-litre, which costs £15,695, would be better.

A word of warning, though. Buy any Edge without opting for metallic paint and alloy wheels, and you will be sorry when you come to sell it on – as these are key factors in determin­ing a family car’s resale value. Never­theless, this base model is sure to earn its place at the top of the family car charts – proving every Mondeo in the new range is a winner.Rival: Citroen C5It's the king of space-per-pound family motoring, and the bigger next-generation C5 arrives in 2008 with a new look. Expect cashback deals and special offers, too.

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