Ford’s Mondeo is everywhere. Nearly four million have been sold in the past 13 years, so the new car has a huge job to do, keeping sales volume high.Its main task is to take Ford away from cheap-and-cheerful and towards the premium area of the market. Russell Bray assesses the newcomer’s chances
On the basis of a first drive, albeit in the seductively glamourous surroundings of Sardinia and on mainly smooth roads, I reckon that those folk who choose their cars by badge face an interesting time in the office car park over the coming year. Why? Because the previously humble Ford Mondeo has been reincarnated. In one bold move, the Mondeo has regenerated in a change more radical than achieved by any Dr Who.
What used to be a ubiquitous repmobile is now a swanky, stylemobile-about-town. Not only is the new Mondeo, on sale from July, as big as the old company director’s chariot, the Scorpio, it now looks as classy as the new managing director’s Audi, helped by new designer, Britain’s Martin Smith, who used to work, you guessed it, for Audi. Despite prices that start at just £14,995 for the 1.6-litre Edge petrol, and £16,500 for the lead-in 1.8TDCi diesel, the new Mondeo looks sophisticated, sober, classy…Germanic even. The amusing thing about status-seeking motorists in this part of the market is that their desperate urge to be in a BMW 3-Series, even with a poverty specification, means the 3-Series outsells the Mondeo in the UK.
Check a large car park, and the odds are that the Beemer is a more common car than the Ford on account of the huge number of badge snobs driving humble 318i models that cost £20,705. Mondeos, of course, have tended to lose value like a skydiver loses height, but Ford says work with Glass’s and CAP, the car valuation outfits, undertaken in order to design better residual values into the new Mondeo, means it should retain an extra 10 per cent over three years/60,000 miles. Indeed, Ford is confident that new Mondeo residuals will outperform Saab, Toyota and Vauxhall competitors over that period. Years of experience in the real world makes it clear that Mondeos don’t cost much to maintain and don’t break down often, so are a solid buy.
Available in hatchback, estate, and saloon car form, the new Mondeo is a big whack on the hooter for the Mazda 6, Toyota Avensis and Volkswagen Passat. Ford believes it can tempt drivers out of their Audi A4s and BMW 3-Series as the new sexier, classier Ford S-Max MPV has started to do. Looks are massively different, but are only part of the reincarnation. Once you get pushed into overboost for overtaking. That said, with the suspension set to sport, the car is amazingly agile for its size. The normal setting could be relabelled the Goldilocks option – just fine. Comfort mode was rather too soft for my taste, but it’s great to have the choice. Improvements to the diesel engine means it is slightly more economical and produces three per cent less carbon dioxide.
Ford steering is among the best there is these days, and on this model it was lovely, with real precision and no dragging friction. Braking was equally precise, and easy to modulate on the 17-inch diameter wheels. Even on 18-inch wheels with ultra low profile tyres the ride, though tauter, was never harsh. The engine never sounds harsh or ragged, even when using all the power, and at motorway speeds it’s a distant note, while wind noise only becomes noticeable from 90mph. The clutch action was smooth and easy, though a little sticky into first and second despite new, improved synchromesh on low gears. Build quality is much improved, and the interior is posh too, though the steering wheel and dashboard is a bit fancy and over garnished in some versions – even Audi’s S3 cabin is quieter on the eye. Look past the cheap-feeling glove box and sunglasses holder, and the quality is top notch where it really matters. In Ebony (black) trim the car’s interior has a distinctly premium feel, with plush leather, and beautifully detailed stitching.
The test car had a modern techno feel thanks to blue-tinted glass, but privacy glass in dark grey is also available for an even more sinister look. Compared with the outgoing Mondeo, the new car is 60mm wider (120mm with mirrors) and 47mm longer. That makes it slightly longer than a VW Passat, but overall weight has risen only, on average by 25kg. There’s plenty of room, front and rear, for passengers over six feet tall without anyone having to compromise, and the boot is so big you really have to stretch to reach anything which has slid forward under braking – flipping down a backrest, as you would to increase luggage capacity, is the easy answer to such retrieval problems. The Mondeo is offered with technology aimed at making motorists’ lives easier. For a start, there’s a special filler neck so a pal can’t put petrol into your car by mistake.
Other standard features include air conditioning, MP3 socket in the glove box, electronic stability control, and follow-mehome headlights that stay on to light your way from driveway to front door. Options include tyre pressure monitoring, adaptive cruise control that matches the speed of the car to the vehicle in front, and hill start assistance, which holds the car briefly on a slope after you have taken your foot off the brake. So, how to sum up the new Mondeo, based remember, on the experience of driving three cars on foreign roads? Much more dynamic than a Volvo, it feels a cheaper way of going Audi or BMW motoring. It’s almost as if it was a Ford, but built by BMW. And that’s going to cause some consternation in the office car park among all those badge hounds and their ‘bottom of the range’ Beemers. Ford has been scoring well on build quality in recent years in the demanding German TUV tests, and this new Mondeo doesn’t feel likely to blot that copy book. It’s a keen driver’s car, and this time it’s a glamour model rather than a dance hall wallflower.
On sale: From July // Price from: £16,500 //
Main rivals: Mazda 6,Toyota Avensis,Vauxhall Vectra
- Price: £18,400
- Engine: 1,997cc, four-cylinder, turbocharged
- Max Power: 140ps at 4,000 rpm
- Max Torque: 236 lb ft / 250 lb ft (transient boost from 1,750rpm)
- Combined Consumption:47.9mpg
- CO2 Emissions (taxband): D
- 0-62mph: 9.5 secs
- Max speed: 130mph
Standard equipment includes:
Electronic Stability Programme (ESP)
Electronic Brake Assist (EBA)
Ford Easyfuel capless re-fuelling with misfuel inhibitor
Emergency hazard warning lights activation
Power-operated front windows
Power-operated and heated door mirrors
‘Smart’ wipers that automatically switch down one setting at speeds of less than 2km/h
AUX input in glove box
Intelligent Protection System (IPS) with driver knee and full-length side curtain airbags
Active headrests on front seats
Lumbar adjustment on driver’s seat
Front and rear seat armrest
This is another Ford, like the S-Max, that will put an extra shine on the blue oval badge and make buyers feel they are getting a good deal
Not as nimble as the old car, which was smaller, and to some people a Ford can only ever be a Ford