FLEXING ITS ECO MUSCLES
Green is motoring’s currently coolest colour, and comes in a wide spectrum of shades. Lots of eco features in a car, from brake regeneration to automatic engine cut-out, add up to a deep, planet-friendly shade of Mother Nature’s favourite hue. Some eco models wear a paler shade, and that is where Ford’s new Mondeo ECOnetic seems to fit in. The 2.0-litre TDCi engine keeps on running in a traffic jam, and the body is largely unadorned with any special aerodynamic add-ons. So the car is only rather modestly green.
If you see a Mondeo ECOnetic sitting at the kerb, there is nothing much to differentiate it from other models in the range. It does not draw attention to its greener alterations. The only clues are a modest air deflector on the tailgate, a discreet little badge on the back and its slightly lowered suspension. Most of the other conscience-soothing features are hidden, like the cleaner airflow underneath the car, low-viscosity oil in the gearbox, and an alteration to the car’s electronic control unit that delivers very slightly less power but improves efficiency. Other changes include low rolling resistance tyres and that little green light, reminding you when to change up a gear, can be a touch annoying, but less so once you adjust your driving to diminish the frequency of its appearance. On the road there’s not much performance penalty for going a little bit green. The engine feels torquey and fluid, and the ride hasn’t suffered from the slight lowering of the suspension. General refinement is very good, and this ECOnetic version handles as well as we’ve come to expect of a Mondeo. A bit more irksome is the lower grip of the low rolling resistance tyres. Their lesser friction design is undoubtedly mpgenhancing, but it means that they don’t cling on quite as tenaciously as standard tyres.
How much fuel do all these subtle little changes save? The official combined mpg figure for the car is 54.3mpg. That may well be rather ambitious. Our test car, driven on a mixed route of country roads, villages and dual carriageway, showed a much more meagre 34.7mpg on its trip computer. The 139g/km CO2 output (so £120 VED) isn’t at all bad, though, for a car this size. Going green is obviously desirable, but in these credit crunched times, what’s the cost? There is a premium of about £600 on this car compared with a standard model, so doing your bit for the environment comes with a penalty that would take quite a while to recoup in lower fuel bills.
RIVALS: PEUGEOT 407 S HDi 110, SKODA SUPERB GREENLINE 1.9 TDI PD
- Engine: 1997cc, 4-cylinder, turbodiesel
- Gearbox: 6-speed manual
- Max Power: 113bhp at 4,000rpm
- Max Torque: 236lb ft at 1,750-2,300rpm
- Max Towing Weight: 1,800kg
- Combined Consumption: 54.3mpg
- CO2 Emissions (taxband): 139g/km (E)
- 0-62mph: 10.9secs
- Max speed: 121mph
- Insurance Group: 7