16 September 2014
If a certain French competitor won't mind us nicking one of its old taglines, the new Mondeo is going from strength to strength by adding a 2.2-litre diesel engine to the range. This is very much a flagship model, available only in the top-of-the-range Titanium X and Titanium X Sport trim levels – which means it has to be considered alongside the premium German brands. With prices starting at £25,355, it's getting into Audi A6/BMW 5-Series/Mercedes-Benz E-Class territory. So can this oil-burning Mondeo be considered seriously as a threat to the some of the best cars coming out of Germany?
The Mondeo's new 2.2-litre diesel – also fitted to the Galaxy and S-Max MPVs - generates 172bhp at 3,500rpm and produces 295lb-ft of torque at 1,750rpm, with an additional 14lb-ft available on overboost when required for overtaking manoeuvres. The 0-62mph sprint therefore takes just 8.4 seconds before the car pushes on to a maximum speed of 139mph. For a big car, it can certainly shift. This performance means that we have to start seriously considering whether it’s worth spending the same money on a base model Audi A6, £2K more (before options) for a BMW 5-Series or £4K more for a Mercedes-Benz E-Class. The two latter cars might tickle the fancies of fans of rear-wheel drive, but this flagship Mondeo is a serious rival – and Ford has given the likes of Vauxhall and Honda a lot to think about by taking on the premium manufacturers at their own game.
The Mondeo is a fine driving car, demonstrating that a mass-market car doesn't have to compromise on driving dynamics. The Mondeo has highly accurate steering, its handling is always predictable, and stability and grip levels are excellent. The heavier diesel engine does sometimes make this Mondeo feel a little nose-heavy, but it doesn't make a significant impact on the car's excellent weight distribution or affect its balance. The suspension soaks up ruts and bumps without a trace of pitch or wallow on fast corners: as a passenger, you'd be hard pressed to believe this is a mainstream Ford. The standard suspension set-up is so good that there's really no need for the optional IVDC (Interactive Vehicle Dynamics Control) adaptive set-up, with its Sport, Normal and Comfort modes - the default setting really does have it all covered, without compromising sporty handling, unless you really do prefer a firmer, stiffer ride.
The Mondeo has long proved to be a tough and durable car; for a mass-market vehicle built down to a price, it's well put together and is finished to a high standard. Many of its components have already been used in models such as the Galaxy and S-Max – and also in the latest generations of Volvos (the Swedish carmaker is currently owned by Ford) - so should prove dependable. However, some of the Mondeo’s electronic control systems are new, which makes them an unknown quantity. Ford has also paid greater attention to details such as improving the quality of the exterior paint, and has fitted better plastics and materials in the cabins, where there's been a general upgrade. In terms of reliability, the Mondeo is also improving, with the latest JD Power customer satisfaction survey showing that its previous average mark has warranted upgrading to above average.
Ford's investment in a long list of safety equipment in the new Mondeo has proven to be sound, meaning that it now scores the maximum five-star Euro NCAP rating for occupant crash protection, four stars for child protection and two out of four stars for pedestrian safety. Significantly, these same scores have also been achieved by the Volvo V70, which shares many components with the Mondeo and is built by the Ford-owned Swedish carmaker that arguably has the best reputation in the industry for safety. There’s all the safety equipment you’d expect from a premium car, including a driver's knee airbag, anti-whiplash front head restraints, full-length curtain airbags, Isofix child seat mounting points and seatbelt pre-tensioners. Active safety measures such as stability control and ABS are also standard, and options include adaptive front headlights, bi-xenon headlights, tyre pressure monitoring and adaptive cruise control with hazard warnings.
The current Mondeo is larger than the last generation, especially width-wise: it's now a similar size to the old Scorpio, making it a very roomy car indeed. There's plenty of rear legroom, space for adults to stretch out in the back, and loads of luggage space. At first glance, the estate may look less practical than the previous iteration, thanks to its sloped rear pillar, wraparound glass and fake spoiler effect giving the impression of a raked rear screen. However, in reality there’s a greater load bay capacity - 1,745 litres with the rear seats folded, which is less than an E-Class, but more than a 5-Series Touring. The rear seats fold completely flat, with the bases tumbling forward, and the headrests can remain in place. All the seats are well shaped, supportive (they’re multi-adjustable in higher-spec versions) and low-set, which provides plenty of headroom for all the car’s occupants.
For a car in the large executive saloon/estate segment, running costs won't get any cheaper than this. The Mondeo falls into insurance group 12E, thanks to lower accident repair costs; the official combined fuel consumption for the 2.2-litre diesel is a very respectable 45.6mpg; and CO2 emissions are quoted at 165g/km, putting it in Band D for vehicle excise duty. Ford's main dealer servicing and maintenance costs are lower than average, although many jobs can be carried out by independent garages anyway. However, residual values is the area in which the Mondeo falls down against its premium rivals. Come resale time, used car experts forecast retained values of around 36%, after three years, compared with 51% for an Audi A6 2.0 TDI, 46% for a BMW 525d and 43% for a Mercedes E 220 CDI.
Submitted: 26/03/2009 10:26:51
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