From £19,9958
Small Ecoboost engine never feels overwhelmed, but nor does it sparkle in Mondeo body

What is it?

It’s the Mondeo, the longest passenger car Ford sells in the UK, with a 1.0 EcoBoost three-cylinder petrol engine, the smallest motor Ford sells in the UK.

Less than ideal companions, you might think, what with a kerb weight of 1476kg. There are, however, reasons to fit this 124bhp engine to this large family car – mostly centred around the fact that it returns 55.4mpg on the combined cycle and has a 119g/km CO2 figure. The next most efficient petrol engine in the range is the 158bhp, 1.5-litre four-cylinder unit, with 134g/km.

What's it like?

We’re fond of the Ecoboost engine in Ford’s other cars, but can it hack the Mondeo’s kerb weight? Just about. It helps that it revs extremely smoothly and quietly, with a muted three-pot thrum that’s very appealing. It drives the front wheels through a slick six-speed manual gearbox, so there’s pleasure to be had in working it. Turbo lag is minimal at higher revs. It's worse at low revs, but peak torque is developed from 1400rpm, so you don't have to wait long for it to come on song.

In that way, the 1.0-litre feels not unlike a small-capacity diesel, only better sounding and with a broader rev-band. On paper it can’t match the 78.5mpg of Ford’s most efficient 1.5-litre diesel, and on the road I suspect the gap will be bigger still, such is the way you’ll rev an engine that, even giving its all, can accelerate the Mondeo from 0-62mph in only 12 seconds.

Can you tell it’s a lightweight unit? Not overtly. It’d take better helmsmanship than I can muster to know that this Mondeo was 28kg lighter in the nose than a 1.5 petrol I tried four days previously. It just drives like a Mondeo, although that’s no bad thing at all. In terms of ride flatness, steering accuracy and response, and honed control weights, the Mondeo is best in class.

Where it’s not is inside; a legacy of the One Ford programme that has the Mondeo doing service in markets where interior feel and perceived quality isn’t on a par with Europe’s.

Ford has done what it can for us, but you can’t disguise it completely. Park a Mondeo next to a Volkswagen Passat and pore over both interiors, and you can see why VW thinks the Passat can hold its own among BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Classes. The Mondeo cannot, but it is spacious front and rear, has comfortable seats, a big boot and easy cruising refinement. 

Should I buy one?

Perhaps, but it’d take a specific set of circumstances, mostly financial. In this form the Mondeo starts from under 20 grand, which the aforementioned VW Passat does not. The Mondeo also has an increasingly large model range, through three body styles, including four-wheel drive (although not with this engine) and a diesel with up to 210bhp. There’s likely to be a Mondeo for everyone, then, but the reasons for choosing this variant are less compelling than you’d hope, and will most likely appear on a spreadsheet.

Ford Mondeo 1.0 Zetec

Price £19,995; 0-62mph 12.0sec; Top speed 124mph; Economy 55.4mpg; Co2 119g/km; Kerb weight 1476kg; Engine 3cys in line, 998cc, turbocharged petrol; Power 124bhp at 6000rpm; Torque 125lb ft at 1400-4500rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual

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Matt Prior

Matt Prior
Title: Editor-at-large

Matt is Autocar’s lead features writer and presenter, is the main face of Autocar’s YouTube channel, presents the My Week In Cars podcast and has written his weekly column, Tester’s Notes, since 2013.

Matt is an automotive engineer who has been writing and talking about cars since 1997. He joined Autocar in 2005 as deputy road test editor, prior to which he was road test editor and world rally editor for Channel 4’s automotive website, 4Car. 

Into all things engineering and automotive from any era, Matt is as comfortable regularly contributing to sibling titles Move Electric and Classic & Sports Car as he is writing for Autocar. He has a racing licence, and some malfunctioning classic cars and motorbikes. 

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Gerhard 4 March 2015

I would be intrigued to try this.

Androo made an astute observation that, for all its comparative lack of power, this is still an impressive car and clearly perfectly useable everyday. It is probably more efficient if driven in a sensible manner, and certainly more efficient and less polluting than a 1975 equivalent. With diesel becoming anti-social in urban environments, this sort of engine and car combination is becoming more realistic for fleets and families.
Brian225 11 January 2017

Comparing a 1.0l Mondeo to a 1970's equivilant

I'm not sure what can be gained by comparing a Mondeo to a 1970's car, unless like be you happened to still have a couple in the fleet. I regularly drive the Mondeo and a late 70's Granada, a Corsair and an Executive. The Mondeo has many advantages as well as some fairly major disadvantages.

In Mondeo's favour it almost certainly less polluting, even after adding modern ignition, overdrives and other goodies to the older Cars. It has all manor of driving aids, some can be useful while others can be very distracting. The Mondeo also has side impact bars to protect it in a crash and better front and back protection. All Fords have been good for many years in a crash but the Mondeo is supposed to be better. My only concern with the Mondeo is I'm quite tall and my head seams to sit in the opening of the sunroof and there doesn't seem to be much padding in that area. Only the Corsair doesn't have a collapsible steering system.

The Mondeo also has some major flaws too. The Mondeo is a very heavy car and fuel consumption is alarming under acceleration. Cruising is economical with it's 6 speed gearbox but the 1.0l soon runs out of steam on the hills, not as bad as the horrible 16 valve engines fitted to the Mk1 Mondeo. In the real world, a 1.5l Mondeo auto is lucky to get 40mpg, easily in the scope of a 5 speed 2.0l Granada. I haven't driven the 1.0l Mondeo enough to get a true picture of fuel consumption other than to say it is a pointless waist of money if you want to push it hard.

As for space, the Mondeo has become the biggest passenger car ever sold by Ford in this country, even bigger than the Mk4 Zodiac, but the Mondeo has much less head room than all the other cars in the fleet. The boot is narrow and the deep bumper makes lifting heavy or balky items in more difficult. Poor visibility makes it extremely difficult to park, not helped by the small distorted door mirrors.

The biggest problem for me is poor visibility. There is a hump in the bonnet which makes it difficult, or even impossible, to judge the front of the car. The rear view through the back window is like peering through a letterbox from the other side of the street and the door mirrors are rubbish.

Why do we have Mondeos in the company? Well they are cheap, reliable and easy to replace and service. Repair can be more challenging due to their complexity and difficulty in finding expertise, even from a Ford main dealer, but then doesn't that go for all cars these days. Would I get rid of them for something better if it came along? Yes, they have too many shortcomings and aren't getting any better. We did look at the VW Passat. If only we could have a Rear wheel drive Passat with a Ford Engine and a Mercedes Automatic gearbox.

Sadly ford have never seemed to have a planned direction with the Mondeo like they did with the Cortina and Sierra and have always been trying to fix it. With Ford only expecting to sell 20,000 Mondeos this year, I'm don't think Ford have the will or interest to put it right now! And know, my sales people are not getting there hands on the Granada, Corsair or the Executive

erly5 19 February 2015

Ford are on a slippery slope...

...and really need to up their game. This global policy of one Ford for all markets just ain't working. Once the producer of the best driving cars on the market, this 'new' Mondeo does not bode well for the eventual replacements for the Fiesta and Focus. We already know the forthcoming Ka will reduce what was once a cutting edge design into a nondescript 5 door city car likely to be more a competitor for the Suzuki Celerio than the VW Up!
Gerhard 4 March 2015

You must be joking...

Your comment is so off-the-rails that it can't be taken seriously. Are you being incentivised by one of Ford's competitors, perhaps? One Ford is clearly working, this Mondeo being best value in the segment and a stunning design. The Focus is still top-drawer, as are the Fiesta and the Kuga. The Ka is perfectly capable and the ecosport is improved. You will note that emissions regulations mean every manufacturer is moving to electric steering, so even BMW's handling reputation is thus reduced. This is still the best handling nn-premium d-segment car. Get real!
405line 19 February 2015


How long is that engine gonna to last?