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