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Majors on space, equipment and value - with a little less dynamic verve than we're used to

Our Verdict

Ford Mondeo

Ford's family car is now in its fourth iteration, but is the Mondeo ready to take the fight to a world burgeoning with rivals?

What is it?

This is the all-new Ford Mondeo. The fleet favourite is new from the ground up, sharing most of its architecture and tech with the US-built Fusion saloon. However, the European Mondeo is arriving here a full three years after its American cousin went on sale, due to alterations to production plans.

It also arrives after what we’re told are significant revisions to make it palatable for a European audience. This ‘tailoring’ in Ford-speak includes substantial changes to the chassis, improvements to interior quality, new engine options and additional body styles.

It will go on sale in January as a five-door hatchback and estate. At launch we’ll have the choice of a 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine, in two outputs, plus 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre petrol turbo EcoBoost engines, all allied to either a six-speed manual gearbox or an optional six-speed automatic. There will also be a 2.0-litre petrol-electric hybrid, which will be the only Mondeo available as a four-door saloon. Shortly afterwards, more frugal and more powerful petrol and diesel engines will be added to the line-up, as will an all-wheel drive option.

Later in the year we’ll also have the novelty, for this class anyway, of a 1.0-litre, three-cylinder turbocharged petrol option which will hardly be a fire breather but should be attractive option for anyone paying company car tax – hugely important for most Mondeo clientele.

The Mondeo is the first Ford to use a new integral link rear suspension set-up, although it retains MacPherson struts up front. It’s also the first Mondeo to have electric power-assisted steering that can be adapted to match the adaptive damper system, which can be switched to Comfort, Normal or Sport for the first time.

Inside, it gets the latest generation of Ford’s Sync infotainment system and has a suite of optional safety technology to bring it in line with rivals, including pedestrian detection, lane keeping assist and rear seatbelt airbags.

So it’s an attractive package, but it will have a tough time on its hands. The new Mondeo is arriving late to a party that will shortly include a brand new Volkswagen Passat, a refreshed Vauxhall Insignia with new engines and a revised Peugeot 508.

It is also centre stage in a class that is rapidly declining as private and company buyers alike are finding more favour in SUVs, small premium saloons and increasingly spacious cars from the class below.

What's it like?

This is a car well suited to chewing through large numbers of miles. At motorway speeds it’s impressively quiet, isolating you well from the twin irritations of road and wind noise. The 178bhp 2.0-litre diesel hatchback is hushed even under heavy acceleration, and gives the substantial Mondeo an assertive turn of speed to match near-50mpg real-world economy. The car feels pacey and muscular rather than fast, but for those with an appetite for more performance, a twin-turbocharged 2.0-litre TDCI with 207bhp and 332lb ft launches later in 2015.

Completing the picture is high-speed ride quality that is supple, quiet and well-controlled in any of the three suspension settings offered by the adaptive dampers. Moreso, actually, than most of its more aggressively sprung German rivals. Yes, around town you feel a few more thumps, but again they’re impressively muted. Opt for the standard passive dampers and you'll find the Mondeo comfortable-riding but still pleasingly taut on UK roads; it pulls off that impression of being compliant over long-wave undulations but also controlled when push comes to shove, which Fords have long been renowned for. Other saloons ride more softly over really bad surfaces, which is really the only price to be paid for the Mondeo's relatively sporty damping.  

Predictably, the Mondeo's new-found high-speed plushness has taken a toll elsewhere. Successive Mondeos have lost sharpness and this one doesn't handle with quite the precision or alacrity of the last. In truth you do feel the extra weight, but you also revel in just how such a large car can feel quite so nimble – helped through direct and well-weighted steering. You rarely derive huge enjoyment from pushing the Mondeo hard, which is a shame when you consider its lineage, but credit is due to Ford for producing a fully electromechanical power steering setup with decent consistency and feel, and overall a car that's that little bit more keen-handling than the norm.

The Mondeo's comfort carries through into the cabin. The new touchscreen infotainment system is among the best in the business. Seat comfort, too, is good, as is the fact that it’s feasible to accommodate five six-footers in the cabin and their luggage – one of the main benefits of the new car’s added width.

Great pains have also been taken to improve the quality of all the bits you touch and feel. It’s been a qualified success, with better attention-to-detail than we’ve seen in any Ford before. At the same time, the German premium brands won't be losing much sleep because of this car, and neither will the creators of the new VW Passat. Particularly jarring are the cheap-looking metallic-type plastic surrounding the centre console, the 8in touchscreen multimedia system that quickly gets covered in dirty fingerprints and shows them up in direct sunlight, and the heating and fan controls which are push buttons rather than the easier-to-use rotary knob variety.

Should I buy one?

Most of us are unlikely to be funding a new Mondeo with our own money, so this decision will be partially decided by the monthly contract hire payments and whether you can afford the company car tax. The early signs are that the Mondeo will be good value for fleet drivers, with improved residuals bringing contract hire and lease payments down particularly for high-end Titanium X versions.

Most of the car's long-standing selling points - practicality, usability and plain-old value-for-money - are as strong as ever, while key factors like comfort, refinement and costs of ownership have taken a big leap forward. It's just slightly regrettable that such progress comes at the cost of eroding the Mondeo's biggest distinguising quality: it's sporting handling.

Truth is, a Mazda 6 is probably a more enthusiatic steer than the big Ford now, and for all the Mondeo's newfound maturity, the VW Passat is still a much classier proposition. However, while this may be more comfort-orientated than ever before, be in no doubt that it’s an excellent car.

Ford Mondeo TDCi 180 Titanium

Price £24,245; 0-62mph 8.3sec; Top speed 140mph; Economy 64.2mpg; CO2 115g/km; Kerb weight 1579kg; Engine 4 cyls, 1997cc, turbodiesel; Power 178bhp at 3500rpm; Torque 295lb ft between 2000-2500rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual

Join the debate

Comments
32

7 October 2014
... a really good looking car. Better in that respect IMHO than the latest Passat. That should help it some when it comes to sales. Looks and show room appeal do matter. This Ford appears heading in the right direction from that POW.

7 October 2014
Above all else, it seems like they have got the pricing right. £24k for a high spec Titanium with the high output diesel seems like a very reasonable price given the size of the car and the standard equipment. But I'd really like to know how it rides on passive dampers rather than the adaptive setup on the test car.

7 October 2014
The Aston-Martin-ish front grille suits the larger Fords better, in my opinion. It is also good to see the new Ford interior. As an aside, I like the Porsche-style buttons on the lower centre console.

7 October 2014
Deleted a double post...

7 October 2014
A nice car but, reading the review, I don't see anything that adds up to a 'remarkably good car' mentioned in the headline.

7 October 2014
Bit old hat now, this has been out for ages in the US, and still we have NO real reason why they pushed back the launch by years rather than months

7 October 2014
@jonboy4969- Did you not read that the car was specifically re-engineered for the European market with improve quality all round? The car is looking very good indeed and it would definitely worry the middle German models. I suspect you could be an Insignia salesman? I have one word for you- Redundancy.

7 October 2014
...according to Ford is that they moved the production from Genk in Belgium to Valencia, Spain. Not an easy undertaking. I suspect that it also allowed extra development of the car to 'Europeanise' it too - which is frustrating for buyers but probably has given us a much better car in the long run.

7 October 2014
No idea how Ford get away with ripping off the unique styling feature of another marque.

As for the Mundaneo itself, it's still not interesting to me. Transverse fwd on a 5m long car - get out you cheapskates

-------- 

I'm The Ωmega Man, always talking to myself

7 October 2014
Picture 5 has a BMW GT look about it.
It will drive well and looks pretty good but the Passat is more premium and will probably drive just as well in the real world. Let's be honest who's going to take their diesel company car around the ring to find out?
It'll still sell by the bucket load though..

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