From £17,850
New Mondeo Econetic combines economy with impressive road manners

What is it?

Like the impressive Focus Econetic below it, the new Ford Mondeo Econetic is the most frugal and lowest carbon-emitting Mondeo you can buy.

Effectively, it’s a 1.8-litre TDCi Zetec model with Michelin Primacy low rolling resistance tyres, a marginally more aerodynamic body, some lower-friction gearbox oil and a slightly more parsimonious engine management system for its 123bhp diesel four-pot.

There are no expensive lithium ion batteries or fancy exhausts catalysts here; Ford’s philosophy of environmental motoring is to make small, affordable and meaningful changes to its cars that will have a large effect on overall emissions. That’s why the Econetic Mondeo only costs £250 more than an identically equipped Zetec. And yet, at 139g/km, it emits no more CO2 than a petrol-powered Nissan Micra.

What’s it like?

First, let’s get mercenary. If you’re a company car driver, this Mondeo will probably save you a little more than its £250 price premium in reduced benefit-in-kind company car tax payments over a typical three-year ownership period, relative to a standard Mondeo 1.8 TDCi Zetec.

If you’re buying privately, it will cost only slightly less to tax over the same period – you’ll only save £30 over three years. Both retail and fleet buyers will reap the rewards of the car’s impressive 53.3mpg economy. This is the only Mondeo capable of putting more than 800 miles between trips to the pump, and judging by our real-world test, if you drive it sensibly, that figure should be eminently achievable.

On the road, and like every other Mondeo, this car also steers incisively and rides fluently. There’s no apparent shortage of grip or rolling refinement resulting from its harder-compound rubber.

Mechanical refinement is good. You get the impression that Ford could have gone much further with its Econetic programme, by throwing out noise, vibration and harshness insulation all over the car, to save weight. But it hasn’t; this car is commendably quiet to ride in, and it isn’t overly long-geared (like the VW Polo Bluemotion) either, which means you don’t feel like you’re paying such a high price in terms of outright performance for your savings in fuel economy and CO2.

This car is no firecracker, mind. With just 123bhp to call on it occasionally feels a little slow on the motorway, so if that’s where you do the majority of your driving, you should think hard about how highly you value that added economy. Still, it’s more than powerful enough to keep pace with the traffic 95 per cent of the rest of time. Ford’s aerodynamic tweaks have even added 2mph to its maximum speed; while a standard five-speed 1.8-litre TDCi Zetec model does 124mph, the Econetic does 126. We appreciate that’s not much to brag about, but it’s something.

Should I buy one?

If you’re a private buyer who simply wants the most frugal Mondeo in the range, absolutely – and if you’re a company car driver, we suspect many of you will have already placed your order.

Cars this commodious rarely come with such modest running costs. The fact that this one in particular offers so many of the Mondeo’s other trademark virtues - comfort, spaciousness, dynamism and good old value for money - makes it a great low-cost family car. It’s appealing whether you’re out to save the planet, or just a bit of cash. And arguably its biggest virtue is that it looks, feels and drives just like an ordinary Mondeo, so choosing one makes you a martyr to absolutely nothing but your own good sense.

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Matt Saunders

Matt Saunders Autocar
Title: Road test editor

As Autocar’s chief car tester and reviewer, it’s Matt’s job to ensure the quality, objectivity, relevance and rigour of the entirety of Autocar’s reviews output, as well contributing a great many detailed road tests, group tests and drive reviews himself.

Matt has been an Autocar staffer since the autumn of 2003, and has been lucky enough to work alongside some of the magazine’s best-known writers and contributors over that time. He served as staff writer, features editor, assistant editor and digital editor, before joining the road test desk in 2011.

Since then he’s driven, measured, lap-timed, figured, and reported on cars as varied as the Bugatti Veyron, Rolls-Royce PhantomTesla RoadsterAriel Hipercar, Tata Nano, McLaren SennaRenault Twizy and Toyota Mirai. Among his wider personal highlights of the job have been covering Sebastien Loeb’s record-breaking run at Pikes Peak in 2013; doing 190mph on derestricted German autobahn in a Brabus Rocket; and driving McLaren’s legendary ‘XP5’ F1 prototype. His own car is a trusty Mazda CX-5.

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Add a comment…
ThwartedEfforts 21 July 2008

Re: Ford Mondeo 1.8 TDCi Econetic

139g/km puts the car in band C, so worse than a bog standard, un-'Econetic' 520d.

Slow news day?

Mini1 19 July 2008

Re: Ford Mondeo 1.8 TDCi Econetic

Ford should make the tweaks standard across the range and make every diesel Mondeo reasonably 'green'. Renault's smallest Laguna Diesel engine emits just 130 g/km, and that isn't even a special model. Ford seem to be weight-saving in the New Fiesta, why not do a bit more in the Mondeo? But they have worked quite hard, I agree. Just a little bit more would be nice.

TegTypeR 19 July 2008

Re: Ford Mondeo 1.8 TDCi Econetic

Impressed that it is pretty much like a standard Mundaneo to drive and only £250 more to purchase. Ford have obviously worked hard. However, possibly not hard enough. If it shed some weight as well and how much lower could the CO2 be?

Starting to make the likes of the Prius look exactly what they are - a con!