From £31,690
With the Mondeo’s end in sight, we welcome a hybrid wagon for one last hurrah
30 November 2021

Why we’re running it: To see if the Ford stalwart is still fit for purpose in its final year of production

Month 3 - Month 2Month 1 - Specs

Life with a Mondeo Hybrid: Month 3

Petrol-electric powertrain isn’t proving quite as economical as we had hoped - 17 November 2021

As well as eating into boot space, the addition of a hybrid drivetrain into the existing Mondeo bodyshell has meant a reduction in fuel-tank capacity to fit it all in.

The drop from the 62 litres of diesel versions to the 51 litres of my petrol hybrid might not seem like much but, given that an MPG figure in the mid- 50s should be easily achievable in the oil-burner, it has a significant effect on the car’s real-world range.

Chuck in that my average economy has been dropping – now down to less than 45mpg overall – due to the number of town miles I cover, and that I’m not in the habit of letting the car run almost dry between top- ups, and I’ve found myself covering fewer than 300 miles before having to return to the pumps. That’s well under half the mileage I would expect to get between fills in a 2.0 Ecoblue.

This shortcoming is one shared by plug-in hybrids I’ve run before, but in their case, it was masked by the larger-capacity battery’s ability to offer a useful additional mileage; in a ‘self-charging’ hybrid such as the Mondeo, however, where it rarely runs on electric power alone for more than a short burst at a time, it comes into sharp focus.

At least those all-too-regular visits to the forecourts are made easier and faster by every Mondeo being fitted with Ford’s Easyfuel system. You just release the petrol flap and the spring-loaded lid opens only when the correct-sized fuel-pump nozzle is offered up to it – with the additional benefits of preventing unscrupulous people from trying to steal your fuel and preventing you from filling up with the wrong type.

Not that there’s much danger of the latter happening, so quiet is the Mondeo Hybrid’s 2.0-litre Duratec petrol engine. Diesel technology has come a long way in recent years, but it’s hard to match a well-engineered petrol for refinement. As long as you’re not pushing it hard, that is, because demand maximum acceleration and the CVT will hold it at high revs, making things uncomfortably thrashy.

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That temptation is rarely there, and when it’s driven gently, there’s little more than a murmur from up front; indeed, you have to be listening carefully to detect the changeover from battery to petrol power when you’re moving. Only if the engine kicks in when you’re stuck in traffic does it really make its presence felt.

Love it:

Infotainment The Mondeo’s system isn’t the last word in modernity, but it is intuitive and Apple CarPlay synchronises seamlessly.

Loathe it:

Collision sensor It’s oversensitive around town: every parked car seems to raise the alarm.

Mileage: 4125

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Intelligent illumination - 3 November 2021

Swivelling headlights are hardly new; the Citroën DS offered them back in 1967. But those on my Mondeo are particularly good, turning on both dipped and full beam and being far more responsive than older systems that faithfully followed your steering. In fully auto mode, they also switch from dipped to full in line with road conditions, and do so brilliantly.

Mileage: 3765

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Economy instructions - 20 October 2021

Following the panic at the pumps, I’ve been using the Mondeo’s ‘coach’ function to maximise the efficiency of its hybrid drivetrain. Getting 100% for acceleration and cruising is easy if I’m careful, but boosting my braking score is more challenging. The result? According to the trip computer, consumption has dropped from 46.3mpg to 46.2mpg.

Mileage: 3543

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Life with a Mondeo Hybrid: Month 2

How does this family hauler do when more than fully laden? - 13 October 2021

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When designing a new hybrid car on a clean sheet of paper, it’s easy to plan out the packaging to ensure that its occupants realise that the drivetrain is such only when it makes the transition from the seamless waft of electric power to the grumble of internal combustion. When you’re trying to make a hybrid from a car that was never meant to be one in the first place, however, the engineers will always face the quart- into-a-pint-pot challenge of trying to find somewhere for a drive battery.

In the case of the Ford Mondeo Estate, they decided, sensibly enough, to put it in the boot. Unfortunately, however, rather than find space for them under the boot floor, they’re perched on top of it, with a false floor above.

I realise that this particular drum is one that I’ve banged before, but it warrants repeating, because it’s such a dominant feature of the car.

And the resulting compromise was highlighted once again recently when we were heading off for a family narrowboating holiday, complete with our two dogs and a week’s worth of clothing and rations.

The hounds and their beds pretty much filled the 403-litre boot, so if we were to take more than a single change of undies each, we had no option but to fit a roof box. The good news was that the factory roof bars for the Mondeo are a doddle to fit, with a neat miniature torque wrench preventing clumsy over-tightening of the fittings, and we had soon added an extra couple of hundred litres of storage space over our heads.

There was further good news to be found on the cross-country route we took from the motorway to our rendezvous in Trowbridge. The extra weight the car was carrying made the ride, which can get a bit jittery around town, settle even more; and through the twistier sections, the car felt just as secure as when unladen.

With its feelsome and accurate steering and surprising agility for quite a big car, the Mondeo still offers plenty of driver reward on a sinuous, undulating route. It’s just a shame that the power unit in my Hybrid version doesn’t live up to the promise of the rest of the underpinnings: with just 128lb ft of torque to call on, you either have to wait patiently for the speed to build organically on a combination of electric and petrol power or endure the noisy thrash as the CVT holds the 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine at high revs to exploit its 184bhp (delivered at 6000rpm).

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There’s no rev counter nor manual shift function, reinforcing further the impression that, for all the sporting pretence of the ST-Line trim, this car’s focus is firmly on efficiency rather than entertainment.

Nonetheless, at least that excellent chassis means that once up to speed, you can enjoy the challenge of trying to hold on to it as frugally as possible, by carrying momentum through corners and using downhill stretches to keep the batteries topped up, ready to deploy on the inclines.

The result of all that was a pretty impressive 45mpg average, in spite of the extra weight and drag courtesy of that lump on the roof. Still, I can’t help thinking that a 2.0-litre diesel would have bettered that figure and offered a more potent punch.

Love it:

Sitting pretty The seats that come with my car’s ST-Line trim are fantastic: stylish and supportive when you’re driving hard yet also squishily comfy.

Loathe it:

Lack of leverage Bearing in mind how often the back bench has to be dropped for extra storage space, the lack of a remote release in the boot is frustrating.


Mileage: 3365

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Smooth sailing - 22 September 2021

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In spite of its 19in alloys, standard on ST-Line trim, the Mondeo has a remarkably supple ride. It can be knobbly on scarred city streets, but on decent Tarmac it’s serene – so much so that it’s the camera car of choice for one of our snappers. Its smooth suspension recently helped him get the perfect cover shot for sister mag Classic & Sports Car.

Mileage: 2543

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Life with a Mondeo Hybrid: Month 1

Not as big as you think - 1 September 2021

Because my two spaniels will spend plenty of time in the Mondeo Estate, it seemed sensible to get a mat to protect its carpets. Unfortunately, the Quasimodo-style lump in the boot floor to cover the hybrid drive battery meant judicious hacking of the new mat was required to get it to fit. I hope my dogs’ legs won’t need the same...

Mileage: 2180

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Welcoming the Mondeo to the fleet - 25 August 2021

It must have felt like the end of an era – well, more like five of them – when the Ford Cortina came to the end of its life in 1982, after 20 years and five generations. Likewise the demise 11 years later of the Sierra, which represented a quantum leap in styling terms at its launch yet carried the Blue Oval’s family car baton for more than a decade before handing it over to the ‘world car’ Mondeo in 1993.

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And now here we are again, waving goodbye to another long- serving stalwart – indeed, it has outlasted both of its forebears – from the Ford line. Or, more precisely, we will be in March next year, because its maker has decided that from spring 2022, the Mondeo will be no more. The bad news for Ford fans is that this time there won’t be a like-for-like replacement, ending 60 years of gentle evolution from that original Cortina.

But the good news is that it gives us time for this, one last hurrah in the outgoing former favourite in its final, fourth-generation form (albeit often known as the Mk5, due to the facelifted Mk1 looking so different from the original). And while this is a car that may not enthuse hordes of buyers any more, with sales in the UK having dropped from a 86,500 annual high to fewer than 2500 in 2020, my prior encounters with the Mondeo tell me that it’s likely to be a pleasure to live with across the coming months.

Much of that previous experience was acquired in a 2.0-litre diesel estate with which I hauled a caravan to the Scottish Highlands and back, but repeating those kinds of heroics might be more challenging this time, because I’ve opted for the Hybrid. Launched in 2019, this version offers the most up-to-date form this supposed dinosaur takes today, but it produces a relatively meagre 128lb ft of torque from its combination of Duratec 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine and an electric motor with a 1.4kWh battery pack.

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There’s 184bhp of power at a fairly lofty 6000rpm, but you rarely feel motivated to reach for those kind of heights, not least because the engine is hamstrung by being mated to a droning continuously variable transmission that doesn’t encourage you to drive the Mondeo in the racy fashion that its sporty styling pack encourages.

Those sharp threads come courtesy of the generous ST-Line Edition trim of our car, which is hard to fault: a panoramic roof and a reversing camera are the only things that might have been nice inclusions, but that’s me being spoiled.

Aside from the slight disappointment of the performance, the first few weeks with the car have served only to back up my Mondeo preconceptions. The big Ford remains a very appealing daily companion, with delightfully accurate, well-weighted and responsive steering, a supple ride (in spite of my car featuring ‘Sports Tuned’ suspension and sitting on whopping 19in rims) and a roomy, practical and comfortable cabin.

And as well as the Mondeo Estate Hybrid officially emitting a relatively meagre 106g/km of CO2 (just 12g/km more than the Toyota Prius), the first few hundred miles suggest that it’s going to be pretty economical. I’ve been restricted to mainly town use so far, and it has returned a perfectly acceptable 45.9mpg, with the electric and petrol power units working in seamless harmony. It pulls away silently on self-charged battery power, with the combustion engine only kicking in once you want to make more confident progress.

The boot is slightly less impressive, however. Even in standard form, the Mondeo Estate’s 500-litre load bay is bettered by roomier rivals, but in the Hybrid, that’s cut to just 403 litres by the location of the additional battery pack beneath the boot floor. It’s still a useful space, but it’s disappointing when you consider the car’s overall dimensions, and it really underlines the fact that this is a model that wasn’t designed with an electrified future in mind and has instead been bent to the will of the buying public, slightly against its wishes.

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Being so low-slung and sporty in comparison to the SUVs that have taken its place higher up the sales charts means it’s harder to accommodate that all-important battery, but it’s also easy to forget just how well a good estate can drive.

Instead of the high-set, commanding driving position of an SUV, you get a relaxing, cocooned feelrelaxation seems to be the order of the day in the Mondeo: the seats are cushioning and well shaped, if a bit short in the squab, and the ergonomics refreshingly simple and well laid out. There are even proper old-school buttons instead of the often-frustrating touch-sensitive controls that are becoming ever more prevalent.

Perhaps that’s just my age talking, and I should learn to embrace such new tricks like this old dog has. I have plenty of time to learn from it, and first impressions suggest that life as one of the UK’s last Mondeo Men is going to suit me very well.

Second Opinion

You might imagine the hybrid powertrain and ST-Line Edition trim make for something of a contradiction, but don’t forget Ford knows how to deliver a capable chassis. A short stint behind the wheel showed me the Mondeo can still entertain on the right stretch of road.

Tom Morgan

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Ford Mondeo Estate 2.0 Hybrid ST-Line Edition specification

Specs: Price New £31,690 Price as tested £32,540 Options Lucid Red premium paint £850

Test Data: Engine 1999cc, 4cyls, turbocharged petrol, plus electric motor Power 187bhp Top speed 116mph 0-62mph 9.2sec Fuel economy 50.4mpg CO2 127g/km Faults None Expenses None

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Comments
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LP in Brighton 5 November 2021

It would be interesting to learn more about this car's drivetrain. Is it a built-under license copy of Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive arrangement with its eCVT epicyclic transmission, or has Ford gone its own way with something different?  If it's the former I'd prefer to buy the original from a manufacturer with decades of experience rather than buy from Ford which lacks the inventiveness and investment to develop its own. 

abkq 31 October 2021

Even a family workhorse should embody more flair, display more imagination, as its French and Italian equivalents do (or in some cases used to do)

Seems Ford has totally given up.

scotty5 31 October 2021

What an odd choice of car to review.