REVIEW DATE: 31 May 2007
The Mondeo used to be the car for the common man. Looks like common man is getting ideas above his station. Andy Enright reports on the 1.6-litre petrol-engined models
It's rare that a new car gets a virtually unblemished scorecard but the latest Mondeo 1.6-litre gets within a squeak of exactly that. Roomier, more handsome, better built and packed with features, the Mondeo has left its rather proletarian roots behind and absorbed some genuinely premium look and feel. The best bit? The prices haven't marched upmarket with it.
You must remember Mondeo Man. He was the everyman, the no-nonsense bloke who brought Labour a landslide in '97 and who represented the honest grafter just trying to get ahead. These days you don't see too much of him. Perhaps it's because graduates are now working behind the counters in Nandos whereas plumbers and plasterers now hanker after BMWs and Audis that the false promise of 'education, education, education' rather dropped the bottom out of the Mondeo man's core market.
Ford's response wasn't predictable. Rather than stick to what it's been doing well for years, the Mondeo has attempted to shin up the greasy pole a bit, offering the sort of tactility and soft touch, silicon-damped, deep pile quality we've come to expect from the premium brands. Even James Bond took a turn behind the wheel. Ford showed with the GT sports car that the Blue Oval badge was no impediment when a brilliant product was on offer. Now it's the Mondeo's turn to follow suit.
It helps to do a soft reboot and try to forget what you knew about the old Mondeo when it comes to driving the latest car. Not because it's worse; merely because it's very different. Throw it at a corner and expect that same pointy front end, the detailed feedback through the wheel and the sporty lack of body roll and you'll wonder where the progress has gone. Instead everything feels polished, buffed to a sheen with glassy steering responses and a ride that's wrapped in cotton wool. It's not wholly sporty but, if anything, the absolute levels of grip and go are better than before. It's when you're not trying to corner the Mondeo on its door mirrors that it all feels so sublime.
"Refinement is massively superior to the old car.."
Refinement is massively superior to the old car and even the base 1.6-litre car has ride quality that shames an Audi A4. Two engines are available, both four-cylinder 16-valve Ti-VCT units fronting up either 109bhp or 124bhp, depending on how deep your pockets are. Once you learn to trust the front end, handling is excellent with a very clever ESP stability control system. Given the car's roadholding levels, the wide front seats lack a little in terms of lateral support.
Take a seat inside the car and you'll notice high quality surfaces, materials and finishes. As with the outside, dynamic lines and styling curves are again evident, plus the low profile instrument panel provides very generous cabin space for front seat occupants. The dashboard is clear and the major controls for the electronics systems largely intuitive.
The design team has also paid great attention to interior detailing, and examples of this include new generation infotainment systems, plus the next generation of Ford's Human Machine Interface (HMI). This easy to use system features the same steering-wheel toggle switches seen on new Galaxy and S-MAX, but introduces the availability of a large central LCD screen with full colour graphics situated between the main analogue instruments in front of the driver.
Rear seat headroom and legroom have also come in for scrutiny by the Mondeo development team and these have been maximized for occupant comfort and safety. I'm 6'4" and I was easily able to fit comfortably in the back seat behind a front seat virtually all the way back on its runner.
Ford's old 'pile 'em high and sell 'em cheap' tactic has been replaced with a more responsible approach that safeguards residual values. Whereas the old car was initially offered at a relatively high price but with plenty of scope for negotiation, this time round Ford has slashed list prices by £300 or so model for model but wants to keep a cap on discounting. The company also wants to avoid sullying the car's image by selling thousands to operators like hire car companies.
The 1.6-litre range does without the ritzy Ghia and Titanium trim levels, the line up consisting of just two trim levels, Edge and Zetec, appealing respectively in terms of value and a modicum of sportiness. As you'd expect, all the usual features are in place. Even the basic Edge variant gets air-conditioning, cruise control, a leather steering wheel, a CD stereo with an MP3 connection socket, seven air-bags, ABS with Electronic Brake Assist (EBA), power front windows, remote central locking, a quick clear heated front windscreen, plus power and heated door mirrors. Zetec trim is recognizable by 16-inch alloys and front fog lights.
You wouldn't expect a 1.6-litre Ford Mondeo to cost serious money to keep on the road and so it proves. For those not covering big mileages, this may well be the model to go for, especially with the more powerful of the two engines putting up a better battle against the Mondeo's bulk. Residual values look to be standing up very well with initial estimates around ten percentage points better than the outgoing car. Compared to cars like the Mazda6, the Peugeot 407 and the Renault Laguna, these are extremely strong indeed. Only the Honda Accord really gets close in terms of mainstream brands.
Fuel economy figures are fairly decent but it's worth reiterating that once fully loaded, the 1.6-litre engines will struggle. Both feature the same 160Nm torque figure which is a fair bit less than the 295Nm of the entry-level 1.8-litre diesel model so if you're planning o some heavy haulage best to go for a Mondeo that drinks from the black rather than the green pump. Emissions are within sensible scope of business car user choosers too and Ford estimates the hatchback body style will account for 70 per cent of those sales, the remaining 30 per cent split between the four-door saloon and the five-door estate.
The latest Mondeo could so easily have landed Ford with a whole chicken coop of egg on its face. The worst case scenario would have been a Mondeo that was overstretching itself; trying to be something that it palpably was not. Were the pretence gossamer thin, that would undoubtedly have been the case. But it's not. There's proper depth of engineering in the latest Mondeo and the ability to see eye to eye with cars nominally viewed as above the Ford's station.
Both engines have something to be said for them, but the higher power unit gets the nod due to the fact that you won't have to pedal it quite so hard to get the job done and fuel economy is therefore not markedly worse. There will probably be a small lag before public perception of this car catches up to the reality but the smarty money is already hitting the sales desks in Ford dealers up and down the country. Perhaps education, education, education had some lasting legacy after all.
The results below show the top MONDEO deals on buyacar
|Ford Mondeo 2.0 TDCi 163 Titanium X Business Edition 5dr diesel estate|
|Price £18,465||Save £6,580|
|Ford Mondeo 2.0 TDCi 163 Titanium X Business Edition 5dr diesel hatchback|
|Price £17,571||Save £6,224|
|Ford Mondeo 2.0 TDCi 140 Titanium X Business Edition 5dr diesel estate|
|Price £18,036||Save £6,409|
|Ford Mondeo 2.2 TDCi Titanium X Sport 5dr diesel hatchback|
|Price £20,850||Save £7,400|
|Ford Mondeo 2.0 TDCi 140 Edge 5dr diesel estate|
|Price £16,172||Save £5,273|
|VIEW MORE DISCOUNT MONDEO DEALS|
|For MONDEO 1.6 Ti-VCT RANGE|
|OVERALL||7.6 OUT OF 10|
|Space / Versatility||8|
Let our car quote assistant help you configure your ideal new Mondeo - it's 100% free and easy to use...
Click below for more information: