REVIEW DATE: 25 Jun 2010
Can Ford's EcoBoost technology make petrol a more desirable option for Mondeo buyers? Steve Walker takes a look.
When a petrol engine comes with a turbocharger, we're accustomed to expecting big performance from it. Big performance but also big fuel consumption. The suggestion that any car is going to display a barely quenchable thirst for unleaded is enough to set alarm bells ringing with the buying public but Ford is hoping to ease such concerns with its range-topping Mondeo. Yes, it has a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine but it's called EcoBoost, so it must be economical right?
It could be time to reset your opinions where the turbocharger is concerned. It was once a rather unsophisticated way of increasing the performance of a petrol car, usually to the detriment of its fuel efficiency. Today's more advanced installations are better viewed as a means of getting the same performance levels from a smaller engine capacity, thus reducing the relative amount of fuel used.
We have no problem with the concept of turbocharged diesel engines being efficient and it looks like our perception of turbo petrol cars will be going that way too. So can the 2.0 EcoBoost provide a realistic alternative to the 2.0 TDCi engines that form the bedrock of the Mondeo range?
The 2.0-litre EcoBoost engine in the Ford Mondeo arrived as a four-cylinder replacement for the less sophisticated 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbocharged unit that was originally offered in the livelier versions of the car. It achieves similar performance but markedly better fuel economy with some resolutely high-tech features.
"The EcoBoost is a thoroughly modern engine that hints at a possible petrol comeback."
The all-aluminium construction of the engine saves weight and there's a high pressure direct fuel injection system feeding precisely controlled qualities of fuel into the cylinders. There's twin independent variable cam timing and the turbocharger itself is an advanced low inertia system that minimises turbo lag. Resulting from all this is maximum power of 200bhp and torque of 300Nm delivered from as low as 1,750rpm right through to 4,500rpm. The hatchback version of this Mondeo takes 7.9s to reach 62mph, with the estate detaining you for only 0.3s longer.
Take a seat inside the car and you'll notice high quality materials and finishes. As with the outside, dynamic lines and styling curves are evident, plus the low profile instrument panel provides very generous space for front seat occupants. The dashboard is clear and the major controls for the electronics systems are largely intuitive.
The design team has also paid great attention to interior detailing and examples of this include the impressive infotainment systems and the Ford Human Machine Interface (HMI). This easy-to-use system features steering-wheel toggle switches and introduces the availability of a large central LCD screen situated between the main analogue instruments in front of the driver.
Rear seat headroom and legroom are particularly impressive, with the Mondeo really making use of the car's considerable exterior dimensions. The boot is on a similar scale and even a wardrobe sales rep would have a fighting chance of taking a sample along for the ride on a business trip in the Mondeo.
The EcoBoost engine is only available in the Mondeo's more salubrious trim levels. That means buyers can specify the unit in Titanium, Titanium X or Titanium X Sport guises with the usual choice of five-door hatchback or estate bodystyles. Ford's PowerShift dual-clutch automatic transmission is included as standard with the car, which pushes prices up a little.
All Mondeo variants get air-conditioning, cruise control, a leather steering wheel, a CD stereo with an MP3 connection socket, seven airbags, ABS with Electronic Brake Assist (EBA), power front windows, remote central locking, a quick clear heated front windscreen and electric heated door mirrors. The Titanium trims that the EcoBoost engine is available with are considerably plusher. The Titanium X series aims to emphasise modern technology with a 'contemporary' interior and the Titanium X Sport adds some sporty styling accessories to the exterior.
The fuel economy returns from the 2.0-litre EcoBoost don't look all that impressive compared to the Mondeo's 2.0 TDCi diesel engines but for a 200bhp petrol model with a dual-clutch automatic gearbox, it does pretty well. The bottom line is 36.6mpg and emissions of 179g/km, which is better than the Mondeo's normally-aspirated 2.0-litre engine can manage when mated to a manual gearbox.
Modern turbocharged petrol cars are as much about fuel economy as they are about performance and Ford is looking to underline that with its 2.0-litre EcoBoost engine as fitted to the Mondeo. With an advanced PowerShift automatic gearbox as standard, the Mondeo turns in sprightly performance figures and economy that might make some consider choosing it ahead of a diesel.
The EcoBoost is a thoroughly modern engine that hints at a possible petrol comeback in a medium range sector that continues to be dominated by diesel. It has a long way to go to match the efficiency of the Mondeo's 2.0 TDCi diesel units but with the gap narrowed and superior performance to call upon, it's a very desirable option that will suit those who want to get the most from the Mondeo's involving driving experience.
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