REVIEW DATE: 03 Sep 2010
Ford's Mondeo has stepped up its act - and nowhere is this more obvious than in its diesel line-up. Jonathan Crouch checks out the 2.2 Duratorq TDCi flagship variant
Engineering perfection isn't only found in pricey supercars. An everyday Ford Mondeo has plenty of it, especially since engine improvements have kept it in front of its medium range Vauxhall Insignia, Renault Laguna and VW Passat-class rivals. This third generation version is a very complete product, especially in 2.2-litre Duratorq TDCi guise.
Times have changed - and Ford's Mondeo has changed with them. Once a mascot of New Labour, 'Mondeo man' is, today, a far more sophisticated person. He doesn't feel the need to pay extra for a German premium badge on the bonnet of his company car when this Ford is bigger, sharper to drive, better equipped - and even in some ways better finished. Private buyers can see the logic too but there simply aren't as many of them as they used to be, the traditional medium range market plundered by SUVs and MPVs.
Ford's response to this was pragmatic. For the third generation Mondeo, a platform was developed from which S-MAX and Galaxy MPVs could also be constructed. All three models are built at the company's Belgium Genk factory with production volumes altered to meet demand. It's worked well: the MPV models have gained rave reviews, while the Mondeo crushed Vectra, Passat and Laguna rivals firmly into submission at its launch in 2007. Since then though, all those cars (and others like them) have improved hugely and this Ford has again needed to evolve to compete - this time under the bonnet with the introduction of impressive engines like the 2.2-litre TDCi Duratorq diesel unit we're looking at here. Have the changes been enough to keep it on top? Let's find out.
"Times have changed - and Ford's Mondeo has changed with them."
Before this car arrived, Fords had begun to look rather clinical, a little over-functional. We were all told they were great to drive but we didn't feel that they were going to be when we saw one in the driveway. Fortunately, this facelifted MK3 Mondeo has moved things on. The trapezoidal front grille has been made bolder on the latest cars with a more slimline opening above. LED daytime running lights also feature and the bonnet has more sculpted shape. At the back, the rear light clusters also feature LED technology.
Inside. It's not quite BMW, Audi and Mercedes-like - things like the cheaper plastic on the glovebox lid give the game away - but it's astonishingly close for a mainstream brand, with tasteful aluminium decor and piano-black lacquer inserts offering a real premium touch to those who wisely avoid the fake wood of the Ghia model. Where you particularly notice the extra space on offer from that bigger shape is here in the back. Three big adults across the back seat or an Audi A4 or a BMW 3 Series is a squash that's only slightly improved if you opt for something mainstream like a Vauxhall Insignia or a Renault Laguna. Here, it's no problem at all, with superb space for shoulders, legs and heads. Wide opening doors and minimal wheelarch intrusion mean it's easy to get in and out too and nice touches on plusher versions like this one include these rear cabin air vents built into the B-pillars.
Out back, the boot too is huge and very well shaped, with load hooks and tie-downs to help you keep things in place should you get carried away at the wheel by the Mondeo's dynamic repertoire. There's 528-litres of space on offer in this 5-door Hatch, a figure rising to 1448-litres if you flatten the 60/40 split-rear seats. Go for the Estate version and the respective figures are 542 and 1733-litres.
List pricing suggests that you'll be paying between £17,500 and £27,500 for your Mondeo, with an £1,100 premium if you want the estate version rather than this 5-door hatch. Of course, this 2.2-litre Duratorq model will be right up near the top of that scale. Spec-wise, with powerful competition in this sector, Ford has made very sure that all the right showroom features are in place. Even the basic variant gets air-conditioning, cruise control, a leather steering wheel, a CD stereo with an MP3 connection socket, power front windows, remote central locking, a quick clear heated front windscreen, Bluetooth 'phone connection and electric heated door mirrors. Safety-wise, you'lll find seven air-bags (including a driver's knee 'bag), ABS with EBA Electronic Brake Assist and ESP stability control.
Today's Mondeo might be large but it treads quite lightly from an environmental and cost point of view thanks to come clever fuel saving technologies. Ford's regenerative braking system is fitted. Dubbed 'Smart Regenerative Charging', it uses kinetic energy recovered when the car is coasting or braking to charge the battery. There's also an Eco mode and an Active Grille Shutter which closes off the air-flow through the radiator grille when possible to improve aerodynamics. The 2.2-litre Duratorq TDCi 140PS diesel that we're looking at here delivers an impressive 47mpg on the combined cycle, plus CO2 emissions of 159g/km.
Plus there's one clever touch we really like if you arrive at the filling station and temporarily forget which kind of engine's sitting underneath your bonnet. Spring-loaded tabs around the nozzle of this fuel filler mean you can never put petrol in a diesel Mondeo like this one since if the tabs aren't displaced, the narrower petrol pump nozzle simply won't go in. Neat. Ford has even thought about reducing accident costs: this 'sacrificial panel', a body-coloured plastic section of the tailgate that absorbs knocks to save the steel pressing, is another example of fanatical attention to detail.
To be honest, we'd forgotten just how good this car was. This Ford always got the basics right - packaging, comfort, convenience - and with an improved and more efficient engine line-up, it's back in front of more recently introduced rivals, none of whom can match its driving experience.
With private buyers back on Ford's radar for their bigger models, it needs to ooze showroom appeal - and it does, which is just as well given the prices being asked. By most measures the Mondeo is a great example of what a big company can do when it aligns its resources and focuses on a target. It's not perfect but it's closer to perfect than all its key rivals and that's enough.
The results below show the top MONDEO deals on buyacar
|Ford Mondeo 2.0 TDCi 140 Titanium 5dr diesel hatchback|
|Price £17,995||Save £5,436|
|Ford Mondeo 2.0 TDCi 163 Titanium X Business Edition 5dr diesel hatchback|
|Price £17,571||Save £6,224|
|Ford Mondeo 2.0 TDCi 163 Titanium X Business Edition 5dr diesel estate|
|Price £18,465||Save £6,580|
|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 2.2 Duratorq TDCi|
|OVERALL||7.6 OUT OF 10|
|Space / Versatility||8|
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