Poor old Mondeo has always been a great car but for some odd reason makes people run from the showroom screaming. This is a shame because they will never sample the delights laying beneath the skin of what is now a very handsome machine, or its delights contained therein.
Ford missed the boat with sexy new Falcon. While it looks unbelievably good outside, the interior is slightly drab and feels a decades out of date and is lacking much of the tech we now expect. The collar simply does not match the cuffs. Mondeo however, is modern and sharp, and completely “now” both inside and out. Adding to Falcon’s woes, people are not buying big cars preferring big SUVs instead. This completely baffles me. More than 30% of the market now occupied by mum’s taxis driven by football players, social climbing wannabe execs, and of course, Paris-Hilton-Sunglass-wearing soccer-moms. Those who don’t want a big car or a stonking SUV will buy something slightly smaller with better fuel economy. Even so, they won’t want to sacrifice the driving experience.
A Mondeo is sensible, yes, but it is one of those rare cars which is more than the sum of its parts. It doesn’t make your pulse race. Instead, it is calming and serene so if you want that mid-life crisis car you’ll be disappointed. It is for a buyer who knows what he wants and doesn’t want to origami himself into a tiny 2 seater just so that he can feel 21 again. Besides, that rarely works.
You enter the cabin via a smart key which stays secreted about your person. You start the engine with the press of a button, and the rear hatch is electrically operated either via the key, so it is open when you get to it with arms full of shopping, or the hatch or dash switches.
This Eco Boost petrol engine is the one used in the 4 cylinder Falcon and the soon to be released Mustang. It is only a smidge less powerful than Holden’s 3.0L 6 cylinder unit and is smooth in its power delivery rather than a neck snapping thug. I wouldn’t normally bore you rigid with engine details but these figures are impressive. The aluminium 2.0L petrol power plant comes in either a Euro 6 149KW version or a Euro 5 177kw model both with 345 Nm of torque. If you want to burn oil instead, you can have an aluminium 132kw/400Nm diesel. We drove the 177kw Titanium with silky turbo petrol performance and it pleased us very much.
Let’s face it, the previous Mondeo was a little dull on the outside, but the new model is gorgeous. The Titanium is lit up like a Christmas tree with more LEDs than the Eifel Tower. It looks sleek and fast though the standard 18” alloys aren’t my cup of tea. All that can be fixed with a few quick ticks on the “options list”.
The list of standard stuff on titanium is both extensive and impressive. Wrapped in the gorgeous coachwork is a cornucopia of tech the likes of which you once needed to buy an S Class Merc to experience.
The handsome interior has had much love lavished on it. It feels far more luxurious than it has any right to. There are heated seats front and back, inflatable seatbelts, blind spot detection, adaptive cruise control and excellent bendy head lights. They adapt to road conditions and turn to light the way as you go round bends. They also have auto high beam and once activated switches on and off when it senses street lights and other vehicles. It does a much better job than a human would late at night as attention begins to wander.
There is also active lane departure. This gives a warning on the dash and a little shimmy through the steering wheel if you wander over lines without indicating. If you’re a complete dunderhead it will apply a touch of pressure to the steering wheel to help you back on track. All of this is can be turned on or off once configured in the menu system. Annoyingly the on/off switch is on the end of stalk with the wiper controls. I found myself accidentally turning it off but I’m sure you’d eventually get used to it as an owner. The low speed accident mitigation system adds a further layer of protection for emergencies only. We’ve all seen the tests on TV where it didn’t work and sent the car careening into the shrubbery. It is meant to help the driver be safe, not to replace the need care and attention and certainly not to amuse drunk friends.
The sound system sound pretty good for a car of this price range. Yes it could be better, so an audiophile might want a small upgrade but it would be worth every penny.
One Hallelujah moment is the Sync II which has banished most of the centre console switch gear to a sub menu. The 8” screen is clearly divided into 4 zones and each is directly selectable at all times. Phone, entertainment, climate control and navigation the on the Home Screen but selecting any of those will bring up further detail. The Settings menu is available from the home screen and the whole system is easy to find your way around. Only the lane departure system seemed badly laid out with the setting split between the menu system and the on/off switch on the stalk. The only buttons left on the console are the climate control settings. One presumes Ford wants these to still work should your LCD ever give up the ghost.
The Automated parking gets you into to very tight spots and joy of joys, will get you out again. This is a very sophisticated bit of kit. I once thought of auto parking as a gimmick but it comes in very handy especially in tight city spots. It can get you into 90 ° spots too but a human does a much better job usually.
The surprise is the boot which is cavernous. The rear seats come down to provide even more space which is something most of us use from time to time. The space saver spare is easy to use but a replacement tyre can take a few days to materialize as I found out the hard way.
The evaluation went for slightly longer than usual so we really got under the skin of the Mondeo. Driving at night gave a true appreciation of those bendy lights at the front and also the super bright rear LEDs for the fog lights. Unless they are switched on, the 3 LEDs in each rear cluster are invisible. Switching them on is like lighting a small laser-powered bonfire. The front blinkers feature a neat chaser-style operation where it starts in the middle of the car and sweeps outwards. They didn’t need to do it but they did and it looks pretty and more importantly, unusual. I found myself turning the blinkers on at traffic lights so I could watch them reflecting in the tail gates of those SUVs I love so much. Sadly, it wasn’t always when I wanted to turn a corner but I simply couldn’t help myself. They are mesmerizing.
The driver’s seat and steering wheel are adjusted electrically and move away when the ignition is turned off so a driver has plenty of room to get out. It makes a huge difference especially for a beefier lad. This can be turned off if you frequently have people sitting in the back but it is such a cool feature so just make those in the back get their hoofs out of the way. On that subject, the rear space is huge. It feels even more spacious if the driver raises the seat a little. This way the blokes in the rear can slide their feet further forward making great use of the legroom when it is needed the most. The rear seatbelts have inbuilt airbags and they inflate in an emergency so there are fewer nasty bruises. That is a brilliant bit of forward thinking.
My only criticism is the dash air vents which only adjust to a horizontal position. You can’t point the air upwards and this often leads to cold elbows or hands. It would have been so easy to give another 40° of movement. It’s a small thing but it rather feels like tripping at the last hurdle.
The drive is fabulous. The chassis settings make for just the right feel for a perfect combination of comfort and handling. You have your choice of a limo-like ride in comfort mode, and a very acceptable ride in normal mode. The sport mode was meant to make things very stiff but there didn’t feel to be much of a difference. The steering feels light and direct but perhaps a little too light for my taste. It gets heavier at speed so perhaps this is something you also have to get used to.
Remember, this hatchback can take 5 decent size chaps in relative comfort and the 177kw motor still manages to feel light and breezy. Remember those early Ford Telstars? They felt heavy and awkward but looked good for the era. The 5 door body is a similar shape to Telstar but there the similarity ends. Mondeo is cutting edge tech at its best and this translates to an engaging drive.
You turn the wheel and the car goes exactly where you want it to. There is little understeer (where the car wants to go straight ahead despite the wheels being turned). It’s a sign of a well sorted chassis and a credit to the designers.
At speed, the cabin is whisper quiet and the ride smooth and comfortable even in “normal” mode. On the highway we managed around 6L/100k but this climbed rather alarmingly doing the city thing, but not enough to make me want a diesel.
The 6 speed powershift auto is one of those double clutch thingies and feels very sharp. The (steering wheel) paddle changes are reasonably quick and just the ticket if you fancy yourself as Nico Rosberg, but then who wouldn’t?
A real bonus is the package as a whole feels value for money. Where else can you buy a large 5 seat vehicle for under 50 grand? Ford mentioned several times that the diesel Mondeo is more economical than Camry Hybrid which is interesting to say the least. Ford have failed to capture the market with previous Mondeos despite them being excellent drives. I hope this one will be different.
Would I buy one? Surprisingly, yes.
Price $49,204 (petrol) $52,564 (diesel) drive away NSW
Engines: 2.0L 177kw/345Nm turbo petrol or 2.0L 132kw/400Nm turbo diesel
Econ: 8.5L/100k petrol and 5.1L/100 diesel
Transmission: 6sp manual or 6 speed powershift auto