Ford Mondeo Titanium Estate 2.0TDCI Powershift Auto
It’s all change in the large, volume-brand saloon sector this year. We’ve had a new VW Passat, facelifts for Peugeot 508 and Mazda 6, and new Skoda Superb and Toyota Avensis are on their way.
And in the middle of all this activity comes a new version of the car that more than any defines the class – the Ford Mondeo. It’s been a long time coming – we originally saw the car back in October 2012, but Ford’s decision to close its Belgian plant and move production to Spain brought about an 18-month delay in getting the car to the European market. It’s been on sale since 2013 in the US, where it’s known as the Fusion. Has it been worth the wait?
Actually, the timing could be pretty good. We’ve recently seen a number of chauffeur operators looking to launch an “executive” service, somewhere between a Prius/Octavia minicab and a luxury Mercedes chauffeur service. Companies such as Driven A to B with its fleet of Vauxhall Insignias, or Transdev’s Black Car Service, with its Volkswagen CCs, could be perfect prospects for the big new Ford saloon.
And it certainly is big. Any long-serving chauffeurs who still mourn the demise of the Ford Scorpio 15 years ago need reminding that the Mondeo is bigger than the old bug-eyed beastie in every dimension, inside and out.
It’s an impressive car, with real road presence thanks to a large, chrome-heavy grille with Aston Martin overtones, and a wide and tall stance that dwarfs many rivals. We recently tested the new Passat, and while the wide new VW grille gives a broad look to the car, the Mondeo stands taller and bulkier.
Our test car is an estate-bodied version. We’ve driven the hatchback too – and, oddly, a saloon version powered by a new petrol-electric hybrid powertrain. This is the only Mondeo to have a four-door shell – all conventionally engine cars are only available in hatch or estate guise. Why the saloon? It’s actually a US-made model, and Uncle Sam still prefers a boot.
Styling-wise, it’s recognisably a Mondeo, especially when viewed in profile. It’s an all-new car, but it retains a lot of the DNA of the last major revision, the “kinetic design” Mondeo of 2007, especially in terms of roof line and side window shapes.
From launch, there are three trim levels on offer: Style, Zetec and Titanium specifications. Our test car is a well-loaded Titanium spec, in “Deep Impact Blue”, one of the signature colours for the new car. We’re driving the most powerful of the three diesel engine options – 180PS, with 400Nm of torque. There’s a 148PS alternative, and a 1.6-litre 115PS diesel too, with exceptionally low CO2 emissions of 94g/km and claimed fuel economy of 78.5mpg.
In April, that 1.6-litre engine will be replaced by a Euro 6 compliant 118PS 1.5-litre TDCi unit, with similar performance figures, and a twin-turbocharged 207PS 2.0-litre TDCi engine will follow along with the luxurious Vignale edition later in the year. All of the 2.0-litre units are offered with a choice of 6-speed manual or twin-clutch Powershift automatic transmission, which we’re testing here.
This powertrain combination is considerably less frugal than the smaller diesel engine, with Ford claiming 56.5mpg on the combined cycle, and 130g/km of CO2 emissions, which places the Mondeo we’re testing into VED Band E - £130 of tax.
What did we get in real-world conditions? Over an intensive week including motorway runs and an eventful cross-country trip to south-east Kent, we averaged 43.0mpg at 32.1mph, a very acceptable return.
On the road
It feels like a big car – more muscular than the viceless Passat we recently drove, and less nimble than, say, the agile Peugeot 508. You’re aware of the size of the car, especially on tighter roads or around busy city centres.
The engine is well soundproofed, though, with very little noise – at 70mph, the engine is turning below 2,00rpm, and at that speed, tyre noise is more noticeable. Handling is extremely solid and the firm steering gives lots of feel. Cruise control is fitted, but not adaptive on this car – it’s available as an option.
If the Mondeo looks handsome from the outside, it’s perhaps not quite so elegant inside. It’s certainly not as stylish as the well thought-out Passat, whose full-width vents give a real widebody look to the cabin. But it’s still a comfortable and welcoming place – the side windows line is high, so you feel much more enclosed, and the fully electric leather front seats are soft and very comfortable.
The dashboard layout is quite conventional, with a centrally mounted 8in touch screen controlling satnav, infotainment, phone and climate control functions. Gone is the switchgear flanking the screen that was found on earlier Mondeos. As you might expect from a car designed to be sold in the US, there are loads of cup holders and storage areas – very useful for phones, sunglasses and assorted paraphernalia.
The primary instrument cluster looks pretty normal, but actually contains a well concealed colour screen that links the two primary dials. In fact, only the graduated bezels are analogue – everything else, including the speedometer and rev counter needles, are part of the digital display. This integrates satnav instructions and radio information with the central satnav – it works pretty well.
There is one snag. The satnav is a little indiscriminate about the type of roads it sends you down. A seeming short cut on the map might involve a very narrow road – not a lot of use when you don’t know an area. And on one occasion it got us into trouble, thanks to a particularly nasty country lane pothole trashed the nearside front tyre. Given the restriction of the road, we had no option but to continue to the next town – three miles later, the tyre was a goner. At least the Mondeo has a space-saver spare, not the dreaded inflator kit, which would have been useless in the circumstances.
With some sat-navs – BMW’s excellent road atlas-style display, for example, you have a good idea what a road is like - system designers take note, please!
At least the functionality of the Ford Sync 2 system is good –touching the corners of the screen switches function, and although we prefer external controllers to touch, this one works logically, with very clear, readable graphics. Some, but not all, climate functions are controlled from a separate panel.
The digital instrument cluster and large satnav screen are part of the Titanium specification, which also includes automatic headlights and wipers, sports seats, 17in alloy wheels and traffic sign recognition and a lane keeping aid.
Our car added even bigger 19in wheels – though given the pothole experience we’d save the £500 extra and keep the smaller rims with deeper tyres. An “X pack” was also fitted, adding £2,000 to the price and uprating the specification to include leather upholstery, full-LED headlights, rear privacy glass, heated and electric memory seats and keyless entry.
Other options fitted included active city stop – well worth £200 to avoid low-speed impacts - and a world first, inflatable rear seatbelts, bringing extra crash protection to rear seat passengers.
Audible and graphic parking sensors are also fitted – we were a little surprised not to find a rear-view camera, which would be useful as vision is very limited out of the estate’s rear window thanks to very thick D-pillars at the rear.
Lane-keeping warnings and assistants are standard on Titanium trim – the warning gently vibrates the steering wheel when you deviate from lane, while the assistant uses the car’s ABS and traction control to ease you back into lane. This took some getting used to – the initial reaction is to counter the movements, which makes it feel like you’re fighting with the car. After a while, we turned this off and left the warnings on.
Interior and boot
The rear of the car is very comfortable, with seats that are softer than many and legroom that is probably only bettered by the Skoda Superb. The square doors of the estate make entry and exit very easy and there’s ample headroom. A panoramic roof is fitted too, to give the option of plenty of natural light.
The boot is a decent size too, with a flat lip-free loading lip and a deep space. Our standard cases would have fitted twice over with ease. Officially, it’s smaller than the hatchback’s boot (500 litres versus 541 litres) but with the tonneau retracted, you can pile the cases a little higher. There’s some storage space in the under-floor area, with a moulded tray between the floor and the space-saver spare wheel.
Size matters – the new Mondeo is a highly competent people and luggage carrier in a very competitive segment. It feels big and it is big, with very decent rear legroom and a huge boot.
The downside of being such a big vehicle is a slightly cumbersome feel compared to some rivals. But that’s no bad thing, especially as refinement inside the cabin is good – it lends itself to chauffeur-style driving, which bodes well for the very classy Vignale versions due later in the year.
It’s not the most stylish cabin, but dashboard and satnav functionality is good, with very nice, readable graphics. Just be careful when the satnav wants you to take a short cut!
Mondeo feels more of a muscle car compared to the new VW Passat that we tested last month. The two cars have a very different character – they’re both good, and we suspect the appeal will be very subjective.
At a base price of £26,865, our test car offers good value. Add-ons take the tested price up to £31,635, and we’d certainly keep the X-pack and the park sensors, but not the 19in alloys.
Fuel economy was every bit as good as the Passat we tested, though CO2 emissions are not the greenest – however a 94g/km 115PS 1.6 diesel is available and that might be a better option if your customers demand strong green credentials from their suppliers.
Ford Mondeo Titanium Estate 2.0TDCI Powershift Auto
Options fitted to test car
|Titanium X pack||£2,000|
|19in alloy wheels||£500|
|Panoramic roof with opening||£900|
|Inflatable rear seatbelts||£175|
|Active park assist and sensors||£450|
|Active city stop||£200|
Price as tested £31,635
|Engine||2.0-litre 16v turbocharged 4-cylinder diesel|
|Transmission||6-speed dual-clutch auto, front-wheel drive|
|Power||180PS @ 3,500rpm|
|Torque||400Nm @ 2,000rpm|
|Combined fuel economy||56.5mpg|
|Luggage volume||500 litres|
|Fuel tank capacity||60 litres|
|Warranty||3 years/60,000 miles|