Audi’s original Q7 represented a lot of car for the money when it came out in 2007 – but for all its virtues, it never felt quite right. Too bulky, too obviously made with the American market in mind.
Skoda set a benchmark for the upper-medium sector with its previous Superb when it was launched in 2009. Cleverly adapting the China-market long-wheelbase VW Passat platform resulted in a car with class-leading rear seat space and luggage room.
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?
The Passat has been a real mainstay of the Volkswagen range for more than 40 years – it pre-dates both Golf and Polo. VW has sold more than 22 million worldwide, including 442,000 in the UK, and the car has now reached its eighth generation.
The latest version is launched at a busy time in the upper-medium sector, following the Peugeot 508 last year and hitting UK showrooms just ahead of the new Ford Mondeo. A facelifted Mazda6 has just been launched, and the new Skoda Superb, which shares much of the running gear of the Passat, will go on sale later this year.
The pressure to clean up the air quality in major cities is intense – and any public transport vehicle is seen as a soft target. Just look at the proposed tightening of London rules from 2018. While the target of “electrically capable” vehicles might be difficult to achieve, it’s certain that CO2 targets will continue to be tightened.
It’s clear that getting under 100g/km is going to be a pre-requisite in order to get licensed – and there’s still a limited selection of decent-sized cars that can do that.