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Car reviews - Ford - Mondeo - range

Our Opinion

We like
Standard spec from base variant, smooth ride, interior space, design, tech and connectivity features, sweet diesel engine
Room for improvement
No rear airvents in Ambiente, slightly lazy steering, cheap cabin fittings, lack of premium feel in Titanium

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Ford logo8 Apr 2015

By TIM NICHOLSON and TUNG NGUYEN

FORD Australia must really have some beef with Toyota, because they are directly targeting the Camry in an aggressive marketing campaign to promote how much better it reckons its new Mondeo is compared with the Aussie-built sedan.

But it also says the Camry isn’t necessarily its main rival, citing the Toyota as a more fleet-friendly offering, whereas the Blue Oval is all about chasing private sales these days. Go figure.

In truth, the Camry is a significant rival, but Ford also has Subaru and its resurgent Liberty, the Mazda6, VW Passat and other mid-sizers in its sights with the new-from-the-ground-up Mondeo.

Ford has positioned its newbie a little higher up the scale than the seven-and-a-half-year-old outgoing model, but some lesser variants provide a more accessible point of entry.

The range starts at $32,790, plus on-road costs, for the less powerful (more on that later) Ambiente EcoBoost petrol hatch, climbing to $49,340 for the diesel Titanium wagon.

That pricing puts it in the realm of the Mazda6 ($32,540-$50,290), Hyundai i40 ($31,990-$47,590), Honda Accord ($31,490-$51,990), while undercutting others such as the VW Passat ($38,990-$46,990).

While Ford USA offers a sedan version of the virtually identical Fusion, Ford Australia is sticking with the hatch and wagon only in Australia, which adds a point of difference in the sedan-centric mid-size segment. A smart decision we think.

Even though the design has been floating around for three years, the Mondeo is visually appealing, particularly at the front where it carries what we think is the best version of Ford’s corporate look dominated by the trapezoidal grille.

Depending on the spec, the LED daytime running lights add to the strong, aggressive design. The shape is roughly the same as the outgoing model, but is sleeker and sportier, while the rear end of the hatch is somewhat similar to the previous-gen.

We reckon the looker of the range has to be the Titanium wagon, which adds a honeycomb grille, and a bodykit incorporating front and side sills. It has more than a whiff of the Focus or Fiesta ST about it.

Despite featuring roughly the same dimensions as the car it replaces, it looks large in the flesh, and thankfully that spaciousness carries across to the cabin.

The Mondeo has never been accused of being cramped, and the 2015 iteration maintains that, with ample head and legroom up front, while the rear offers acres of knee-room, with some foot-room impeded slightly when sitting behind our own driving position. But that is for a 183cm-tall gentleman.

Headroom in the second row of the wagon is unsurprisingly ample, but the hatch also offers plenty of room, despite the sloping roofline meeting the hatch.

Thankfully Ford is slowly but surely moving away from the awful and bulbous Nokia-phone-from-2001 cluster of controls in the centre stack to a more neutral and clean look, focused on the 8.0-inch touchscreen that is standard across the range.

In the Mondeo, it is a welcome departure from the fascias in the Focus/Fiesta/Kuga, and while it is uncluttered and functional, the overall dash design is a tad on the conservative side.

Ford has angled the stack a little to try and give it a cockpit-like feel, which it achieves to an extent, perhaps not as successfully as some current Mazda offerings.

Storage is ample, and there is a sizeable area to keep small to medium-sized items under the centre stack.

Some of the fittings in the cabin felt a touch cheap in all grades, with some of the alumiunium look panels feeling insufficiently secured. In Ambiente and Trend, that aluminium look is everywhere in the cabin and it does not create a premium effect. In the Titanium, however, it changes to a darker colour and is much more affective.

The seats feel slightly over-cushioned, but the materials – cloth on Ambiente, leather faced on Trend and full leather on Titanium – are an acceptable quality.

Shuffling through the different variants on our drive day in and around our nation’s capital, we found the flagship Titanium lacked the high-end touches that can differentiate a $45k car from its $33k base version.

Perhaps some different coloured trims, two-tone interior or other more premium touches might have lifted it slightly.

Despite these quibbles, the Mondeo’s cabin is a very pleasant place to spend a few hours driving. It feels solid, safe and quiet, with Ford’s noise, vibration and harshness improvements doing wonders for the car’s hushed ride.

Also, Ford has loaded the car up from the entry level Ambiente with a strong standard features list. Safety, comfort and infotainment are well covered, with inflatable rear seatbelts, Ford’s MyKey system that allows parents to set a top speed for younger drivers, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen that includes the SYNC2 connectivity system housing sat-nav, Bluetooth and voice recognition.

We sang the praises of SYNC2 following the Falcon and Territory launch late last year, and we still believe it is one of the superior connectivity systems on the market.

One small niggle was the lack of rear airvents in the Ambiente, which seems like an unnecessary omission.

The boot of the hatch looks huge, with 458 litres with all seats up and 1356 litres with the second row folded. In contrast, Mazda’s 6 offers 483 litres, but the Mondeo’s appears larger.

The first Mondeo we sampled was the Trend petrol, which uses a new 177kW/345Nm 2.0-litre EcoBoost unit and, like all variants, is matched with a silky six-speed auto.

Around town, this engine is smooth and punchy without elevating the performance to exciting. Power delivery is smooth and consistent and the straight-line performance will be more than enough punch for most potential buyers.

We found that steering in the petrol versions is not as sharp as we hoped, with slow reaction to turn-in and when leaving roundabouts, for example. Steering feel is on the lighter side, but pleasant.

The Mondeo feels like a big car on the road and pushing into tight bends and corners revealed its heft (1605kg-1782kg depending on the variant) but it didn’t come unstuck on our test drive, aside form the odd tyre screech from the 16s during more spirited driving around tighter bends.

Ford have chosen to offer a less powerful 149kW/345Nm version of the EcoBoost engine in the base Ambiente hatch and wagon, while petrol versions of the Trend and Titanium get the 177kW unit.

We had a brief spin in the 149kW hatch and could not tell the difference in power delivery or acceleration performance to the 177kW version. Again, most buyers will be more than happy with either engine.

The sweet spot in the range, at least in terms of drive impressions, is the diesel. The revised 132kW/400Nm 2.0-litre TDCi engine is good for an official combined fuel consumption figure of 5.1 litres per 100 kilometres (the petrol ranges between 8.2-8.5L depending on hatch or wagon).

It also happens to be a terrific performer, with virtually no lag on take-off, and loads of torque, hitting its peak between 2000-2500 for smooth and energetic acceleration and easy overtaking.

Ford says the diesel has been the top pick for buyers of the previous-generation Mondeo, and we reckon that could continue with this version.

The Blue Oval’s local development team have worked wonders on the new rear suspension set up to provide a comfortable, uncomplicated ride, combined with a solid chassis for great body control.

Ford’s latest Mondeo is a step up from the previous-gen model, which was a highly regarded car, even in its twilight years.

The Blue Oval faces a challenge with the Mondeo and getting the Australian public to notice it in the sea of high-riding SUVs, lower-end premium cars and top-quality mid-size contenders such as the excellent Mazda6.

We hope Ford Australia can get the message out. While the Mondeo does not change the game in any way, nor does it necessarily excel in any one particular area – it is, overall, an excellent package.

It offers impressive standard specification, high-tech safety gear, a sweet ride, and overall strong performance, plus it looks handsome, and it is priced right.

Welcome back Mondeo.

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