Car reviews - Ford - Mondeo - sedan/hatch range
Great handling, good ride, upmarket interior, fresh and bold styling, top practicality, impressive turbo engines and transmissions
Room for improvement
XR5 doesn’t match expectations, no cruise on base model, no auto for XR5, $3000 diesel premium is pricey, special ‘XR5’ wheels also shared with cooking varieties
19 Oct 2007
THE Mondeo is a very good thing. It’s not perfect and Ford Australia has made some strange decisions in regard to specification levels, but the new model is about to make a serious impact in the crowded mid-sized segment.
It is a visually striking car, handles well, is quite refined and is generally excellent value for money.
The base model has a lot going for it.
With an automatic transmission, ESC and seven airbags standard, it represents fantastic value.
To get the start price under $30,000, Ford Australia opted to leave out cruise control and alloy wheels.
Leaving out alloys is one thing, but cruise control is now very important if you want to keep your licence.
The fact customers have to shell-out $1500 to get cruise control in a pack with alloy wheels is not good.
Look past this issue and the LX model is very attractive.
The base engine is not a stunner, and the fuel consumption is approaching six-cylinder territory, but it is adequate.
Its six-speed automatic is impressive, especially for a base model, with quick and smooth changes.
The tiptronic mode is also handy when you want to keep it locked in a lower gear.
That can be the case when traveling up hills or when you want to overtake as the engine isn’t oozing with power.
That said, it is a reasonable smooth engine and will be adequate for most driving conditions.
One of the first things you notice when sliding into the LX model is the upmarket interior.
Its plastic surfaces look like they belong to a more expensive car and the join lines are all uniformly precise.
Metal-look surfacing is used for the central dashboard area and chrome strips are applied to various parts of the interior on places like door handles, rings around the air-vents and around the transmission housing.
Most of the plastic surfaces are nice and soft, which not only feel nice to touch, but can also increase comfort.
It’s a small touch, but the centre console edges are lined with the soft plastic so it is comfy when the driver rests their left knee. There is a footrest for the driver and the armrests are also soft and comfortable. All this means the car is very comfortable for long hauls.
Six-speed transmissions across the range also assist in highway cruising as all Mondeos sit on just 2000rpm at highway speed, rather than buzzing away and tiring the occupants.
The suspension tuning for the LX as well as the Zetec and TDCi models is quite compliant. It is not overly soft, but comfortable. The body control is good, but it doesn’t sit as flat in the corners as a BMW. It is, however, far more comfortable.
The steering is spot-on with lovely feedback and precise control.
Ford says 20 per cent of Mondeos sold will be diesels. This number could well be higher, but then again it is quite a bit more expensive.
It is a lovely torquey engine which is smooth and relatively quiet.
The drivetrain isolation of all Mondeos, including the diesel, is excellent.
It is so quite that many passengers will struggle to tell whether it is a diesel or not.
Because it costs $3000 more than a petrol unit, it is the performance, rather than economy, that is likely to attract the diesel buyers.
This diesel pulls like an ox, without any fuss.
It works well with the six-speed auto and the combination is best described as effortless.
While the interior looks essentially the same as the LX, optioning up the Zetec or TDCi model with the $1900 leather seats transforms it into a prestige car that gives every impression it is far more expensive than it really is.
Sliding into the XR5 Turbo Mondeo actually proved disappointing.
The engine is still mighty and pulls hard in any gear and the seats are brilliant, but it doesn’t live up to the XR5 badge.
The lumpy exhaust note that makes the XR5 Focus such a thrill to drive is missing. In fact, the exhaust note is almost non-existent.
Despite its sports suspension, the Mondeo XR5 is not in the same class as the Focus version when it comes to agility and the extra kilos take the edge off the performance.
While the bigger wheels and different suspension do see the ride quality deteriorate somewhat on bumpy roads, the XR5 Mondeo is generally a luxurious and comfortable car.
Its aggressive tyre tread does mean more tyre noise disturbs the cockpit. Other models are far quieter and there is also not very much engine or wind-noise.
The seats not only look great, but are lovely and supportive. The colour centre display screen that sits in the instrument cluster looks upmarket and some owners will like the push-button keyless start system.
This is a good car for cruising in, but is certainly not what you expect from an XR5 model.
Given its nature, it is surprising that the XR5 Mondeo is manual-only as it would be much better as an automatic.
Ford Europe simply hasn’t engineered an auto for the XR5 yet, but this could come at some stage down the track.
The XR5 model looks good with its bodykit and those fantastic wheels that have been such a hit on the Focus XR5.
Unfortunately, Ford Australia decided to use the same wheel pattern, albeit one-inch smaller, on the Zetec and TDCi diesel models.
This design should be exclusive to XR5 models as many Zetec and diesel models will now be mistaken for XR5s, taking away one of the reasons to dig out the extra cash and buy an XR5 in the first place.
All the Mondeos have good interior space.
Most families with two kids will find it has more than enough room for them.
There is a huge amount of legroom in the back, as well plenty of headroom in both the hatch and the sedan.
Like almost all new cars, the rear centre seat features a fold-down armrest when the car is carrying two people. That’s nice for them, but as a result, the centre seat is very, very firm.
Any child who draws the short straw and has to sit in the middle is likely to become uncomfortable pretty soon.
On paper, the sedan has more cargo space, but the hatch is the best choice for practicality.
The sedan’s boot is big, but the rear opening is relatively narrow and some taller items won’t fit.
The hatch cargo area is tall and wide. The only criticism here is that there is no grab handle to open and close the hatch.
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