Car reviews - Ford - Mondeo - Titanium
Plenty of safety tech on offer, diesel powerplant a credible performer
Room for improvement
It does nothing badly, per se, but it fails to excite in any way
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23 Jun 2015
By TIM ROBSON
Price and equipment
RELEASED in the United States in 2012 as the American-market Fusion, the Mondeo has finally made the long journey Down Under – and, according to Ford, it won’t be held to supply line ransom as the previous model was, especially in diesel spec. Price revisions across the board see very slight rises, but it evens out with more standard spec across the trimmed-down range than before.
The Titanium TDCi tested here tops the three-level Mondeo line-up, and is priced at $47,490 in hatch form before on-road costs. It brings to the fore Ford’s renewed focus (pardon the pun) on cramming its cars with loads of high-tech spec, with a raft of electronic updates not before seen in Ford sedans.
Its list of gear is long and reasonably distinguished, with few omissions.
Dual-zone climate control, SYNC2 infotainment system with digital radio, leather throughout with heated front and rear seats, LED tail-lights and keyless entry with push-button start are not a bad start – but it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Adaptive cruise, control, lane-keeping assist, auto lights and wipers, adaptive suspension, panoramic roof, 17-inch alloys, a rearview camera with front and rear sensors, blind-spot warning, a pre-collision assist system with pedestrian detection technology, an enhanced automated parking system that gets you in, as well as out of, tight spaces, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping aid, and a driver fatigue monitor are also standard on the Titanium.
As we said – stacked.
The interior of the Mondeo is light, bright and immediately gives the impression that there’s loads of space. Part of that lightness is due to the opaque panoramic roof cover it doesn’t block light completely. The front seats are wide and comfortable, with plenty of adjustment in all – actually, ten to be precise – directions. They also sit low to the floor.
The rear seats, too, are broad and comfortable, with a heating option on the outside pews. Airbag-equipped belts are a first for an Aussie-spec sedan, too.
Even with the long sunroof installed, there’s plenty of head and shoulder room even for larger adults, while leg-room is very good.
Storage space around the cabin is commendable, with a load of room freed up in the front with the fitment of an electric handbrake.
The hatch design translates into a long, flat load space in the rear, although the slope of the tailgate ultimately compromises the height of the load. Still, for a family car, there’s a tonne of space back there. Nice to see a full-sized spare under the floor, too.
Lashings of piano-lacquer trim thankfully stops on the right side of being too garish, while sharply angled pieces of brightwork add sophistication to what is a surprisingly low-key dash and centre console treatment.
Of course, Ford wants you to do all of your best work via its SYNC2 voice-activated set up – but the truth of it is that, like the majority of voice systems out there, it’s just not up to the task of taking over even basic functionality. Its instruction requirements to even change a radio station were frustrating at best, leading drivers to revert to the touchscreen to execute changes.
And while there’s loads of adjustability and personalisation available in the Mondeo, a lot of it is buried away under layers of sub-menus in odd places. To adjust the three-mode suspension, for example, it needs to be accessed via the dashboard’s small centre display, via two menus.
If you’re not fond of pushing buttons, you’ll quickly grow tired of looking for things – and you’ll never change a single setting on the car. Sure, there is a learning curve with a new car, and we hope that dealers spend a bit of time with new customers showing the ropes, but simple and straightforward it isn’t.
Still, on balance, the Mondeo is a comfortable place to be, both front and back.
Engine and transmission
Powered by Ford’s torquey TDCi 2.0-litre turbocharged four-pot diesel, the Mondeo makes 132kW at 3500rpm, and a healthy 400Nm of torque between 2000 and 2500rpm.
Its character is low-key and quite refined for an oiler, and there’s plenty of mid-range torque to waft along on. There’s some lag underfoot when asked the question initially, much of that due to the Mondeo’s pretty hefty kerb weight of 1700-odd kilograms.
The dual-clutch six-speeder is a good device, though, and a pair of paddles allow for manual override should the mood strike you.
Fuel consumption is rated at 5.1 litres per 100 kilometres over 350km of varied terrain, our best was 5.7 L/100km. With its 70-litre tank, it has a theoretical range of over 1000km between refills.
The diesel also features grille shutters that close automatically when cooling isn’t required, minimising drag and improving economy.
Ride and handling
The Mondeo’s biggest negative here is the steering feel from its electrically controlled system there basically isn’t a lot going on under the fingers. It also needs a bit more input from the driver than one might expect, especially at low speeds.
We prefer the middle setting on its three-stage adaptive dampers it is too soft and unresponsive in the Comfort setting, while Sport mode offers a sharp, brittle ride that is exacerbated by the top-spec 18-inch rims and low-profile Continental tyres.
Roll is held nicely in check, though it’s obvious the chassis tune leans more towards the rigours of the city run rather than towards the open road. Brake feel is good, with a high pedal and good modulation.
Noise intrusion into the interior is pleasingly low, and the diesel engine does a great job of hiding its clatter from the cabin.
Overall, the driving experience is largely positive, though it’s not the first choice of vehicle for a spirited back-road blast.
Safety and servicing
The Mondeo has a five-star ANCAP safety rating and, as mentioned, is rammed with safety tech features. Among its nine airbags are seatbelt-mounted airbags for the outside rear-seat passengers and a large suite of active and passive safety electronics that include active safety stop and lane-departure control.
Ford offers a Price Promise program for its range of cars, and its calculator indicates that a one-year/15,000km service should cost $385. It also offers membership to an auto club for seven years or 105,000km, as well as the offer of a loan car during a scheduled service.
It could be argued that the Falcon doesn’t need replacing. The exodus towards SUVs of all shapes and persuasions continues to chip away at the former dominance of the sedan, which basically means any competitor in the sedan space needs to have all the boxes ticked.
The Mondeo is quiet, refined and competent, but it simply lacks sparkle. It’s a bit of a puzzle, as European-spec Fords that have come before it – Focus, Fiesta – have it in spades.
It could also be argued that it sits at the high end of the pricing spectrum, notwithstanding its high level of standard spec. In this category, that’s a major obstacle.
Toyota Camry, from $26,490, plus on-road costs
The runaway category leader is also the Mondeo’s biggest competition in the fleet sector. May miss out on some high-end safety spec, but wins on value for money.
Subaru Liberty, from $29,990, plus on-road costs
Sharp pricing thanks to the free-trade agreement with Japan, plus a pleasing redesign, has seen a surge in the sales charts for the evergreen all-wheel-drive wagon.
Hyundai i40 CRDI, from $34,590, plus on-road costs
A very convincing mid-size package, designed in Europe and built for the world. Excellent drivetrain, too.
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