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Ford goes after Camry with Mondeo

Safer: Ford’s new-generation Mondeo gets a range-wide emergency assistance system that springs into action after a crash to call emergency services.

Delayed Ford Mondeo set to wage war against Camry on fuel efficiency and safety

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Ford logo19 Nov 2014

By RON HAMMERTON

FORD Australia is going for the Toyota Camry jugular with its new fourth-generation Mondeo, talking up the superior safety features and diesel fuel-economy of its Euro-built mid-sizer over the locally built market leader.

To be launched in Australia about February next year – more than a year late due to a last-minute factory switch from Belgium to Spain – the new MC Mondeo will take over as Ford’s key family car when the local Falcon gets the chop in 2016.

To get the ball rolling, Ford has released basic 2015 Mondeo range details, along with a claim that the new optional diesel engine will be more efficient than the Camry Hybrid.

As well, the new Mondeo will get a range of features not found on Camry’s list, including world-first inflating rear seat belts.

Pricing has been held back until December, but Ford sources suggest Mondeo will be priced competitively with Camry that starts at $30,490 plus on-road costs for the Altise. The outgoing Mondeo starts at $31,490, topping out at $48,490.

Unlike Camry sedan, Mondeo will be offered in its current five-door configurations, in lift-back hatch and wagon, initially powered by either EcoBoost turbo petrol engines or TDCi diesel, both mated to a new-generation six-speed dual-clutch Powershift automatic transmission.

The 2.0-litre EcoBoost is expected to be the carryover 149kW/300Nm unit. No mention was made of the proposed 133kW/240Nm 1.5-litre three-cylinder powertrain that will be launched in Europe next year, but that is expected to be added later, perhaps alongside a more powerful 176kW version of the 2.0-litre EcoBoost engine as a performance flagship.

The hybrid version offered in the US Fusion has been ruled out, with Ford Australia opting for the European diesel.

Ford has confirmed three specification levels – Ambiente, Trend and Titanium – replacing the current LX, Zetec and Titanium.

Ford Australia says the Duratorq diesel engine in new Mondeo – expected to produce 120kW and 340Nm – will offer better fuel economy than Camry Hybrid, with no compromise on performance. However, it did not offer fuel consumption or performance figures.

The Australian-built petrol-electric Camry achieves 5.2 litres per 100km on the combined test cycle, and accelerates from standstill to 100km/h in 7.8 seconds.

The superseded Mondeo TDCi is credited with fuel economy of 5.9L/100km in LX hatch and 6.2L/100km in other models.

Ford says Mondeo will offer 10 advanced technologies not available on Camry, including inflatable rear seatbelts across the range and Ford’s MyKey programmable ignition key that allows parents to set parameters such as top speed and phone call reception for younger drivers.

Among other features – some optional – are an emergency assistance system that kicks in to call 000 after a smash, SYNC2 voice activated controls, eight-inch touch screen electric parking brake, hill launch assist, paddle shifters, driver fatigue monitor and a range of the latest driver safety aids such as lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, automated parking and city anti-crash system to avoid rear-end collisions up to 30km/h.

The body design is all new, at least to Australia, sitting on the new Ford CD global platform that will spawn a variety of other Fords, including the upcoming new Taurus large car for North America.

Ford says the new body is 10 per cent stronger than before, with high strength steel pillars and roof rails. The hatch’s tailgate uses magnesium in its inner structure for a 40 per cent weight saving.

Mondeo’s styling was revealed on the American version, the Ford Fusion, way back in January 2012 at the Detroit motor show.

The now-familiar Ford trapezoidal grille is front and centre, finished in gloss black for Australia, while the hatch’s roofline is lower than before contributing to what Ford describes as a sports coupe profile.

Flagship Titanium wagon versions gets a retractable panoramic glass roof, which the hatch gets but as a fixed panoramic sunroof.

All Mondeos will be available in seven colours and get electric-assisted power steering for the first time, along with torque vectoring control for safer cornering.

The Mondeo was launched in Europe in October, a delay of more than a year due to a belated decision to close the Genk plant in Belgium – traditional home of Mondeo – and transfer production to Ford’s Valencia plant in Spain in search of improved quality.

Despite the dramas, the new Mondeo has been well received by the European motoring media, praising it for its ride and handling characteristics.

In Australia, Mondeo is the third best-selling medium-sized car, with 2722 sales this year to date, but it trails well behind the top-selling Camry (17,689 units) and Mazda6 (5035).

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