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Driven: Mondeo kicks off Ford’s ‘product avalanche’

On trial: German transport authorities are investigating the 2.0-litre diesel engine used in the Ford Mondeo over the potential use of an emissions defeat device.

With supply issues resolved, Ford hopes to make gains with all-new Mondeo

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Ford logo9 Apr 2015

By TIM NICHOLSON

FORD Australia hopes to regain lost sales momentum when its all-new fourth-generation Mondeo mid-sizer belatedly rolls into dealerships early next month as the company’s technology flagship.

The Mondeo's journey to the Australian market started three years ago when the car made its public debut as the American-market Fusion in January 2012 at the Detroit motor show.

Ford delayed the European and consequently the Australian introduction of the Mondeo as it shut one factory and ramped up another, with the car only now reaching our shores.

Describing the Mondeo as “the most technologically advanced Ford vehicle ever introduced in Europe”, the American car-maker has thrown loads of tech gadgets at it, including a new crash avoidance system with pedestrian detection capabilities, a new air filter than blocks up to 99 per cent of pollen, and inflatable rear seatbelts.

Speaking with GoAuto at the Mondeo media launch in Canberra this week, Ford Australia general manager of marketing David Katic said supply issues had plagued the car-maker for a number of years and impacted Mondeo sales Down Under.

“Seventy-five per cent of the mix on old Mondeo was diesel and we have been really supply constrained out of Europe for diesel in particular,” he said. “On top of that we changed sourcing from Genk (Belgium) to Valencia (Spain) and that meant we had a delay.

“So the last two-to-three years we have been severely supply constrained. Which has been really frustrating because we know we are capable of doing much better.”

Mr Katic said supply was now flowing, initiating a “product avalanche” starting with Mondeo in 2015.

“We will have good supply and be able to get going with the product,” he said.

“This is the first of a heap of product launches this year – Ranger, Everest, Focus, Mustang, Mondeo.

“It is a good opportunity for us to rebuild and get back in that segment and get going again for us with what we think is a really competent product.”

Some of the Mondeo’s highest sales were recorded in 2011 when it shifted 6626 units to be the second best-selling mid-size car behind the Toyota Camry.

Just two years later in 2013 it found 3089 homes in Australia to slip behind the Mazda6 and the Volkswagen Passat on the sales charts.

While Ford sees the fleet-favoured Camry as its direct rival, Mr Katic said other brands were in the mix as well, including Subaru and its recently launched Liberty. The Mazda6, Hyundai Sonata, Holden Malibu, Nissan Altima, Skoda Octavia, Honda Accord and Kia Optima are just a few other potential competitors.

As previously reported, pricing for the Mondeo range kicks off at $32,790, plus on-road costs, for the base Ambiente EcoBoost hatch, which is $1300 dearer than the outgoing entry level LX.

While at $36,640, the Ambiente EcoBoost wagon is $3850 more expensive than the hatch, all other wagon variants add just $1850 on to the price of their hatch equivalents.

Ford has ditched both the LX and Zetec model names, bringing the Mondeo into line with the rest of the company’s passenger and SUV range, with Ambiente, Trend and Titanium.

Most variants are slightly dearer than predecessors, but the Trend EcoBoost hatch is $450 cheaper than the outgoing Zetec at $37,290.

Diesel-powered variants carry a $3200 premium over the EcoBoost petrol Trend and Titanium hatches, while the Ambiente oiler adds $4000 to the petrol equivalent. The wagon is offered only as a diesel in Trend and Titanium guises, but with a choice of the less-powerful petrol or the diesel in base Ambiente grade.

The sales split is expected to be 33 per cent for each variant, while the hatch will make up 75 per cent of overall sales, according to Mr Katic.

All Mondeos are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission as standard – there is no manual option – with the EcoBoost petrols getting a SelectShift unit, while the diesel uses a PowerShift.

The 2.0-litre four-cylinder EcoBoost petrol engine that also figures in a number of other Ford models, including the Australian-built EcoBoost Falcon, comes in two states of tune.

Ambiente variants get the 149kW/345Nm version in hatch and wagon, while Trend and Titanium hatches get a bit of extra kick with 177kW and the same amount of torque.

While the power output of the base variants remains the same as the outgoing EcoBoost versions, it gains a 45Nm torque boost over the model it replaces.

Ford has ditched the 118kW/208Nm natural aspirated four-cylinder in its previous base models.

The revised Duratorq 2.0-litre TDCi diesel engine produces 132kW/400Nm, or 12kW/60Nm more than the old model, and Ford happily points out that its average combined fuel economy figure of 5.1 litres per 100 kilometres for the hatch is better than the Toyota Camry Hybrid’s 5.2L/100km figure.

With the Mondeo wagon, fuel consumption creeps up to 5.3L/100km. Both figures easily beat the old model’s 5.9-6.2L range, depending on body style and variant.

Carbon dioxide emissions are 135 grams per kilometre for the diesel hatch and 140g/km for the wagon, while the EcoBoost ranges from 192 to 199g/km.

Interestingly, fuel use seems to have increased for the 149kW petrol unit from 8.0L to 8.2L, but it betters the now defunct 118kW four-pot’s 9.5L/100km number. Petrol wagons add 0.3L/100km.

Helping keep fuel economy down, particularly with the diesel variants, is a 10 per cent more aerodynamic design, active grille shutters that close at high speeds to reduce drag, idle-stop, and an active thermal management system to improve warm-up times.

The Mondeo is the first Ford built using its global C-D platform that will underpin a number of new-gen vehicles, including the Edge SUV and several Lincoln-badged models.

Ford engineers covered more than 1.5 million kilometres testing the Mondeo, which introduces a new integral-link rear suspension that allows the wheels to move rearwards when they hit bumps for a smoother ride and reduced noise levels.

Noise, vibration and harshness have improved, thanks to more seals and different insulation materials.

Systems such as torque vectoring control help to improve handling and ride comfort, while the electric power steering has modes that match the Comfort, Normal and Sport chassis settings from the Continuous Control Damping that is standing on higher-spec variants.

On more generously specified variants, Ford offers its adaptive front lighting system that adjusts the beam angle, depending on the driving environment. It has seven settings according to speed, light conditions, steering angle and distance to the car ahead.

Continuing its theme of bettering the segment-leading Camry, Ford claims the Mondeo will offer 10 advanced technologies not available on the Toyota rival, such as inflatable rear seatbelts standard across the range and the MyKey programmable ignition key that allows parents to set things including top speed and phone reception for younger drivers.

In the cabin, the Mondeo has soft-touch materials, a digital-analogue instrument cluster and a wrap-around console for “cockpit-like feel”, while the front seat backs are thinner than before for extra rear legroom.

The fourth-gen mid-sizer is longer, narrower and lower than before but has the same 2850mm wheelbase, despite it being new from the ground up.

Ford’s SYNC2 system with voice activation is standard across the range, while other features on all variants include the 8.0-inch high-res touch screen, electric park brake, emergency assistance system that contacts emergency services if the driver is incapacitated after an accident and the vehicle is connected to a mobile phone network, hill launch assist, paddle shifters and a driver fatigue monitor.

Ambiente starts with 16-inch alloys, fog-lights, front and rear parking sensors, LED tail-lights, follow-me-home lighting, load-leveling suspension in Ambiente and Trend wagons only, cruise control, dual-zone climate control, leather steering wheel and gear shifter, cloth seats, 60/40 split fold rear seats, Bluetooth as part of SYNC2, DAB+ digital radio and trailer sway control.

Trend kicks off at $37,290 for the EcoBoost hatch and tops out at $42,340 for the diesel wagon adds dual exhausts, puddle lamps, auto-folding exterior mirrors, keyless entry, adaptive cruise, lane-keep assist, push-button start, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, 10-way powered driver and passenger seats, heated front seats, rain-sensing wipers, partial leather seats, auto headlights and high-beam, idle-stop and 17-inch alloys.

The Titanium ranges in price from $44,290 to $49,340 and gains a bodykit with front and side skirts, a power tailgate, adaptive suspension, signature lighting, panoramic roof, sports leather-faced seats, heated rear seats, ambient lighting and aluminium pedal covers.

This variant also carries active safety gear such as blind-spot warning, Ford’s Pre-Collision Assist with the new pedestrian detection technology, an enhanced automated parking system that gets you in, as well as out of a tight space, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping aid, and a driver fatigue monitor.

A reversing camera is standard on Trend and Titanium, but Ford has confirmed that from June production, it will be standard on all variants including the Ambiente.

Ford Mondeo pricing*
Hatch
Ambiente EcoBoost (a)$32,790
Ambiente TDCi (a)$36,790
Trend EcoBoost (a)$37,290
Trend TDCi (a)$40,490
Titanium EcoBoost (a)$44,290
Titanium TDCi (a)$47,490
Wagon
Ambiente EcoBoost (a)$36,640
Ambiente TDCi (a)$38,640
Trend TDCi (a)$42,340
Titanium TDCi (a)$49,340
*Excludes on-road costs.

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