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First drive: Ford sends Mondeo on fleet mission

You choose: Ford's updated Mondeo will be aimed at business fleet user-choosers.

Ford takes aim at user-choosers with Mondeo’s broader, tailored range

17 Aug 2009

FORD hopes its new Mondeo wagon can woo at least half of all Mondeo buyers as it seeks to double sales of its Belgian-built midsized series to about 10,000 units a year.

Launched last week in Melbourne, the MB Mondeo differs from its virtually identical MA predecessor in that it has been specified to appeal to Australian fleet buyers and user-choosers.

The availability of a practical wagon body for a $1000 premium over the base $31,990 LX hatch, offering more cargo volume than the $41,290 Holden VE Commodore Omega Sportwagon, is only the first step in winning over fleet operators with a model that has previously been strongly focussed towards the private buyer.

Ford says the whole Mondeo range goes further for the money with the standard fitment of previously optional features such as voice-controlled Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, auto on-off headlights, cruise control and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

The addition of the range-topping Titanium level also introduces high-tech items such as radar-controlled cruise control, collision mitigation emergency brake preparation, swivelling headlights and true keyless entry and start functionality in an affordable and mainstream mid-sized package.

27 center imageThey sit above the usual Mondeo fare of seven airbags, anti-lock brakes with Electronic Brake-force Distribution and Emergency Brake Assist, stability control, air-conditioning, remote central locking and power windows.

These, along with the option of a diesel engine – with a diesel wagon joining the existing TDCi hatch by the end of this year – should sway some of the increasing number of people who choose their vehicles as part of a salary package the Mondeo’s way.

“Certainly, fuel economy leadership is something we want to be on the front foot with because we have the product to match up with the competition with fuel economy,” says Ford Australia’s vice president for sales and marketing, Beth Donovan.

“We had originally launched the Mondeo to go head-on to the private buyers.

“But we’ve now said: ‘Hey, we can do a lot more with the non-private buyer’ so we talked to our customers and asked them what they want from the wagon and they said they’d really like it to be a tool for their business.

“Customers today expect that they will have things like (Bluetooth) connectivity with their phones … so that’s a choice we’re going to make for the customer.”

Mrs Donovan said Ford would make the latter feature a fact in its advertisements for the Mondeo when it airs from August 23, following in the steps of similar fact-based commercials for the Focus TDCi and Falcon.

But Ford is still hoping to make more hay with the well-equipped and spacious (542-1733-litre cargo area) Zetec wagon in the Mondeo’s private buyer heartland against wagon rivals such as the Mazda6, Volkswagen Passat and the imminent all-new Subaru Liberty, while the Titanium hatch model adds these and the likes of the Honda Accord Euro Luxury to its crosshairs. As GoAuto reported last week, the MA Mondeo in (now discontinued) sedan and hatch guise managed 4872 sales last year, for 7.2 per cent of its sub-$60,000 medium segment.

However, while sales for the first seven months of 2009 slid by 563 units compared to the same period last year, the Mondeo’s market share rose 0.3 per cent (to the 2008 7.2 per cent average) in a sector that is down 23.6 per cent.

Led by its renewed fleet focus, Ford believes the Mondeo is now ideally placed to capitalise on its growing market traction.

“We’ve had (fleet) customers come up to us and say that they will put the Mondeo wagon on their lists,” Mrs Donovan said.

“Because it has more cubic inches of cargo volume than Commodore Sportwagon, as well as better fuel economy … but they also want a driver’s car and enough space for their family.

“This also makes it a great alternative to a small SUV, sedan or hatch.

“So with think that the Mondeo wagon is a niche, and we understand that there are not a lot of other players in the market that have a wagon, but we think this is all the more reason why Mondeo will resonate.

“(Ford Australia president) Marin (Burela) has said that Mondeo has to double sales, and clearly the wagon is a very big component of that.”

To recap, the MB Mondeo is available in eight models for the time being – LX petrol hatch and wagon, Zetec petrol hatch and wagon, Zetec TDCi diesel hatch, Titanium petrol hatch, Titanium TDCi diesel hatch, and XR5 Turbo petrol hatch.

Related to the GG Mazda6 powerplant, the petrol engine is a 2.3-litre twin-cam 16-valve four-cylinder unit delivering 118kW of power at 6500rpm and 208Nm of torque at 4200rpm.

It drives the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission with a sequential shift option.

The fuel consumption comes in at 9.5 litres per 100km, with a carbon dioxide emissions rating of 227 grams per kilometre.

The turbo-diesel 2.0-litre twin-cam 16-valve Duratorq TDCi mill gains 6kW, producing 103kW at 4000rpm and 320Nm between 1750 and 2240rpm.

Co-devised with PSA Peugeot Citroen, it delivers 7.3L/100km and a CO2 figure of 193g/km.

Finally, Volvo supplies the 2.5-litre in-line five-cylinder turbo engine.

It has 162kW at 5000rpm and 320Nm from 1500-4800rpm, yet returns the same 9.5L/100km and 227g/km of CO2 as the 2.3 litres, but is only available with a six-speed manual gearbox.

Built on a stretched version of the current-generation Focus small-car platform, the MB Mondeo employs MacPherson strut front suspension and multi-link independent rear suspension, called Control Blade. The steering is a hydraulically powered rack-and-pinion set-up.

The hatch has 528 litres of boot space while the wagon’s cargo capacity hovers between 542 litres and 1733 litres with the rear seats down in the horizontal position.

Both body types come standard with a space-saver spare wheel.

Key LX features include a six-speed automatic transmission, air-conditioning, Bluetooth, cruise control, electric windows in the front only, radio/CD/MP3 audio and 16-inch steel wheels.

The Zetec adds 17-inch alloy wheels, front fog lamps, dual-zone climate control, premium Sony CD sound, USB music port, front and rear parking sensors, rain sensing wipers, automatic headlights and front and rear electric windows.

Compared with the previous MA Mondeo Zetec, the new car features Ford’s high-series digitised instrument panel that was previously reserved solely for the XR5 Turbo.

The latter, by the way, gains new seats, wheel designs, and Bi-Xenon HID headlight system with static cornering lights – but at a $1000 premium over the MA version.

Besides the aforementioned Adaptive Cruise Control, cornering headlights and forward collision warning system, the Titanium sits on firmer ‘sports’ suspension and 18-inch alloy wheels, and boasts a body kit, Alcantara and leather sports seats, a sunroof, and keyless entry and start.

2009 Ford Mondeo range pricing:
LX 5-dr hatch (a) $31,990
LX wagon (a) $32,990
Zetec 5-dr hatch (a) $36,990
Zetec wagon (a) $37,990
Zetec TDCi 5-dr hatch (a) $39,990
Titanium 5-dr hatch (a) $42,990
XR5 Turbo 5-dr hatch $44,990
Titanium TDCi 5-dr hatch (a) $45,990

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