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First drive: Euro Mondeo is Ford's new medium

Euro-chic: New Mondeo's Belgian origins will be emphasised by Ford.

Sharp pricing puts Ford's first Mondeo in six years squarely in the mid-size melee

19 Oct 2007

FORD Australia is confident the Mondeo will be a success this time around, six years after it was dropped from showrooms.

The all-new Mondeo is a very different beast to the original car that failed to win the hearts and minds of Australians after its arrival in 1995. The latest generation of the mid-sized model is more stylish, refined and handles like a sporty European car should.

Better yet, the Australian range starts $29,990 and comes with electronic stability control and seven airbags as standard.

That price appears even sharper when you consider the base model comes standard with an automatic transmission, something that usually costs around $2000.

Ford is expecting its comeback kid to deliver sales of between 500 and 550 a month, taking advantage of a rejuvenated medium car segment that has increased from 49,000 in 2002 to 71,000 last year.

There is more competition than there was back then and the Mondeo will need to tackle cars like the $29,990 Mazda6, $33,990 Honda Accord Euro, $34,990 Subaru Liberty, $29,990 Chrysler Sebring, $28,290 Dodge Avenger and the higher grades of the mighty Toyota Camry range, which starts at $28,490.

Ford’s European-engineered sourcing policy means the Mondeo will sit well above Holden’s Epica, the Hyundai Sonata and Kia Magentis, which all kick-off at $25,990 appealing to more cost-conscious buyers in the segment.

Just in case journalists hadn’t noticed the Mondeo is from Europe, or Belgium to be specific, Ford Australia held this week’s national launch at the Belgian embassy in Canberra.

27 center imageThe company seemed far keener to emphasise the origin of the European Mondeo than the South African-built Focus, which Ford Australia instead promotes as European-engineered.

Given it has few European rivals in the medium car class, the Mondeo’s origin will be a key plank of its Euro-chic marketing approach. The new Ford Mondeo is the first model to showcase the company’s ‘kinetic’ design theme that will be spread across Ford Europe models.

Elements of this shape, including a trapezoidal lower air-dam and narrow headlights, will feature on the Orion Falcon that is due for release next April.

Ford Asia-Pacific design director Scott Strong said the role of the kinetic design theme was to make the cars look like they were moving even when the car was standing still.

He said Ford cars like the Mondeo had always been a sporty drive, but the styling had not suggested as much.

“The styling now matches the performance,” Mr Strong said. Ford Australia is introducing both five-door hatch and four-door sedan versions of the Mondeo, there are three specification grades, two petrol engines and a diesel.

The range starts off with the four-cylinder petrol LX sedan at $29,990. It steps up to the Zetec hatch and sedan which use the same engine as the LX and cost $34,990.

Next up are the diesel TDCi hatch and sedan which cost $37,990.

A five-cylinder XR5 turbo model is available only as a five-door hatch and costs $41,990.

The base LX and Zetec both run a 2.3-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with 118kW and 208Nm of torque.

It is linked to a six-speed automatic transmission and is not available with a manual.

The fuel consumption comes in at 9.5 litres per 100km, which is 0.4L/100km less thirsty than a Camry automatic.

Even so, the consumption level is actually not far off the official consumption figure of the larger six-cylinder Falcon equipped with a six-speed automatic, which uses 10.2L/100km.

The choice for real fuel misers will be the TDCi diesel Mondeo model which uses just 7.3L/100km.

That’s all good, but customers who hand over the $3000 premium to secure the diesel are more likely to have been attracted by its performance, and more specifically, its torque.

The 2.0-litre common-rail unit delivers 96kW and 320Nm of torque which is available from just 1750rpm.

Topping the engine line-up is the petrol 2.5-litre in-line five-cylinder turbo.

Borrowed from Volvo, this is the same engine that powers the slingshot Focus XR5.

It has 162kW and 320Nm and is only available with a six-speed manual gearbox.

You could expect the most potent engine in the range would drink more petrol than the base engine. That’s actually not the case, with the XR5 engine recording an official consumption figure of 9.5L/100km, matching the non-boosted four.

The new Mondeo is based on a Premier Automotive Group platform, which, strangely, is different to the next-generation Mazda6 base.

It uses MacPherson strut front suspension and multi-link independent rear suspension (called Control Blade) and has a wider track than the previous model Mondeo that never made it to Australia.

The new Mondeo has grown significantly and is now 4844mm long and 1886mm wide in sedan form and 4778mm long and 1886mm wide as a hatch.

It weighs more than the previous model, tipping the scales at between 1537kg and 1604kg.

Like pretty much all new cars, the Mondeo is significantly stiffer than the model it replaces - this time there is a claimed torsional stiffness improvement of between 116 and 130 per cent.

The steering is a traditional rack-and-pinion set-up and Ford has stuck with a hydraulic-assisted system rather than switching to a more economical electrically-assisted unit.

All Mondeos seat five people and feature a split/folding rear seat.

The hatch has 528 litres of boot space, while the sedan is slightly bigger with 535 litres.

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

All models come standard with electronic stability control, traction control and anti-lock brakes.

The airbag package includes front and side airbags for front passengers, side curtain airbags and a knee airbag for the driver.

Standard equipment for the base LX model includes air-conditioning, electric front windows, single-CD sound, steering wheel-mounted audio controls and driver’s seat lumbar adjustment.

In order to achieve the sharp entry-level price point for the base LX Mondeo automatic, Ford Australia left out some equipment.

Instead of alloy wheels, it makes do with 16-inch steel rims, has manual rear window winders (remember them?) and misses out on cruise control.

Perhaps aware that customers might miss these items, Ford is offering all of them, plus a leather-wrapped steering wheel, in an option pack for $1500.

Unfortunately, cruise control is not available separately.

This policy could indeed encourage some customers to step up to the automatic-only Zetec model, which has the same gear as the TDCi model.

It has all the gear that comes with the LX, plus 17-inch alloy wheels, fog-lights, a sporty grille, cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, dual zone climate-control, six-CD sound, rear power windows, automatic windscreen wipers, a leather wrapped steering wheel, passenger seat lumbar adjustment and an electrically adjustable driver’s seat.

Leather seat trim is available for the Zetec and TDCi models for $2000.

Stepping up to the XR5 Turbo adds a bodykit, 18-inch alloy wheels, sports suspension, leather and alcantara seat trim, keyless start, premium instrument cluster and large colour information and control screen and an anti-glare electrochromatic rear-view mirror.

The Zetec, TDCi and XR5 models can be fitted with a $1900 sunroof, while all models are available with $350 metallic paint and voice operated Bluetooth control for $450.

Ford Mondeo sedan/hatch pricing:
LX 4-dr sedan (a) $29,990
Zetec 4-dr sedan (a) $34,990
Zetec 5-dr hatch (a) $34,990
TDCi 4-dr sedan (a) $37,990
TDCi 5-dr hatch (a) $37,990
XR5 Turbo 5-dr hatch $41,990
Mondeo options:
Prestige paint $350
Voice control with Bluetooth $450
LX 'Cruise Pack' option (Cruise control, rear power windows, 16" alloy wheels, leather wrapped steering wheel) $1500
Sunroof (Zetec, TDCi and XR5 only) $1900
Leather trim with heated front seats (Zetec/TDCi only) $2000

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