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Ford Mondeo review 2015

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What is it? All-new Ford Mondeo is the latest version of Ford’s fleet favourite.
Key features: Wide powertrain choice including a hybrid, more tech, improved chassis.
Our view: a solid and impressive vehicle, although doesn’t quite come up to the standard of the new Volkswagen Passat

The UK launch date for the latest Ford Mondeo has for some time been a subject of discussion amongst motoring media – while very much part of the blue oval’s global ‘One Ford’ strategy, the car is finally reaching UK showrooms more than three years after its US equivalent, the Fusion, went on sale.

The delays have been for several reasons, not least the relocation of the car’s European production facility, and a Ford technician on the launch event was keen to emphasise that the time between US and Euro Mondeos has not been wasted, particularly in tuning the new chassis to suit our roads.

The D segment of traditional large family cars may have shrunken in recent years but it still accounts for plenty of sales, the vast majority to fleet buyers and thus the Mondeo is an important car for Ford – 1.4 million over four generations have been sold to UK buyers since it first replaced the Sierra in 1993.

It doesn’t dominate its rivals like its smaller sisters the Focus and Fiesta, because the biggest sellers in this market wear the premium badges of Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, but the Ford Mondeo is effectively the volume brand contender. As a comparison, BMW sold around 40,000 3 Series cars in the UK in 2014, the Mondeo 14,000. Ford says it is looking for first-year sales of 20,000 from the new model.

The new Ford Mondeo arrives like its predecessor in five-door hatch and estate styles, plus a single four-door offering this time, the first Mondeo hybrid. Ford says almost two thirds of buyers will choose the five-door, predicting estate sales of 35 per cent and three per cent for the hybrid, though according to sales head Andy Barratt early interest in the hybrid suggests that this figure may be conservative.

Slipping behind the wheel one can see that Ford has tried very hard to move the interior ambience upmarket. The spacious surroundings remain – you really can carry five adults long distances in reasonable comfort while retaining luggage capacity of 550 litres in the hatch. Fold the rear seats and load to the roof and you will get 1,466 litres in, but neither figure can beat Volkswagen’s four-door Passat.

Similarly while the trim and finish of the Mondeo is some of the best we’ve seen in a Ford, having the benefit of having tested the Passat only days before highlights the fact that the Mondeo still doesn’t come up to the standards of its Volkswagen rival – the plastics do not feel as expensive and they mark more easily.

The new Mondeo launches with two petrol, three diesel and the hybrid powertrain. The petrol units are of 1.5-litre 157bhp and 2.0 236bhp, but between them will account for just five per cent of sales. Similarly the official prediction for the 2.0 184bhp hybrid is three per cent, despite its 99g/km CO2 emissions figure.

No, it’s the three diesels that the mainly fleet user-chooser buyers will be interested in, and in particular the two 2-litre units of 148 and 177bhp – the latter seeing particularly strong test-drive demand.

The 1.6-litre 114bhp diesel will account for the remainder of sales until more engines arrive in the Spring, notably the 1-litre highly frugal three-cylinder unit that’s claimed a hat trick of engine-of-the-year titles. There will also be a third 2-litre diesel of 207bhp with a six-speed powershift transmission, and an all-wheel-drive Mondeo – the first time such a transmission has been fitted since the model’s earliest days, when it proved highly popular.

On the launch event The Car Expert drove Mondeo’ powered by the 148bhp diesel and the hybrid, both in Titanium trim. The petrol-electric drivetrain is of course highly frugal and tax friendly, but it’s not as refined as the diesel which is just eight grams of CO2 worse off in the emissions stakes – two tax bands maybe, but a more satisfying car to drive particularly with its six-speed manual gearbox. While its bigger sister is attracting all the attention, the lower-power 2-litre diesel has the grunt to move this not exactly small car along rapidly enough for most drivers.

Ford says that one of the major advantages in the delayed launch of the Mondeo was the opportunity to tune it completely to the less than perfect road conditions of Europe and particularly the UK, and it shows.

This car combines its traditional MacPherson strut front suspension with a new rear-end setup dubbed integral ink, and it’s very impressive. Ride quality is sublime whether on rutted B roads or high-speed motorways, but push on through corners and the chassis is well up to the task, helped greatly by the electric power steering and the adaptive dampers.

Ford’s other major card with the new Mondeo is the availability of a suite of new tech, notably the Sync 2 infotainment system, active park assist, adaptive LED headlamps, pre-collision warning systems that can detect pedestrians in the road – the list goes on.

For this writer, however, the most impressive of all the new tech was something deceptively simple, inflatable rear seatbelts. Effectively they are airbags for rear-seat passengers, giving them the level of protection those up front already enjoy should a collision happen. They are on the options list, but at a mere £175, and of course will include residual values if specified – something that seems a no-brainer…

Overall the new Ford Mondeo is a solid and impressive answer to the increased threat from recent rivals. This writer believes, having tested both cars close together, that the Ford doesn’t quite come up to the standard’s of VW’s Passat, but then again it’s significantly cheaper, prices starting from £20,795. The launch of the luxury version, the Vignale, later in 2015 may really give the VW a run for its money, but in the meantime the host of buyers who choose the Mondeo as their car are unlikely to be disappointed, even if most of them are spending their employer’s money…

Ford Mondeo – key specifications

Model tested: 2.0-litre
On Sale: Jan 2015
Range price: £20,795-£26,995
Insurance group: 17E-29E
Engines: Petrol 1.5, 2.0. Diesel 1.6, 2.0 (2). Hybrid 2.0
Power (bhp): 157, 236. 114, 148/177. 184
Torque (lb/ft): 177, 251. 199, 258/295. 128
0-62mph (sec): 9.2, 7.9. 12.1, 9.4/8.3. 9.2
Top speed (mph): 138, 149. 119, 134/140. 116.
Fuel economy (combined, mpg): 48.7, 38.7. 78.5, 68.9/64.2. 67.3.
CO2 emissions (g/km): 134, 169. 94, 107/115. 99.
Key rivals: Vauxhall Insignia, VW Passat, Peugeot 508
Test Date: January 2015
* Range price covers 4-dr, 5-dr, estate. All performance figures refer to 5-dr with manual gearbox where available, best combined mpg, lowest CO2

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Andrew Charman
Andrew Charman
Andrew is a road test editor for The Car Expert. He is a member of the Guild of Motoring Writers, and has been testing and writing about new cars for more than 20 years. Today he is well known to senior personnel at the major car manufacturers and attends many new model launches each year.