The new Ford Mondeo looks better equipped than ever

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Ford’s Mondeo is a big car and a big name in the motoring world but how do the latest models stack up? Steve Walker takes a look.

The Mondeo is regularly held up as the epitome of the unremarkable family car. It’s the transport of choice for ‘Mondeoman’, the hypothetical Mr Average that the Labour Party famously targeted in the 1997 general election. But while it’s gently derided in some quarters, the Mondeo is strongly appreciated in others. Large, comfortable but also keen-handling, the latest model’s talents have gained it major critical acclaim. Today’s facelifted version looks even better equipped to convince the doubters.

Ford couldn’t afford to get the Mondeo wrong and went for both quality and quantity in an approach that has reaped big rewards. Loved by press and large sections of the public, only a slightly staid image is likely to deter buyers. Give the big Ford a chance though, and you’re sure to come away impressed by its talents.

Background Times aren’t particularly good for the Mondeo and other D-segment family cars. Small 4x4s and compact MPVs, as well as premium small cars and compact executive models, have all tempted drivers out of traditional middleweights like the Mondeo and Ford had to think long and hard about how to woo them back. This Mondeo, launched in 2007, was an impressive response and although it’s unlikely to return the sales levels a Ford family car could have generated in the good old days, incremental improvements have kept it intensely relevant.

The current Mondeo engine range looks stronger than ever. The highlights on the petrol side are the 2.0-litre EcoBoost units with their lightweight aluminium construction, direct fuel injection, variable cam timing and a turbocharger. There are 200bhp and 237bhp versions of this engine and both are combined with Ford’s PowerShift automatic gearbox, an advanced dual clutch transmission with six-speeds.

The diesel engine range will continue to generate most of the Mondeo’s sales with the 2.0-litre TDCi unit proving particularly popular. Buyers get 113bhp, 138bhp and 161bhp versions of the engine to choose from and all are compliant with the latest emissions regulations. Ford is also offering a 2.2-litre TDCi diesel with 200bhp that achieves very strong performance.

The Mondeo always feels a quality product. The slick steering, the weighting of the pedals and gearchange and the excellent damping are reminiscent of Lexus rather than Ford. Minus points would include rather poor visibility due to the chunky pillars and the sheer bulk of the car when parking. Once you learn to trust the front end, handling is excellent with a very clever ESP stability control system. Given the car’s roadholding levels, the wide front seats lack a little in terms of lateral support but they’re great for sitting out long journeys.

‘Safe’

The looks of the Mondeo are safe rather than groundbreaking but it’s an attractive car that disguises its prodigious size effectively with some well-judged detailing. Ford has upped the technology count on the car in recent times and some high-tech features are now available. There’s a Lane Departure Warning system, a Blind Spot Information System, a rear-view camera to help when parking and a speed limiter. Music fans will be attracted by Ford’s Premium Sound System with a 265-watt, eight-channel amplifier and a 17-litre subwoofer.

Today’s Mondeo might be large but it treads quite lightly from an environmental and cost point of view thanks to come clever fuel saving technologies. Ford’s regenerative braking system is fitted. Dubbed ‘Smart Regenerative Charging’, it uses kinetic energy recovered when the car is coasting or braking to charge the battery. There’s also an Eco mode and an Active Grille Shutter which closes off the air-flow through the radiator grille when possible to improve aerodynamics.

The Mondeo is not perfect but it’s closer to perfect than all its key rivals and that’s as much as anyone can ask.