ROAD­TEST

The Blue Oval’s big Euro­pean star is a prime fam­ily car

Herald Sun - Motoring - - On the Web - PAUL POT­TINGER paul.pot­tinger@cars­guide.com.au

One of the best cars you’ve hardly heard of is the Eco­boost ver­sion of the Mon­deo. It’s all the fam­ily car you could need

THE cur­rent Fal­con is the last one for sev­eral rea­sons, not the least of which is the in­con­ve­nient truth that sales are low and Dear­born, Michi­gan, couldn’t care less about mak­ing cars in Aus­tralia.

An­other rea­son has been here for some time. It’s just that, even now, peo­ple tend to look at you blankly when you say ‘‘ Mon­deo’’. Oh, it sells all right by medium-car stan­dards, but fewer than it ought. And as if to em­pha­sise the Fal­con’s plight, the ex­cel­lent 2.0-litre turbo four it’s about to re­ceive has been do­ing ster­ling ser­vice in the Mon­deo for most of the past year.

VALUE

With the Fo­cus to be im­ported from Thai­land next year, the Mon­deo and (from March) the Kuga SUV will be the only Europe-made cars in Ford’s lo­cal line-up.

The start­ing price is a stick­ing point. The $37,740 for the mid-spec Zetec lift­back gets you no short­age of proven ri­vals with higher spec, not least the newly leathered-up Mazda6 Tour­ing range.

You’ve got to go 10 bucks shy of $45K for the full-spec Ti­ta­nium. It’s a fine thing, but at this point you’re clos­ing in on Audi A4 ter­ri­tory.

Set­tle for the Zetec Eco­boost. It has enough kit to please and the best driv­e­train in its class.

TECH­NOL­OGY

This 2.0-litre di­rect in­jec­tion turbo petrol four is con­strained to 149kw/300nm— it has greater out­puts in Range Rover’s Evoque and Volvo’s S60 and also will in the Fal­con.

It’s a crisply ef­fi­cient unit with peak torque on tap be­tween 1750 and 4500rpm, driv­ing through a six-speed twin clutch auto so far re­moved in op­er­a­tion from Volk­swa­gen’s in­fu­ri­at­ingly in­con­sis­tent DSG as to be al­most too much like a torque con­verter job­bie.

The Mon­deo diesel has al­ways been wor­thy and now there is a class petrol en­gine, one that ren­ders ob­so­lete the try­hard 2.3 in the en­try cars. Econ­omy and emis­sions— 8.0L/100km and 187g/km CO — are still su­pe­rior to the Mazda6’s but re­lies on 95RON premium juice.

DE­SIGN

So ca­pa­cious and prac­ti­cal is the lift­back that the Mon­deo wagon is bor­der­line re­dun­dant.

Classed as a mid-sizer, it’s longer than the Fal­con and al­most as wide. Any­one ‘‘ down­siz­ing’’ isn’t likely to feel the pinch and the driver will revel in a de­cent seat po­si­tion, as op­posed to the Fal­con’s orange-crate pew.

They won’t care for the dash, though, a con­vo­luted mess, poorer than the Fal­con’s and years be­hind the Fo­cus.

SAFETY

The Mon­deo’s five-star crash rat­ing is but one as­pect that en­dears it to thou­sands of Bri­tish com­pany reps. All the pas­sive and ac­tive mea­sures are in place, the lat­ter en­hanced by an alert and re­spon­sive chas­sis.

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