New world or­der

The Fal­con is dead. Ford’s Mon­deo mid-sizer takes up the fight

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page - JOSHUA DOWL­ING NA­TIONAL MO­TOR­ING EDI­TOR joshua.dowl­ing@news.com.au

WHEN the last Fal­con rolls off the pro­duc­tion line in Oc­to­ber next year, this is the car that will fill the void.

The pre­vi­ous Mon­deo wagon had al­ready as­sumed the role left va­cant by the Fal­con wagon af­ter it was dropped in 2010 — soon, the Mon­deo sedan will do the same

The key to the chang­ing of the guard can be found in the fine print in the brochures for both cars.

The new Mon­deo, launched this week, is just 7cm shorter and 1.6cm nar­rower than the Fal­con and yet its boot ca­pac­ity is greater.

It is loaded with more tech­nol­ogy be­cause it was built with Ford’s global ve­hi­cle devel­op­ment bud­get.

As if that’s not enough, start­ing from $32,790 plus on- road costs, the new Euro­pean­built Mon­deo costs al­most $2500 less than the cheap­est lo­cally made Fal­con.

The Fal­con, unique to Australia since 1960, never stood a chance in the new lean au­to­mo­tive world that has all but elim­i­nated du­pli­ca­tion of sim­i­larly sized cars.

With the new Mon­deo, Ford has in its sights the Toy­ota Camry, the world’s big­gest sell­ing fam­ily and fleet sedan, and Australia’s top-sell­ing car in its class for 21 years.

Ford has some catch­ing up to do: it has sold fewer than 50,000 Mon­deos in Australia ver­sus Toy­ota’s tally of more than 850,000 Cam­rys.

That’s why Ford has thrown ev­ery­thing at the new model. It is, for ex­am­ple, Australia’s first car with rear seat belt airbags as stan­dard across the range (bring­ing the airbag count to nine). Touch­screen nav­i­ga­tion and dig­i­tal ra­dio are in­cluded on ev­ery model. Top-end ver­sions have radar cruise con­trol, lane-keep­ing as­sis­tance and au­to­matic emer­gency brak­ing (now with pedes­trian de­tec­tion) at speeds up to 40km/h.

The Mon­deo also has a smart key that lim­its the top speed of the car and the vol­ume of the ra­dio, de­signed to give peace of mind to par­ents of novice driv­ers. As with many new Fords, if a mo­bile phone is paired, the Mon­deo will au­to­mat­i­cally dial 000 if the airbags are de­ployed in a crash and send the lo­ca­tion to emer­gency ser­vices, re­duc­ing re­sponse times.

Con­spic­u­ously ab­sent among all this safety tech, how­ever, is one of the ba­sics: there is no rear-view cam­era on the most af­ford­able model.

Ford says it will add a rear cam­era from June pro­duc­tion, with cars ar­riv­ing in lo­cal show­rooms in Au­gust.

An­other cu­ri­ous anom­aly: he Mon­deo shares its four­cylin­der en­gine with a Fal­con yet is thirstier (8.2L or 8.5L/ 100km ver­sus 8.0L) de­spite be­ing about 100kg lighter.

Per­haps that’s why Ford has tried to di­rect at­ten­tion on fuel econ­omy com­par­isons to the diesel Mon­deo and the Camry Hy­brid, where the Ford has an edge of 5.1L ver­sus 5.2L for the Toy­ota. But Ford ought to be care­ful when throw­ing rocks at ri­vals, as the petrol-pow­ered Mon­deo uses more fuel than the regular Toy­ota Camry.

BE­HIND THE WHEEL

Fal­con fans may lament the pass­ing of gutsy rear-wheel drive per­for­mance but the new Mon­deo is no slouch.

Its tur­bocharged four­cylin­der petrol en­gine — also used in the Fal­con Eco­boost, the Kuga SUV the Fo­cus ST hot hatch — works smoothly with the six-speed auto, en­dow­ing the Mon­deo with more oomph than a Camry, Mazda6 or Subaru Lib­erty.

The Mon­deo feels sure­footed in cor­ners and sup­ple over most bumps, although not best in class based on our pre­view drive.

The steer­ing can feel too di­rect at times and the front end thumps more than usual over pot­holes.

There is only a space-saver in the boot, rather than a full­size spare.

In the cabin, the Mon­deo has am­ple space. Its front-drive lay­out gives plenty of leg and head­room — more than the Fal­con although not as much as a Camry.

There’s good odd­ment stor­age in the doors, cen­tre con­sole and glove­box.

The in­te­rior ma­te­ri­als — and what the car in­dus­try calls “per­ceived qual­ity” — are above av­er­age for this class . There is no doubt the new Mon­deo is a solid ef­fort, with enough tech­nol­ogy on the most ex­pen­sive ver­sions (which top out at more than $50,000 on the road) to chal­lenge the best in the medium-size sedan busi­ness.

The new Mon­deo also sym­bol­ises the mas­sive im­prove­ment in Ford ve­hi­cles glob­ally.

Cashed-up Ford didn’t skip a beat in the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis, while its peers were be­ing bailed out, or hit the brakes on re­search and devel­op­ment, or both.

The Mon­deo shows just how much of a head start Ford has on its main ri­vals. Holden Malibu any­one?

How­ever, for all its mer­its, the Mon­deo faces some sig­nif­i­cant hur­dles.

Will buy­ers at the bot­tom end of the mid-size sedan mar­ket pay a $10,000 pre­mium for a Mon­deo?

That’s the price gap to the top-sell­ing Camry’s cur­rent $26,490 drive-away deal.

Will the well-heeled fork out $50,000 for a Ford Mon­deo when a BMW or MercedesBenz badge is $10,000 away?

On top of all that, the Mon­deo is driv­ing into a head­wind.

Sales of medium-sized sedans priced be­low $60,000 were down by 15 per cent last year.

But de­mand for mid-size luxury cars out­paced the mar­ket, up by 9 per cent, as Aus­tralians spoilt by record low in­ter­est rates treated them­selves to the good life and a pres­tige badge.

VER­DICT

The right car at the wrong time.

Medium cal­i­bre: In sedan or wagon guise, the Mon­deo

has am­ple space. Pric­ing puts it at a pre­mium over regular

mid-siz­ers and not much short of pres­tige

mod­els. Techno firsts in­clude a rear seat belt

airbag, left

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.