Built for comfort
European Mondeo aims at Mazda6 and Camry plus big-six buyers
NOW that the Falcon has dropped off shopping lists, the weight of expectation on the mid-sized Mondeo increases.
Australians ignored the firstgeneration car launched here in 1995, sticking with the big Aussie six.
Subsequent Mondeos failed to find many buyers, despite the promise of spirited handling and practicality.
The latest Mondeo has arrived fresh from Europe with smart styling and plenty of gear, intent on soaking up some of the Falcon buyers as well as snatching customers from Mazda6 and Toyota Camry.
The Mondeo makes its presence felt thanks to a muscular design. It can be confused with the Falcon from a distance, thanks to the Ford family headlights and “hungry fish” grille.
Ironically, the bonnet has a bigger bulge than the XR8 Falcon.
The styling on the inside is focused on modern elegance. Ford has taken away many buttons, hiding functions in menus on the centre touchscreen or instrument cluster display.
This makes for a less cluttered interior. The dashboard is dominated by the eight-inch touchscreen and the audio panel below, while the speedo and tacho are digital readouts, which look pretty cool.
It has comfortable seats with good quality leather trim and a heater for front and rear alike — which is quite rare — and rear passengers also get air vents.
The hatch gives excellent access to the cargo area. The boot is not overly deep but it is long (capacity is a decent 557L with five seats in place and a whopping 1356L with the second row folded).
Satnav is standard on the Mondeo range, as are the touchscreen, front and rear sensors and reversing camera (but Ambiente models built before June miss this feature).
The Titanium and Trend get auto braking at low speeds, collision avoidance with pedestrian detection and lane departure warning. Blind spot monitoring and parking assistance are standard on the Titanium, which gets a power tailgate activated via the key fob and closed with a button on the tailgate.
Steering is very light, making city parking easy, but the Titanium suspension (in the standard setting) is ordinary at lower speeds.
ON THE ROAD
The Mondeo used to be a bit of fun when it was a sporty handler but this one is more of a pie floater. Its rear suspension architecture is entirely new but it is tuned to enable excessive movement — there is too much vertical travel and the body sways from side to side over some bumps.
Switching to the Sport suspension setting (in a hard to find menu) helps rein it in — but then it is too firm and all the bumps are passed on to the cabin.
The steering has a nonlinear response, especially just off centre. It doesn’t feel quite right and gives little confidence. This is a surprise from Ford, which normally makes cars that head the class when it comes to fun.
Ford Australia should push for a chassis and steering tune that better suit this market.
The 2.0-litre turbo four — shared with the Falcon — is a ripper. With 177kW/345Nm in the Titanium (a lesser version has 149kW), it clearly outpunches the Mazda6 and Toyota Camry.
It is also a smooth-revving job yet there’s a hint of rortiness — but it doesn’t get too raucous. The six-speed torque converter automatic works well and gear changes are barely noticeable, a sign of a slick drivetrain.
Fuel consumption is nothing to write home about, at 8.5L/100km, which is not all that far off a Falcon. A leaner diesel Mondeo is an option. The Camry Hybrid is the best choice in the class for fuel misers.
Stylish and practical with all the gear at a good price, pity the steering and suspension are not quite right.