FORD STAMPS ITS AUTHORITY
MONDEO A CLASS ABOVE ITS RIVALS
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 new Mondeo 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.
Starting from $32,790 plus onroad costs, the new Europeanbuilt Mondeo costs almost $2500 less than the cheapest locally made Falcon. With the new Mondeo, Ford has in its sights the Toyota Camry.
Ford has thrown everything at the new model.
It is, for example, Australia's first car with rear seatbelt 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.
There is no rearview camera on the most affordable model.
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.
The Mondeo shares its fourcylinder engine with a Falcon yet is thirstier, despite being about 100kg lighter.
Falcon fans may lament the passing of gutsy rear-wheel drive performance, but the new Mondeo is no slouch.
Its turbo-charged four-cylinder 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 sure-footed in corners and supple over most bumps.
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 full-size 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.
The new Mondeo also symbolises the massive improvement in Ford vehicles globally.
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.
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?