Driven: Ford’s forgotten Mondeo mid-sizer
WE don’t hear much about this attractive and practical fivedoor hatchback which also comes as a wagon.
It’s an European alternative for the Falcon which has ended production after buyers rejected big Aussie sixes and migrated to SUVs.
But not everyone wants a SUV and there are Falcon owners wanting to replace the car with something which is not much smaller, more economical and tech-savvy.
Enter the Mondeo, Ford Europe’s biggest passenger car, and available in Australia for some time, but until recently, overshadowed by the Falcon and SUVs.
It’s doing quite well this year with sales of 1145, third in its segment behind Toyota Camry (6274) and the Mazda6 (1190). Its performance is up nearly 15 per cent this year and by almost 50 per cent last month.
The review car was the mid range Mondeo Trend courtesy of a rental car company in New Zealand.
It came to my rescue and was hastily hired at significant cost after flight cancellations.
It cost $488.04 for one-way hire (including insurance) and $73.12 for fuel.
The Trend five-door hatch is available from $ 37,990 petrol automatic on the road.
It includes the more powerful 177kW/345Nm 2.0-litre fourcylinder turbo EcoBoost petrol engine.
There’s pl e n t y o f ge a r including a reversing camera, auto-folding exterior mirrors, keyless entry and start, adaptive cruise, lane- keep assist, auto high beam, heated front seats, as well as a push- button start, auto-dimming rearview mirror, 10- way powered and par tleather front seats, automatic wipers, partial leather seats, auto headlights, idle-stop, cruise control, dual- zone climate control , a le a t h e r wh e e l , Bluetooth audio and phone streaming , SYNC2 vo ic e command, DAB+ digital radio, fo g - l ig ht s , f ront and rear parking sensors, LED tail-lights, follow-me-home lighting and 17-inch alloys.
The Trend only really misses out on the flagship Titanium’s auto tailgate, sunroof, adaptive dampers and 18-inch alloys.
The five-door hatch is large and spacious, although the sloping coupe-like roofline and high windows do reduce side and rear vision.
The dashboard layout and materials are top class with solidity, logic and simplicity. It’s inviting with plenty of showroom pull.
The centre console is dominated by a touchscreenoperated display with standard navigation, entertainment, climate and phone operations.
It is co l o u r co de d an d presented without too much distracting detail, each works well. The Bluetooth phone/ audio stream operates with ease and clarity.
The SYNC2 voice command system can be annoying at times, however, until you learn to speak ‘her’ specific language, anyway.
It’s a shame a digital speedo readout isn’t included with the analog dials.
The driving position is first class with effective ventilation and many storage choices.
Ford seems to have adopted Volvo- style ergonomic seats, mixing firmness and softness with excellent headrests and side-support, for pain-free and relaxing long-distance comfort.
The rear is comfortable too with centralised rear airvents, a reading light, a 12V outlet for charging devices and sufficient storage.
Luggage capacity is vast with 458 litres expanding to 1356L when the rear seats are folded to a flat floor.
The turbo engine is quiet and particularly smooth, quick off the line and accelerates with almost startling eagerness all the way beyond the 6500rpm red-line, aided by a slick-shifting and well-calibrated six-speed torque converter automatic transmission. There are wheelmounted paddle shifters.
It reminds me of a BMW or Benz turbo four.
It has incredible overtaking ability, it pulls forcefully at highway speeds, reflecting this engine’s autobahn breeding. It is relaxed and refined.
The Mondeo’s stability and traction control systems did an exemplary job of channelling the 345Nm of torque through the front wheels.
I hit the road at 10.20am, mindful of speed limits, highway patrols and speed camera units. My flight was leaving at 6.15pm. I wanted to be there by 3.30pm.
Despite logging trucks, caravans, pouring rain and roadworks, I reached Auckland Airport with three hours to spare, without creating any land speed records.
At one stage I was behind a Jaguar XK-R coupe and I could see he had a radar detector fitted. I was hoping to tag along but he was gun-shy.
The Rangiteiki Plains on the ru n in t o L a ke Ta u p o i s tremendous cruising country and there is a temptation to up the ante.
Ho we v e r , th e r e wa s torrential rain, speed was down to 80km/h and it was impossible to pass because of the poor visibility.
It is a sporty drive with good brakes and a comfortable and relaxing ride.
The Mondeo was impressive. Comfortable, quiet (except for road noise over coarse bitumen surfaces), relatively economical (8.2L/100km over 400km) and a pu n c hy 2 . 0 - li t r e pe t rol turbocharged engine, which was superb for overtaking.
The Mondeo Trend EcoBoost is a good combination of dynamic prowes s, ri de suppleness.
It’s the sweet spot in Ford’s range.
Do yourself a favour and get smart and get behind the wheel of a Mondeo before considering anything else first.