Short launches

A trip to the Bay of Plenty and a chance to drive the Mon­deo HEV hybrid has Mark Baker mus­ing on the main­stream­ing of hybrid tech­nol­ogy.

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Ford’s Mon­deo HEV is the lat­est step in the main­stream­ing of the hybrid. We drove it in the sunny Bay of Plenty on a mix of ur­ban and ru­ral roads. Given a sneak air­ing late last year at Fiel­d­ays in Hamil­ton and now avail­able for sale, the Mon­deo’s styling is un­al­tered in this lat­est hybrid ver­sion – a move Toy­ota and oth­ers have al­ready taken, which in­di­cates the wide­spread ac­cep­tance of hybrid driv­e­trains as main­stream and ‘nor­malised’. In a rel­a­tively short time, de­sign teams have be­come con­fi­dent enough to move away from mak­ing hy­brids look like the car from the Jet­sons. The same will no doubt fol­low for EV and PHEV cars – Mit­subishi for one is al­ready head­ing down that route. The Mon­deo’s driv­e­train em­ploys both light elec­tric motor as­sist and petrol power from its 2.0-litre Atkinson en­gine. The ECVT trans­mis­sion has six ‘speeds’ and of­fers crisp shift points, es­pe­cially when used through the ‘pad­dle’ shifters on the steer­ing wheel. The re­sult is smooth, near silent run­ning, low emis­sions and econ­omy fig­ures of 3.9 litres/100 km. In mixed driv­ing in the Bay of Plenty it was rel­a­tively easy to coax the fuel com­puter down to this fig­ure or bet­ter. A sep­a­rate elec­tric motor op­er­ates on de­cel­er­a­tion to pro­vide re­gen­er­a­tive charg­ing. The sus­pen­sion is tuned to deal with the of­ten un­com­pro­mis­ing ride of ‘eco’ tyres, which are de­signed to en­hance range and econ­omy but of­ten do so at the ex­pense of ride qual­ity. De­spite a loaded spec that in­cludes par­tial leather pri­vacy glass, Ap­ple Carplay and An­droid Auto along with Ford’s pro­pri­etary Sync in­fo­tain­ment por­tal tech­nol­ogy, its start­ing show­room price has stayed at the ini­tial in­di­ca­tion of $55,900. The hybrid Mon­deo is avail­able only as a four door sedan, and Ford says its ar­rival is a pointer to full plug-in hybrid and pure elec­tric ver­sions likely in the next year or so.

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