ALL THAT IS DE­CENT

The Mon­deo packs the old Ford fam­ily virtues

Mercury (Hobart) - - MOTORING - IAIN CURRY

The Ford Fal­con’s longevity meant gen­er­a­tions of Aus­tralians were brought up with gi­ant Blue Oval sedans and wag­ons serv­ing as fam­ily char­i­ots. Since the Fal­con was pen­sioned off, the Euro­pean-built Mon­deo lift­back sedans and wag­ons have been Ford’s largest pas­sen­ger cars. If you want big­ger, an SUV or dual cab ute are your only op­tions.

The un­der­rated Mon­deo can’t match the Fal­con’s pas­sion­ate fol­low­ing. Sales were never huge and Aus­tralia’s medium car seg­ment has plum­meted with the rise of the SUVs.

A used Mon­deo is a lot of car for your money. It hasn’t held value par­tic­u­larly well and is a less ob­vi­ous choice than the ubiq­ui­tous Toy­ota Camry. It’s less bor­ing, too, but not by much. Even so, this is a de­cent fam­ily car: roomy front and rear, com­fort­able, safe and well equipped. Look re­ally hard at the front end and there are hints of Jaguar and As­ton Martin.

On its re­lease in May 2015, the Mon­deo was hyped for being tech­nol­ogy and safety rich rather than a re­ward­ing driver’s car. En­gines were 2.0-litre turbo fours — 149kW and 177kW with petrol power or 132kW diesel — cou­pled to dual-clutch au­to­matic trans­mis­sions.

The Mon­deo was fit­ted with “wet clutch” gear­boxes, as op­posed to the prob­lem­atic “dry clutch” ex­am­ples that caused havoc (and landed a big fine for Ford Aus­tralia) in the Fo­cus, Fi­esta and EcoS­port mod­els.

Of this gen­er­a­tion Mon­deo, the 2015 cars and most 2016 ex­am­ples (and any with more than 100,000km) will be out of Ford’s three­year war­ranty. Re­li­a­bil­ity ap­pears gen­er­ally good, with few re­ports of ma­jor fail­ings and not many qual­ity con­trol is­sues.

In the clas­si­fieds, ca­pa­cious wag­ons are more pop­u­lar than the “lift­back” sedans. The lat­ter’s hatch­back-style boot is quite prac­ti­cal, pro­vid­ing 458L of boot space ver­sus the wagon’s 488L up to the par­cel shelf. Load both to the roof and the wagon has a 150L ad­van­tage.

Un­like old Fal­con wag­ons, you won’t fit a dou­ble mat­tress in the back, but with seats down the Mon­deo wagon gives a use­ful 1585L. Diesel wag­ons score 1600kg tow­ing ca­pac­ity and the others 1200kg.

Am­bi­ente, Trend and Ti­ta­nium sedans had the choice of petrol or diesel en­gines and the Trend and Ti­ta­nium wag­ons were diesel only. The Am­bi­ente got the lesser petrol en­gine, still a de­cent job, and you don’t feel too robbed of per­for­mance against the 177kW tune.

Base spec­i­fi­ca­tion in­cluded al­loy wheels, front and rear park­ing sen­sors, LED rear lights, dual-zone cli­mate con­trol, cruise con­trol, pad­dle-shifters, in­fo­tain­ment with eight-inch screen, Bluetooth, voice con­trol and sat nav.

Safety spec was im­pres­sive, with nine airbags (in­clud­ing those at­tached to the rear seat belts). Ford’s MyKey al­lowed the owner to limit top speed and au­dio vol­ume, and re­quire seat belts to be fas­tened.

The Am­bi­ente’s lack of rear cam­era or au­ton­o­mous emer­gency brak­ing let it down. Trend had these, while Ti­ta­nium added blind spot as­sist, park as­sist, lane keep aid and as­sist, and lane de­par­ture warn­ing. The Trend got key­less en­try and start, adap­tive cruise con­trol, power and heated par­tial leather seats, and auto head­lights and wipers.

Go­ing full luxe, the Ti­ta­nium added 18-inch al­loys, sporty side skirts, power tail­gate (wagon only), adap­tive sus­pen­sion, LED head­lamps that turn corners, panoramic roof, leather sports seats, heated rear seats and am­bi­ent light­ing.

Look for late 2016 Mon­deos with in­fo­tain­ment in­clud­ing smart­phone mirroring. From April 2017 each grade’s al­loy wheels gained an inch in size.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Mon­deo own­ers were prob­a­bly not cool kids at school but chances are they were smart and or­gan­ised. Hunt down an ex­am­ple cher­ished from new by one owner who stuck rigidly to the ser­vice sched­ule.

Ford dealer ser­vices aren’t cheap ev­ery 15,000km or an­nu­ally, diesels es­pe­cially. Petrol ex­am­ples will be at least $380 a visit, with 60,000km and 120,000km ser­vices at $765. Any petrols com­ing up to 150k will need new belts, cost­ing $1105.

High mileage used diesels look good value but are out of war­ranty be­yond 100,000km and are costly to main­tain. The 60,000km diesel ser­vice is $1045.

You’ll find cab­ins roomy and, in all but the Am­bi­ente, seat­ing is quite lux­u­ri­ous. Some of the cabin plas­tics and switches feel low rent and some com­plain they’ve not weath­ered well. Lis­ten for rat­tles and squeaks and look for early wear on the steer­ing wheel, seats and plas­tics.

Wag­ons have self-lev­el­ling rear sus­pen­sion, and with the Ti­ta­nium grades’ elec­tron­i­cally con­trolled dampers, own­ers have said these are ex­pen­sive fixes. Check for any oil leak­ing from shock ab­sorbers, and nasty knocks, rat­tles or thumps when go­ing over road bumps.

Take your time check­ing all elec­tronic bits, and en­sure the dash warn­ing lights switch off.

Re­ported prob­lems aren’t wide­spread but there are grum­bles about the touch­screen, Bluetooth, air­con, smart key, smart tail­gate, sat­nav and elec­tric hand­brake, and fixes can be ex­pen­sive.

The Mon­deo was caught up in the Takata airbag scan­dal, so en­sure any built be­fore March 21, 2017 have had the re­quired fix. Early Ti­ta­ni­ums were re­called in Oc­to­ber 2016 mod­ify the adap­tive LED head­lamp soft­ware.

IAIN SAYS ★★★ 1/2

There are high-mileage cheap­ies out there but they’ll be out of war­ranty, prob­a­bly ex-fleet or ex-rental. Ser­vices for diesels get in­creas­ingly ex­pen­sive. Mon­deos are im­pres­sively roomy but the wagon’s the proper prac­ti­cal choice, es­pe­cially with a fru­gal diesel en­gine. Find a Trend or Ti­ta­nium for bet­ter looks, kit and safety, ideally less than three years old and un­der 100,000km.

OWN­ERS SAY

KEITH ROBEY: I’m on my sev­enth Mon­deo af­ter sev­eral Fal­cons. The Trend turbo petrol re­mains the sweet spot pick, though the Ti­ta­nium diesel has all the Mercedes good­ies at a Ford price. I could live with­out the panoramic non-open­ing glass roof. The in­fu­ri­at­ing fea­ture is the pad­dle-shifters being at­tached to the steer­ing wheel rather than being in a fixed po­si­tion on the steer­ing col­umn. The unique airbags on the rear seat belts rarely get credit. Top marks for good per­for­mance with use­ful econ­omy, great space and com­fort plus a huge flat floor boot, even in the hatch­back. A fine but grossly un­der­rated car.

GE­OFF LEWIS: I have had no prob­lems with my Mon­deo, owned from new. It per­forms well and is eco­nom­i­cal to drive. I have it ser­viced reg­u­larly at the deal­er­ship and have changed only the bat­tery and tyres. The air­con is on all the time and, whether hot or cold out­side, it is com­fort­able. The op­tions are of a very good stan­dard and the extra-large boot is a bonus. The build qual­ity is far bet­ter than my pre­vi­ous cars.

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