The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday
A FORD ABLE TO TAKE ON AUDI
Chris Knapman on Mondeo Man’s return to the top
As famous as the Mini, the Ford Mondeo needs no introduction, but as we’re all here let’s give it one anyway. Launched in 1993, it replaced the humdrum Sierra with something altogether more aspirational. Mondeo Man, as Tony Blair coined him in a 1996 campaign speech, was a somebody – in fact, he was almost everybody, with Ford shifting more than 120,000 Mondeos in the first full year of production alone. Over the following two decades new Mondeos have come and gone, and total sales have reached 4.5million. However, the car market today is very different from how it was 20 years ago. There are crossovers and SUVs, downsizing is on the up, and under a Conservative government, Mondeo Man acquired a taste for BMWs and Audis. As a result, Ford will be delighted if it can sell just 20,000 of these new Mondeos next year. With creases as sharp as a Sabatier and a front end that could have come straight from an Aston Martin, Ford’s latest at least has looks on its side. This is a car you could feel proud to park on your driveway, assuming it would fit (it really is vast). On the inside it’s not quite as convincing, Ford appearing to have spent on the entire interior what Audi does on its indicator stalks. It is roomy, though, with five adults and all their worldly possessions able to fit with space to spare. And if that’s still not enough you can opt for the where-on-earth-amI-going-to-park-somethingthis-big Estate version. Clever technology includes a system that detects pedestrians and can bring the car to a stop if it thinks you’re about to run one of them over, plus rear seat belts that inflate in the event of a crash. “Safe”, as the kids would say. While petrol engines are included in the range (we tried a pleasant 1.5-litre EcoBoost), 90 per cent of people will buy a diesel, so the bulk of our time was spent in the 2.0-litre TDCi. Brisk rather than fast, it was also quiet on the motorway and returned 60mpg. It would be nice if it had a bit more in the way of mid-range pull, though. By far and away the standout feature of the new Mondeo, however, is the balance it strikes between ride and handling. This is a car with a rare sense of composure in the corners and poise over the bumps. Its steering isn’t the quickest, but like the gearshift (and the brakes, and the throttle for that matter), it’s consistent Price as tested: £24,165 Power/torque: 180bhp/295lb ft Acceleration: 0-62mph in 8.3sec Top speed: 140mph Fuel economy: 64.2mpg (EU Combined) CO2 emissions: 115g/km Telegraph rating: in its response, silky smooth and beautifully weighted; a combination that makes the Mondeo a pleasure to drive. Truth be told, the Mondeo has always been very good at all this dynamic stuff, so this latest version is really just picking up where the others left off. It’s big, smooth, safe and handles with more verve than anything else in the class. But, let me guess, you’d still rather have an Audi, right?