MAKEOVER FOR MON­DEO

Yorkshire Post - Motoring - - FRONT PAGE - Fred­eric Manby

THE Mon­deo is Ford’s largest car in Europe. It is big enough for most of us. In Bri­tain, eight in ev­ery 10 are bought by com­pa­nies and it takes 25 per cent of its mar­ket.

It still makes a good car for the pri­vate buyer – and don’t for­get to bar­gain, be­cause bulk buy­ers do. Just don’t ex­pect a lot off, be­cause Ford is bounc­ing back into profit af­ter strin­gent house­keep­ing.

In Amer­ica, the com­pany has been trans­formed by its CEO, Alan Mu­lally, now a 65-year-old, who joined af­ter 37 years with Boe­ing. Dubbed a non-car guy, he proved that you don’t need to be a car buff to do emer­gency res­cue work.

Where Gen­eral Mo­tors and Chrysler Jeep im­ploded, Ford came through as Mr Mu­lally cut jobs, closed fac­to­ries and sold off the Euro­pean glam­our brands of As­ton Martin, Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo. At home, the Mer­cury badge was ditched, leav­ing Ford and Lin­coln.

In the sec­ond quar­ter this year, Ford had pre-tax op­er­at­ing profit of $2.9bn. The same quar­ter last year showed a $424m loss. Now he is mov­ing things on with the slo­gan One Ford...

It is an­other at­tempt at the global car, so that all mar­kets use es­sen­tially the same de­sign. The new Fo­cus, for ex­am­ple, has 85 per cent com­mon parts in all its mar­kets. Some­thing sim­i­lar will hap­pen to the Mon­deo, be­ing re­launched now in Europe in its mid-life re­vamp.

Mon­deo has been praised for its road man­ners since the first one in 1993, and Bri­tish sales have reached 1.3 mil­lion. The 2007 model sold 120,000, many of them at fleet dis­counts. It is a type of car that has slid out of favour. In 1998, it led its seg­ment. Not any longer. Vaux­hall’s Ger­man-built In­signia has usurped the Bel­gian Mon­deo, as has BMW’s smaller but more pres­ti­gious 3-se­ries.

Ford wants a dif­fer­ent per­cep­tion for Mon­deo, to move it up a notch. In line with Mu­lally’s stric­tures, the saloon ver­sion is dropped in Bri­tain be­cause we didn’t buy many, leav­ing the more prac­ti­cal hatch­back and the load-friendly es­tate. Prices are, mostly, unal­tered (from £17,295).

Head­line news in­cludes a more re­strained face, with a slim­mer top grille and a wider lower in­take which gapes à la mode Peu­geot. These shapes make the Mon­deo front look less like a Ford. I think buy­ers will be at­tracted. There are LED run­ning lamps on the high-grade mod­els and a re­pro­filed bon­net, with sub­tler changes at the back, where the wider LED lamps vis­ually shrink the boot lip.

In­side, the Mon­deo team, led by Sh­effield-born Marin Smith (ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of de­sign at Ford Europe), has given a clearer and less fussy in­stru­men­ta­tion and soft­touch switches. The over­head lights are moved back in the roof, a small move but more log­i­cal, with a bright LED beam. It makes, say, routes eas­ier to see if you still use a map.

There is a new qual­ity in the touch and feel. Ex­am­ple: The clo­sure of the lid on the cen­tral locker uses spring as­sis­tance in its last inch, ob­vi­at­ing the need for a me­chan­i­cal latch.

There are new en­gines with more power and lower emis­sions and bet­ter mileage. These in­clude a 2-litre petrol turbo in 203ps and 240ps “Eco­boost” tune which will be small play­ers be­cause nine out of 10 Mon­deos will have diesel mo­tors. A 160ps 1.6 petrol, of in­ter­est to pri­vate and busi­ness users, with low C02 is on the way.

The para­mount diesel is the new 2.2 litre with 200ps and masses of torque. It is the most beefy diesel to date in a Ford car. Like the pow­er­ful new Eco­boost turbo petrol en­gines, it will be sold only with the higher trim grades, giv­ing Ford a de­cent in­come on rel­a­tively low sales.

This Mon­deo is the first to get the op­tion of ac­tive safety sys­tems, such as “driver alert” which warns you of drowsi­ness by mon­i­tor­ing your pos­ture. Sig­nals in­clude the pic­ture of a steam­ing cup – the same em­blem used by Volvo on its lat­est S60. An­other op­tion warns if you are drift­ing over the white line. You may also spec­ify au­to­matic dip­ping of the head­lamps.

The 203ps, 240ps and 2-litre diesel en­gine in­tro­duce ac­tive air in­takes to the non­premium mar­ket. By mon­i­tor­ing the cool­ing de­mands of the en­gine, this closes as much as 85 per cent of the vanes on the lower grille. There are 15 lev­els of clo­sure, depend­ing on cri­te­ria such as speed, en­gine fluid tem­per­a­tures, de­mands of the cabin air con­di­tion­ing and so on. At full clo­sure, it achieves a six per cent gain in stream­lin­ing, help­ing pace/econ­omy.

The en­gines avail­able for test­ing were the 240ps Eco­boost and the 200ps 2.2 diesel. The Eco­boost has a stan­dard-fit, six-speed Tiptronic au­to­matic twin­clutch gearchange. It cov­ers 0-62mph in 7.5 sec­onds and is rated at 36mpg and 179g/km CO2.

These are con­sid­er­able im­prove­ments on the old 2.3 au­to­matic, and Ford’s plan is they will be good enough to ri­val the at­trac­tion of diesel. It is a cu­ri­ous ra­tio­nale be­cause al­though this petrol mo­tor sounds sweet and smooth and sport­ing, there is the al­lure of the new 2.2 diesel, which with stacks more torque, is a match for the Eco­boost. It has a 0-62 time of 8.1 sec­onds, can reach 143mph, and is rated at 47mpg and 159g/km CO2.

Then there are the 2-litre diesels in 115, 140 and 163ps tune, all rated at less than 140g/km. The 140 and 163ps mo­tors are avail­able with the six-speed au­to­matic gear­box. Some mod­els have re­gen­er­a­tive brake charg­ing, which, like the ac­tive air­in­take sys­tem, will fil­ter down to lesser mod­els and into other large Fords.

Still to make its de­but is stop-start ig­ni­tion. Most ma­jor car mak­ers of­fer it. Ford is ei­ther un­con­vinced or maybe just not ready enough.

The test route was an en­joy­able in­spec­tion of deco­rous Bavar­ian vil­lages, all con­nected by roads smooth enough for a game of bil­liards. They al­lowed the Mon­deo to show its corner­ing poise but gave no hint how it will cope with Bri­tain’s tougher coun­try roads.

First im­pres­sions are that this mid-life Mon­deo looks bet­ter at the front, much the same at the back and sides, is nicer in­side and, when suit­ably dressed with ex­tras, can be safer.

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