Ford Mondeo review - More than a feeling



Updated: September 21, 2015

I must admit I have never considered Ford Mondeo as something I'd want to own, but the same way you don't say no to free food and goats, you don't turn away a free review, even if it's not your typical demographic. After all, I managed just fine with family transporters and their associated vomit before, so why not a mid-range executive vehicle?

The car at my disposal was an outgoing third-generation five-door hatchback version, powered by a 2.0-liter 203HP TNBA EcoBoost engine, mated to a six-speed semi-automatic dual-clutch PowerShift gearbox, plus a basic but adequate Style level of equipment. Sounds reasonably interesting, especially if we consider a rival like Skoda Superb, which has featured quite favorably on Dedoimedo. Anyhow, let us commence please.

Teaser

Clean lines, promises good fun, but can it deliver?

More about the car

Ford Mondeo is a car with a very tricky mission. It has to fight its usual opponents, but then it also has to go head to head with the more luxurious Audi, Mercedes and BMW models. Which is why Style isn't such a good choice after all, offering only a modest set of all-electric windows, cruise control, dual-zone climate control, and an okay DVD media unit, with steering wheel controls, that displays a bunch of information on the dashboard computer screen. But that's hardly exciting, and the new fourth-generation model does a much better job of being both presentable and gadgety.

Front

Handsome, but the new model is handsomer!

Perhaps of more interest is the engine, which delivers a very decent figure, with PowerShift transmission designed to go head to head with the DSG technology available across the VW Group range. We have seen the DSG unit in action several times already, including both Skoda Superb as well as Skoda Octavia vRS, so it will be quite intriguing to check if Ford's system can deliver similar - or better results.

The engine is a more economic alternative to the older atmospheric 2.2-liter and 2.5-liter units, and it produces a handsome if not amazing 300 Nm of torque, available from 1,750 rpm up to 4,000 rpm. Compare this to 355 Nm for Skoda Octavia. There is a more powerful unit, with 243 HP and 366 Nm, but it wasn't available in my test car.

Age before beauty

Mondeo is a handsome car. Always has been. It's prettier than Focus, and it looks posh. You have a feeling it's not really a hatchback, and you expect it to have just four doors. Again, Skoda Superb pulls the same trick. It looks sharp, and you have a feeling it's been designed for driving. Now that may sound like a silly statement, because all cars are designed to exercise various bits and pieces of physics, tarmac grip and air friction, but Mondeo seems poised to achieving this with elegance and thrill. Whether this is true, we shall yet have to see.

Front side view, low

So I've done the most heinous of crimes. I took some pictures just before sunset. Ahem.

Side view

I'm sorry, I could not resist. But 'tis a pretty car.

Side back view, low

Chubby, but sporty kind of.

The silver-gray color isn't the most exciting, and a metallic blue or green would work better. The standard wheels are too small, and you'd want more inches across the diameter. However, you do get twin tailpipes, on the outer ends of the rear bumper, which adds more character and still more promise of a sensational ride.

Tail, exhausts

Recognizable brand lines all over the place.

Interior

Ford Mondeo has a spacious, comfy interior. It suffers from the typical Fordy overcrowdedness in the front, which also affects Opel and a few other models. In other words, minimalism is not strong in this one. The seats are comfy and supportive enough through corners, with a solid, firm but refined suspension to help you over potholes and bumps, and there's a lot of space in the back. However, nothing can defeat Superb, leg wise or boot wise. All that said, Mondeo offers a decent cabin, and it's focused around the driving experience rather than poshness.

Interior

A bit outdated, this 3rd gen, but perfectly functional and usable.

Dashboard

A bunch of fancy stuff displayed on the, eh, display.

Driving around

I have already mentioned this in my Ford C-Max Eurotrip slash review. Fords do have a lovely driving dynamic. The steering wheel is well weighted, precise, and you get a good sense of the road through your fingers, which is always important for a thrilling, engaging experience. Both C-Max and Mondeo use a hybrid electro-hydraulic system, which helps save fuel, but also does not take away from some of analogue spice you expect.

You do know you are driving a big car, especially in town and when parking, and you cannot neglect the bulk of its weight across the middle of it, but the feeling of size vanishes as you speed up or turn into sharp corners, where Mondeo grips like much smaller, lighter cars, even with its basic set of tires and no suspension tweaks. That's quite good. Again, comparing to some of the smaller hatches I've tested before, Mondeo does not lag behind in what it can do.

More specifically, there's this one long, sweeping ramp-up turn leading onto a motorway that I often use as a gold standard to gauge how grippy and precise the cars are. Mondeo can glide through this one at about 105 km/h without any big problems, very similar to Seat Leon and the surprisingly gocartesque Opel Astra. However, the latter has a dead steering feel. Mondeo offers similar dynamics without taking away from your boy racer karma. And it does it while fully composed, without fretting or sweating or yelling.

Driving

Makes up for an aged cabin with excellent driving dynamics.

However, it's not all silk and honey and sugar-free ice cream. There are disappointing bits, and yes you guessed, the transmission. It's very difficult to nail down auto without spoiling the driving fun, and very few companies can do this successfully. This also means sufficient torque so the computer does not go crazy revving up and down, trying to find the best way to cope with what your foot is asking for. Similarly, Ford Mondeo and PowerShift don't offer the same level of engagement and precision like DSG. Not that DSG is perfect, far from it, but there are scenarios when it works well, whereas PowerShift never quite does it. I think Mondeo would be a much better match using diesel + manual. A big diesel, not like what we had with C-Max or in Opel Insignia. Now that was proper family lugger stuff.

Consequently, fuel consumption isn't really good. Nor do you get any good thrill accelerating. All the fine stuff you get while swishbuckling down B roads is nowhere to be found when it comes to pure performance. Sure, this isn't a sports car, but it's too lethargic for its spec, especially when we consider there's a turbo somewhere. The number say 8.2 seconds 0-100 km/h, which is decent, but it feels much slower than Audi A1, which has far fewer horses and a worse official record.

This will make your foot heavy, and that means your fuel bill will go up. In fact, with roughly 50:50 urban- motorway traffic, gentle use of aircon, and speed of about 120-130 km/h where allowed, the economy was much closer to the city figure, on the wrong side of the scale. Ford Mondeo ate about whooping 12.7 liters per 100 km! That's really bad. But say you can shave this down 20% by being gentle and patient. Still way, way too much. And it all comes down to misused power due to some wonky, suboptimal gear changes. Yup. I'm going back to my diesel + manual combo, and it sounds glorious. Because Ford Mondeo drives lovely, it's just that some funky technology won't let it spread its wings like a baby Pegasus and take flight over the rainbow.

Problems

Well, none really, in about a year of hard, rigorous driving and some 47,000 km under the cam belt. At least that's what the owner tells us, without any coercion or application of mild physical violence. Can we trust them? Yes.

Conclusion

Ford Mondeo comes down to three major things. One, it's about handling and precision, and really, you cannot fault the dynamics. Ford nails it well, and in its category, it's probably one of the more road-savvy cars. Two, the automatic transmission just isn't good enough to cope with the engine, and it impedes on the flawless execution of the steering column and the suspension. Three, the interior needs brightening up, which is what the new model does.

If you are looking for a medium-sized family car or an exec transporter, Mondeo seems like a good choice. The 2.0-liter petrol engine is decent, but a diesel version would work better, especially when mated to a manual transmission. Plus let us not forget all that fuel thirst. Golly. Compared to Superb and Insignia, Skoda is more precise and the DSG gearbox is more fun, Insignia is a far more practical, economic choice, and Mondeo is a much better driver's option, if you ignore all the rest. All combined, though, it is not more sensible, but then when it comes to buying, emotions play a big part. I know I've yet to explore the Mondeo family, and there's more to be said about its engine and luxury, but now that the new generation is out, I might soon get my hands on one of the examples. At the time being, worth considering, just avoid PowerShift and up the package list. 7.75/10.

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