When the first generation Mondeo came out it caused a stir in the family car world. It drove brilliantly, was reasonably priced, eminently practical and had an understated anonymity. Now on the fourth iteration, the marque takes aim squarely at the Mazda 6 and Volkswagen Passat.
Ford is aiming to deliver more of what buyers like – the space, the driving experience and the value for money while improving other areas such as fuel efficiency, refinement and the infotainment system. As before hatchback and estate bodystyles will be available along with a four-door saloon for the hybrid.
The third-generation car split opinion regarding its looks – some felt it looked okay while others felt it looked bulbous and fussy. The new model features Ford’s new trapezoidal ‘no-it’s-not-an-Aston-Martin‘ grille, a swoopy coupe-like roofline, sculpted bodywork to convey ‘visual lightness’ and new slim angry-looking headlights.
Inside, the car has a wrap-around cabin designed to make the driver feel like the centre of attention and combined digital and analogue gauges make it feel more modern. Ford is keen to promote its use of soft-touch plastics and flock lining in storage areas to demonstrate how much more sophisticated the new car is.
Finally, thinner front seats support the driver and front passenger while also allowing the rear passengers more legroom. A heated steering wheel, powered boot lid and electrically adjustable steering column with memory function all help increase the technology count on the new Mondeo.
The Mondeo always had a reputation for excellent handling so the new car has a lot to live up to. A newly designed rear-suspension system manages to be both more comfortable and deliver greater grip and stability. This alteration also reduces noise in the rear by three decibels which, combined with thicker rear glass, makes for a refined drive.
Noise reduction has been an important part of the new Mondeo’s design brief. The chassis now has fewer holes in it compared to the previous model, the rear has more sound deadening under the body and the wing mirrors and A-pillars have been aerodynamically optimised to reduce wind noise.
A variety of systems come with the new Mondeo to improve road-holding and refinement. The estate gets self-levelling rear suspension as an option – useful if you’re often carrying heavy, uneven loads. Torque vectoring and systems that compensate for the drift and bumps you encounter on the motorway ensure you stay pointing the right way.
The biggest news on the engine front is the addition of a hybrid Mondeo. This version uses a 2.0-litre Atkinson-cycle engine, like the Toyota Prius, combined with a 1.4kWh lithium-ion battery to deliver supermini running costs in a family saloon. Ford is expecting the 190hp hybrid to return 67.3mpg at the pumps while emitting 99g/km of CO2.
Beyond the hybrid, Ford has fitted the usual range of petrol and diesel engines with the latter expected to be the biggest seller. Ford’s multi-award-winning 1.0-litre three-cylinder EcoBoost turbo petrol with 123hp kicks-off the petrol range and promises to return 55.4mpg. Ford’s all-new 1.5-litre turbo petrol still delivers 158hp while emitting 11 per cent less CO2 than the 1.6 it replaces and returning 48.7mpg.
The 2.0-litre turbo petrol borrowed from the Focus ST returns with a choice of 197 or 237hp outputs. The latter is only available with a six-speed automatic gearbox and will eventually be offered with four-wheel drive.
Diesels consist of a 113hp 1.6-litre which, with sub-100g/km CO2 emissions, is exempt from road tax in both estate and hatchback bodystyles. The 2.0-litre returns with 148 or 177hp and, for the fourth-generation, will eventually be offered with twin-turbos to deliver 207hp and a shed-load of torque for those with a penchant for power.
There’s been a huge amount of technology added to the new Mondeo to variously improve safety for occupants and for those around the car. A camera mounted to the windscreen scans for pedestrians – comparing them to a database of ‘pedestrian shapes’ to save confusing itself – and warns the driver and, if they ignore it, will brake the car for them.
This system joins lane keeping assistance and adaptive cruise control with active braking – which can apply up to 100 per cent of the braking force to mitigate or avoid a collision. Active park assist not only parks the car in parallel spaces but can also bay park the car – unlike some other systems it can autonomously exit the space in addition to entering it.
In addition to all the systems keeping the car pointing in the right direction, the car features, as a world-first, airbags within the rear seatbelts. In an accident, these expand like regular airbags to cover five-times more of the body than regular seatbelts – massively reducing the potential for internal injuries.
The attractive, thin headlights are newly designed full-LED units which are said to offer a closer light to daylight than normal headlights – reducing eye strain. A system also adjusts the angle and intensity of the light to best match the ambient conditions.
Ford’s latest Sync 2 infotainment system is fitted – the previous system was frequently criticised by experts for its confusing and dated layout so the new one needs to be a big improvement. The new system comes with an eight-inch touch-screen that features voice command – finding local restaurants when the driver says “I’m hungry”, for example.
MyKey technology borrowed from the Fiesta makes it to the Mondeo. This allows users to programme their own parameters into a key to limit aspects of the car for when young or less-experienced drivers are using it. The volume of the stereo, maximum speed, incoming phone calls and the driver assistance can all be locked to prevent misuse of the car.
Nothing mundane about the Mondeo
The Mondeo and Mondeo Estate are now available to order with prices starting at £20,795. Before committing to the Mondeo, however, take a look at its main rivals – the Mazda 6, Volkswagen Passat and Vauxhall Insignia.