The Ford Mondeo is classified as a medium-sized car but it is astonishingly roomy. This European Ford is wider than its Falcon sibling and feels half a class larger than some rivals. In hatchback form, the Mondeo offers the best of sedan and wagon worlds, combining rakish good looks with an extremely high level of practicality. But the fact that its sales volumes remain low suggests that Ford Australia is still perceived as the Falcon Car Company.
It may be a sign of great confidence to name a model after the world (‘mondeo’ being French for ‘world’), but this latest Mondeo is a brilliantly designed car of considerable appeal across market segments that offers great value for money.
Ford Mondeo Overview
The Zetec is the second model in the Mondeo range but feels a long way from entry level specification. Standard features include dual-zone climate control, cruise control, front and rear fog lights, premium sound system and 17 X 7.5 alloys. Like all Mondeos it has a raft of safety features including stability control, seven airbags – including driver’s knee bag and full-length side curtain bags.
It is priced at $35,740 with the 2.3-litre four-cylinder petrol engine (as tested) and $38,990 with the 2.0-litre turbodiesel unit, but looks and feels like a significantly dearer machine.
Ford Mondeo Engine
The 2.3-litre four develops a comparatively modest 118 kW of power and 208 Nm of torque. The official fuel economy rating is 9.5 litres per 100 kilometres with carbon emissions of 227 g/km. This engine teams well with a six-speed automatic transmission to make the most of its available power and torque.
Performance is rather better than adequate but buyers accustomed to, say, a Falcon might feel short-changed. Certainly, the response to the throttle does not match the dynamic appearance of the car, especially at higher speeds. On the highway though it very quiet and average economy is about 7.3 litres per 100 kilometres, which is good but not exceptional.
Ford Mondeo Interior
You wouldn’t expect leather trim at this price point in such a substantial car but the cloth used in the Zetec is attractive enough. The overwhelming impressions are of space and bling. In recent years the Ford Motor Company has learnt a lot about making its interiors attractive and tactile.
Chrome interior door handles and steering wheel highlights and four beautifully styled vents (the central ones housed in stylish nacelles which break up the expanse of the fascia) are highlights. All the switches work smoothly and are pleasing to operate – turn the headlights on and the little bird’s eye view of the car in the instrument panel sprouts matching beams. Unlike entry level Falcons of recent memory, there is nothing here to suggest the car has been equipped down to a price.
The interior has more than a suggestion of Audi about it. The seats are comfortable. On the issue of interior width, a tall driver cannot reach across to the passenger’s door without releasing his/her seatbelt. It is difficult to think of any rival which offers so much interior space and, when you think about it, space is luxury. Fold down the rear seatbacks and you have a cavernous luggage compartment.
Ford Mondeo Exterior & Styling
This is surely one of the better looking cars on the market across all price ranges. The 17-inch alloys give the Zetec a dedicatedly sporting look. While there is a family resemblance to the Falcon, especially from the front, the Mondeo looks rather more modern and sporty than the entry level Falcon XT.
It has huge, beautifully designed headlights which combine with the heavily chromed upper and lower grilles and low-set fog lights to give a be-jewelled appearance. Inside and out, the Zetec has the air of a more expensive vehicle. The light grey/green metallic paintwork of the test car (interestingly named ‘Chill’) suits the styling perfectly.
Ford Mondeo On The Road
The Mondeo Zetec is a true driver’s car that cries out for more performance. If it had a V6 engine producing about 150 kW, there would be little reason to choose a Falcon XR6 instead. Few cars have such feel to the steering, the weighting of which is perfect. The Richard Parry-Jones factor is abundantly evident. (Parry-Jones, former Group Vice President – Global Product Development, is an outstanding driver and vehicle analyst who oversaw the driving dynamics of all Ford vehicles from the late 1970s through to 2007 when he retired from the company).
There is little evidence of either torque steer or understeer. Body roll is well contained and the car always feels ‘planted’ and stable. Ride quality is particularly impressive for this class. Noise, vibration and harshness (NVH, the now industry standard term, was coined by Ford of England engineers during the development of the original Cortina in the very early 1960s) levels are formidably low. In short, the Mondeo Zetec drives like a much more expensive vehicle.
Ford Mondeo Challenges
Remarkably, the Mondeo has a similar problem to the Falcon in that the adjustability of the steering wheel gives you the choice between low and too-low. There is an enormous range of (electrically operated) seat height adjustment but those who sit really high will never be in a good relationship with the wheel. It comes with a space-saver spare wheel instead of a full-sized one.
Ford Mondeo Verdict
The Mondeo is at the opposite pole from a Toyota Camry of a decade ago. There is nothing whitegoods about it. Here is a rewarding yet immensely practical car, which reminds us that the hatchback configuration has a lot going for it.
Ford Mondeo Competition
In reality perhaps the Mondeo’s strongest rival is the Mondeo. In theory, it competes with the Camry, Mazda6, Subaru Liberty and suchlike but it is unlikely that typical midsize car buyers have the Mondeo on their shopping list.
Pity: Car Showroom has not driven a better car in this segment. The Mondeo (with optional leather) could wear an Audi or BMW badge and command double the price.
Ford Mondeo Likes:
Styling, space, exterior and interior bling, fabulous steering
Ford Mondeo Dislikes:
Steering wheel set too low