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The Top Gear car review:Ford Mondeo
For:Clear improvements over the old one, now almost a match for premium rivals
Against:Not quite as much fun on a twisting back road, still lacks the premium badge
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What we say:
Looks a bit like the old one but brings solid gains in comfort and tech. Back at the competitive sharp end
What is it?
Pretty much an all-new car, designed to do pretty much exactly what the very familiar old one did. It’s a big family hatch and estate. Because the market has diversified, it will be joined at the top of Ford’s range by a big crossover-SUV called the Edge, plus of course a renewed S-Max and Galaxy, all based on the same platform.
We get 1.5 and 2.0 turbo petrols, an economy-biased 1.6 diesel and a 2.0 diesel in three outputs – we tested the middle 180bhp version. There’s also a hybrid petrol – big in the US, of minority interest here.
In a car this heavy even the 180 engine needs to be worked. But it’s well-behaved and quiet for a diesel, so that’s OK. Mondeos have always been renowned for handling. This time they’ve installed a complex (read: expensive) rear suspension that aims to maintain that, while smoothing the ride.
You actually notice the ride first: it’s very well insulated from big and small bumps, and the tyres’ passage is quiet. The Mondeo is also an excellent motorway cruiser – mission-critical for a big company car. What with that and the new, lighter electric steering, you feel rather too isolated from the action in corners. But it turns out this is an immensely well-behaved car that can cover difficult roads very tidily. Perhaps it’s not quite as much fun to drive as the old one, but the overall premium-like satisfaction has been significantly improved.
On the inside
The dials and controls work well. Most versions have a virtual instrument cluster – only the perimeter numbers on the dials are real while the rest is a configurable TFT. There’s also a big centre-console touch screen for connections, maps and climate control. Again, it works well and has clean graphics. Basic climate and audio controls have their own hard buttons, and here things start to look less rosy – the visual and tactile quality isn’t up with best rivals. A bigger ergonomic whoopsie is the gearlever – the change is fine, but we kept bashing our elbow on the fixed armrest. The bulky front seats restrict rear foot room more than you’d wish, too. Otherwise it’s spacious and comfy.
People point out that mass-market Fords depreciate more than premium BMWs, but in the end the Ford is still much cheaper to own. The new price is much less and equipment better. Paying for it, by lease or outright, is going to be a whole lot cheaper. So will be the company car tax, thanks to Ford’s tight control of CO2 emissions (even the 150bhp 2.0-litre diesel is sub-110g/km). There’s a Ford dealer on every corner. There’s lots of safety kit too, which is good for lowering insurance.