Ford Mondeo Hatchback (2014 - ) review
The Mondeo is a stalwart of British roads, and is Ford's rival to the likes of the Vauxhall Insignia and Volkswagen Passat.
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While many family cars have a rather humdrum appearance, the latest Mondeo looks as sharp as a tack. The fine details and crisp lines have real cohesion, giving the car a real sense of sophistication and desirability – not something that Ford could claim with previous incarnations of the Mondeo. Even entry-level Style versions have alloy wheels as standard, but from Zetec trim upwards, you get body-coloured bumper mouldings, front fog lamps and various chromey bits that make the car look a good bit smarter. Don’t go too mad with your choice of wheels, though – the bigger they are, the harder the ride.
While the Mondeo’s bodywork generates some considerable wow-factor, the same can’t be said of the interior. The main touch-points are reasonably swanky, but some of the materials used elsewhere (the glovebox lid, door pockets and the slab of dark plastic slap-bang in the middle of the centre console, for example) really let the side down. Compared with the latest version of the VW Passat, and the Audis and BMWs that Ford is gunning for with this car, the Mondeo simply can’t compete. That said, there is a lot to like inside the car. The seats are wonderfully supportive and have a wide range of adjustment, while the touch-screen infotainment system is simple and intuitive. However, the screen could be a shade more sensitive, and your over-the-shoulder view is hampered by thick rear pillars and a small back window.
Even among rivals that are ever-increasing in size, the Mondeo is one big old car, and that translates into simply astonishing amounts of interior space. Four lofty adults have room to stretch out, and a fifth will squeeze in without too much complaint. The boot, too, is enormous, and the loadspace is a nice square shape. What’s more, the rear seats go virtually flat when you fold them down, which creates an enormous, level space for cargo. However, there’s a rather meaty load lip to negotiate, and you’ll also have to haul heavy items over the protruding rear bumper.
Ride and handling
This is an area in which Ford’s engineers usually excel, and it’s no different with the Mondeo; it’s a wonderfully accomplished car to drive. Whether you’re pounding along the motorway or tip-toeing along bobbly city streets, the car rides with real smoothness and sophistication, so you feel comfortable and cosseted at all times. Bigger choices of alloy wheel put a dent in this impressive comfort, but not to the point where you’ll complain. The handling also has what it takes to put a smile on your face. There’s no getting away from the fact this this is a very big, very heavy car, but with plentiful grip, tightly controlled body movements and steering that’s responsive and predictable, it changes direction with very impressive agility for a car of this size. Refinement is just as impressive. Wind- and road noise are kept at bay really effectively, making this car a sensational long-distance companion.
Diesel is king in this section of the market, and we’ve had a shot in three of the diesel engines available. The entry-level 1.6 has 113bhp, which sounds a little weedy for a car of this size, but it does a decent job. Sure, there’s a slight shortage of muscle at the bottom of the rev range, which makes life a little jerky when pulling away and will require you to stay busy with the gearbox when climbing hills. But, once you’re up and running, it motors along quite nicely. The 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel will form the vast majority of sales, but while it has enough low-end pull to eradicate the 1.6’s jerkiness when setting off, it doesn’t feel much brisker when you’re on the move. In a similar vein, the 178bhp version of this engine feels nowhere near as brisk or as flexible as its prodigious power output suggests. We’ve also tried other versions that won’t prove as popular with buyers as the diesels. The 158bhp 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol gives fairly lively performance right throughout the rev range, but you’ll notice one or two tiny flat-spots in the power delivery, while the turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol offers credible performance and refinement, but it's in no way a fast car. There's also a petrol-electric hybrid version, which offers decent performance on petrol, electric or a combination of each power, but can become quite noisy when the petrol motor kicks in at speed.
The Mondeo is not a cheap car when compared with a lot of its family car rivals, but it’s similar in price to its key competitor, the VW Passat. It’s also a good bit cheaper than cars like the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class, which Ford sees as rivals. However, the Mondeo’s resale values have traditionally been much lower than the competition’s, significantly elevating whole-life costs. So, you’ll need to pressure your dealer into giving you a big discount to help minimise your depreciation losses. The important engines in the range are pretty good on carbon dioxide emissions, meaning affordable tax bills for the company car drivers with which the Mondeo has traditionally been so popular. That also equates to strong fuel economy. The 1.6 diesel is the star of the show with an official figure of around 80mpg, while the more popular 2.0-litre diesel delivers around 70mpg. The hybrid is disappointing in this regard, being less economical than some of the diesels and it's not the cleanest, either, despite costing a fair bit more to buy than comparable diesels. On the petrol side of things, the 1.0-litre, 123bhp three-cylinder version is the best option for those private buyers doing a limited number of miles a year, hovering around the 55mpg mark and emits around 120g/km of CO2, so tax bills shouldn't be too horrendous. It's also considerably cheaper to buy than a diesel version of similar power.
Ford is currently riding fairly high in the manufacturer standings of Warranty Direct’s Reliability Index, and the Mondeo has a fairly solid score as an individual model. If things do go wrong, parts and repairs are pretty affordable. While the Mondeo’s materials and build quality aren’t as plush as in some rivals, everything feels dependable and sturdy.
Whichever version of the Mondeo you choose, you’ll get an impressive suite of safety measures, including stability control, a plethora of airbags and a hill-start assistant. Progress up the range, and you get more and more safety gadgets. High-spec versions have things like traffic sign recognition and a lane-keeping aid, while even more safety gizmos are available on the options list. Ford offers a collision mitigation system that warns of an impending low-speed impact and slows or stops the car if the driver takes no action, along with inflatable rear seat belts that give better protection in a smash. This kind of technology is a big part of the reason why the Mondeo has achieved the maximum five-star rating in Euro NCAP crash tests.
The entry-level Style model comes with most of what you need, including dual-zone climate control, electric front windows, cruise control and the touch-screen infotainment system with DAB radio and Bluetooth. However, we reckon it’s worth upgrading to Zetec trim for a full set of powered windows, heated windscreen and power folding door mirrors, as well as those all-important styling goodies we talked about earlier. Paying the extra for the Titanium model earns you sat-nav, a digital instrument cluster and automatic lights and wipers, while adding the Titanium X pack gets you leather upholstery on your powered and heated seats.
You’ll choose a Mondeo for its stylish looks and its competitive running costs, but you’ll love spending time in it thanks to its impressive handling, cosseting ride comfort and sensational refinement. Some rivals do better in a few areas, but this is without doubt one of the best cars of its type.