Yes, folks, it’s finally here – the all-new, fourth-generation Ford Mondeo. Debutant of the new Ford large car platform (which will also underpin the next S-Max) and purveyor of such goodies as Sync 2 infotainment, some exceptionally comprehensive handling technology and a vast array of safety equipment, including inflatable rear seatbelts, the new Mondeo is a brave mainstream hope in a BMW 3-series obsessed world.
How much does the new Mondeo cost and when does it go on sale?
On sale now from £20,795 ahead of first deliveries before the end of the year, the range will eventually include such exoticism as a 1.0-litre Ecoboost turbo petrol, a petrol-electric hybrid and a sequentially twin-turbocharged 2.0-litre turbodiesel with 207bhp. But we’ve taken to the roads of southern Spain in core, single-turbo 2.0-litre TDCi five-door guise, albeit with the meatier 178bhp power output.
Has the Blue Oval managed to pull off an everyman coup once again, or should you go back to perusing the monthly lease packages available from the premium Germans? Let’s see.
New Mondeo, eh? Looks familiar…
That's the first problem – it’s nearly three years overdue. You can read executive editor Tim Pollard’s in-depth analysis of why the 2015 European Mondeo is lagging behind the 2012 North American Fusion (which is essentially the same car) by clicking here. But the logistics of it can’t alleviate the inevitable impact of time; while familiarity has hardly been breeding contempt – especially in the eyes of the less car-obsessed British public – the reality is the ‘new’ Mondeo doesn’t seem as fresh as it first did, now that the rest of the Ford range has stolen its styling cues.
Still, as with the previous version, you do get a vast amount of car for your cash. A lack of space is unlikely to be an issue, front, back or boot – and that’s before we consider the developed-for-Europe estate. Power everything, including steering column adjustment, adds extra luxury.
What’s the new Mondeo like on the inside?
The dashboard is mercifully uncluttered compared to many a recent Ford, with a restrained number of buttons and a large central touchscreen. This is divided into four colour coded sectors, giving you easy – yes, even intuitive – access to the major functions, no matter what you’ve got on the display at the time. This may swiftly prove irrelevant, however, as Sync’s voice control has been extended to the point where you can now talk to the climate control to change the temperature and even tell the satnav ‘I’m hungry’ to bring up a list of local restaurants, complete with Michelin guide info. It works commendably well.
The dials are now part digital, which amongst other things means you get animated visuals of all the extra safety kit. Bright red lights above the gauge cluster serve as a back-up distance warning to the car in front, just in case this gets too distracting. As these bells and whistles suggest, new Mondeo is offered with an array of sensors that provide everything from autonomous braking capabilities to adaptive cruise control and pedestrian detection. The inflatable rear seat belts, meanwhile, act as airbags for the backseat passengers.
Overall, it’s a very clean, very modern interior design, easily competitive with any mainstream rival. But it doesn’t exude quality from every surface in quite the same way as those pesky Germans…
Ford’s ace is usually the driving experience – how does new Mondeo stand up?
We weren’t exactly blown away by the 178bhp 2.0-litre TDCi engine, which feels rather flat despite a significant overhaul. Ford reports the new Mondeo is 25kg lighter than the old one – thanks to increased use of high-strength steels, which also makes it 10% stiffer – but this modest weight reduction isn’t enough to make the car seem significantly breezier under acceleration.
In keeping with Mondeo tradition, however, the front-wheel drive chassis is quite something. There’s new ‘integral link’ rear suspension, which presumably helps, and Ford of Europe went through five different rear bush designs – each with a two-month evaluation process – before it was prepared to sign-off the car. The result of such detail-orientated engineering is an appetite for bends that’s almost unbecoming for a vehicle of this size, the new ‘Continuous Control Damping’ stubbornly resisting body roll and delivering vast amounts of dry grip, while still soaking up bumps with fantastic decorum.
This is usually the point in a review where we insert a complaint about electric power steering assistance, so let’s not break with our own tradition. Ford says this is good because it allows the weighting to vary with the Comfort, Normal and Sport adaptive suspension settings (plus it saves a few g/km CO2, no doubt); we say it costs the car some of the confidence-inspiring front-end feedback that really made the previous Mondeo such a delight. Ho hum.
Hit me with some science…
Partial compensation comes in the form of new handling-enhancing electronics – namely torque vectoring control, torque steer compensation, ‘Pull-Drift’ compensation and the somewhat peculiar-sounding ‘Active Nibble’ compensation. These all appear to be different ways of saying that the car will attempt to work miracles on your behalf in order to keep you pointing in your chosen direction. Except the last one, which we suspect is a fancy phrase for reduced feedback – see the previous paragraph.
This is all very well, but add active lane keeping assistance – which also ‘torques’ the steering, this time to stop you from straying out of your carriageway during that vital Bluetoothed convo about the 3pm financial – and with so many other things acting on the front wheels in addition to the steering wheel, you occasionally get the unnerving sensation that the system is rebooting your line partway through a corner.
Further pluses include terrific refinement and a well-calibrated set of brakes; on the minus side sits the slack-shifting six-speed manual gearbox. A Powershift auto is optional, which we’re yet to try.
All told, new Mondeo carries on where old Mondeo left off – so should you, for whatever reason, find yourself driving one, then you might as well be proud. By most rational measures, it stands toe-to-toe with every other car in this market sector; there’s plenty of tech, it’s good value and its efficiency is vying for top honours as well. That familiar badge might not carry heavyweight prestige, but new Mondeo is best of the rest, by a long way.