First Drive: Ford Mondeo
Review by Feann Torr
something cool about talking to your car. No, I'm not off my rocker and
I haven't been hanging out with Ben Cousins either. I've just spent
some time in the new Ford Mondeo, whose climate control, stereo
and Bluetooth telephony systems are all operable via voice.
And that's not even the coolest thing about this car. Not by far.
seven airbags - including an airbag for your knees - standard across
the range. Yes, even on the basic LX model that starts at $29,990.
Dynamic stability control is standard, likewise ABS, 6-speed
transmissions, electric front windows and mirrors, a capless fuel filler system, the list goes on.
new Mondeo is feature packed, but it's more than just a automotive
swiss army knife. It's easy on the eye, and is Ford's first car to use the
new kinetic design DNA. It's the safest car in its class, it drives
very nicely as we found out and, as a result, is going to pose some very serious
competition to vehicles like the Mazda6, Honda Accord, VW Passat and other premium
We've just finished driving the car which
is new to Australia - the Europeans have had it for a while now - and
we're very impressed. It does a lot of things well, and very few things
poorly. But why now? Why
the Mondeo after such an absence in the Australian market? Ford argues the medium
car market is now much bigger than it used to be, and makes up a much
larger slice of the overall Australian new car marketplace - more than
75,000 vehicles per year. It says the time is right for a new mid-sizer from the Blue Oval.
Price: $29,990 - $41,990
Transmissions: 6-speed automatic, 6-speed manual
Engine: Petrol - 2.3-litre 4-cylinder, 2.5-litre 5-cylinder turbo. Diesel - 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo diesel.
Car Supplier: Ford Australia
Ford's new Mondeo is not only a good driving
machine, but it's got class-leading safety, a new
design, diesel and petrol engines plus a big boot
$29,990, the new Mondeo is one of the most affordable vehicles in the
premium mid-size class, and goes up to around $45,000 if you buy the
XR5 Turbo with all the trimmings. Ford also mentioned that the first
250 Australian buyers will get free European style number plates. The
entry level LX is sedan-only, and the top level XR5 Turbo is hatch
only. The other models are offered in both hatch and sedan with price
LX 6-speed automatic: $29,990
Zetec 6-speed automatic: $34,990
TDCi 6-speed automatic: $37,990
XR5 Turbo 6-speed manual: $41,990
Prestige paint: $350
Voice control with Bluetooth: $450
'Cruise Pack' option (cruise control, 16-inch alloy
wheels, etc): $1,500
Sunroof (not available on LX): $1,900
Leather trim (Zetec/ TDCi only): $2,000
Styled using Ford's new 'kinetic' design
philosophy, both the interior and exterior
of the Mondeo exude a modern elegance
the Mondeo over some 500 kilometres of Australian bitumen, from
Canberra to Albury-Wondonga, winding across the tops of the Snowy
Mountains and through Kosciuszko National Park, it was evident
quite early in the drive that the Mondeo has a well-sorted chassis.
the entry level LX model ($29,990) managed to hustle through corners
without wallowing too much or exhibiting too much understeer, as some
front-wheel drive cars are want to do. All models had precise,
progressive steering, and the brakes felt strong. In a nutshell,
this is a very nice car drive.
new Ford Mondeo deals with a range of different conditions without
protest. There's enough compliance in the suspension to
deliver a smooth ride
around town and on the highway, and even some of the more
acute bumps we crossed paths with didn't
seem tounduly affect the chassis.
It rides smoothly on the road and with 6-speed
automatic gearboxes in all models except for the range-topping performance
model (Mondeo XR5 Turbo) the driving experience was as
refined as it was satisfying.
The inclusion of dynamic stability
control (DSC), ABS, and seven airbags standard across the range also
made the high altitude drive across the Snowy Hydro dams far
more reassuring, and enjoyable at that.
models get central locking and intelligently
designed steering wheels that are not too thin, but not too chunky
good contours. These steering wheels also come with fairly intuitive
directional pads not unlike a TV remote, which operate the car's
can be used to navigate the menu system located on the sporty
The standard feature list is
class-leading including the plethora airbags, stability control,
air-conditioning, a leather gear shifter, CD-stereo with AUX audio
input for an iPod or MP3 player, and a capless
refuelling system with misfuel inhibitor. Anyone who's ever lost a
fuel cap behind will appreciate the tidy new filling system.
control is not standard on
entry level Mondeo LX models, which is a shame. You'll need to purchase
the 'cruise pack' for that, which
costs $1500 and adds rear power windows, 16- alloy wheels, and a
leather wrapped steering wheel as well as cruise control.
mid-level Mondeo is the Zetec ($34,990) and gets all of the features of the LX then adds things like 17-inch
alloy wheels, fog lamps and an Aston-martin inspired premium front grille
to the exterior design. And I have to say, the angular 5-spoke alloy
wheels do look pretty swish. Interior features for the Zetec comprise
front and rear parking sensors, cruise control, dual zone climate
control, an upgraded Sony 6 stack CD player and rain sensing windscreen
comes as no surprise that Ford is predicting the Zetec model to be the
big seller in the range with such a profusion of features. Diesel TDCi
models cost a bit more than the Zetec models ($37,990) but get exactly
the same level of specification.
big kahuna of the range is the Ford Mondeo XR5 Turbo ($41,990),
which adds the bigger, brawnier turbo petrol engine, a sweet shifting
6-speed manual Getrag gearbox, and it gets a far more aggressive look
with 18-inch alloy wheels and a sports body kit complete with rear
spoiler, rear diffuser, and twin tail pipes. Sports suspension enhances
Mondeo XR5's handling (we'll get to that later on) and it benefits from
premium alcantara suede and leather trimmed sports seats.
XR5 Turbo Mondeo is also the car with all the techno gadgets, including
a keyless ignition. Leave the key fob in your pocket, and you simply
thumb the 'Power' button to start the engine. It also
benefits from a huge colour screen on the instrument cluster, which
Ford fondly refers to as the HMI, or human machine interface. This basically
allows you control most of the cars functions without ever removing your
hands from the steering wheel.
The voice activation system is
standard on the Mondeo XR5 Turbo too, though it is a relatively
inexpensive $450 option on Zetec and TDCi models, and well worth
checking out. Sure, we've seen this sort of technology on all the
prestige German brands like Audi and Mercedes-Benz, but to use it on a
Ford Mondeo is quite a thrill.
Just push a button and with a
number of voice commands you can change the temperature in the cabin,
adjust the radio, change the CD, or make a handsfree phone call with a
After playing silly buggers for a while and asking the
car for things like ice cream and guided missiles (to no avail), I said "climate" and a female voice then asked temperature?. I said "17" and the temp dropped. Nice. Then the softly spoken voice asks fan? and I said "Two". The fan speed then automatically sets to the low setting. Marvelous.
feature came in handy during the tight and twisty sections of the
launch drive as I turned off the air-conditioning without taking my
hands of the wheel, nor my eyes off the tight hairpins and fast
As well as an array of intelligent features, the
strong safety suite and impressive ride and handling, there's
always the Mondeo's design to consider. It's a very smart looking
automobile, available in both hatchback and sedan body styles. Even James Bond drives one these days!
calls the new design philosophy used on the Mondeo as 'kinetic', which will eventually
permeate all models - possibly even the upcoming 2008 Falcon.
Mondeo has a European appearance, yet takes one or two cues from
the Japanese medium sized cars in terms of its overall look and feel. Ford
talks about 'instant visual impact' and the smaller design cues -
the swept back headlights, the steeply angled front and rear
windscreens, the feature lines on the bonnet - contribute to this. But
for mine it is the Mondeo's overall body shape that works best.
It's sleek to look at, even the sedan, has a high belt line
and the pumped wheel arches add street cred.
The interior has a
similarly modern look and feel. Punctuated with a small
monotone LCD screen (and a large colour screen on the XR5 Turbo) the
instrument cluster has a really fresh design that eschews the typical
'perfect circle' design of most cars. The dash plastics are quite good and
there's a uncluttered feel about the cockpit, though the plastics
around the gear shifter seemed to scratch easily.
is surprisingly good; the front seats are comfy with firm
European-style seat backs, and the steering wheel and
voice controls ensure
that you'll rarely have to reach over to adjust the audio or the
heater. Even the rear seats are quite spacious, offering ample leg room
for 6-foot plus adults.
According to the figures, both
front and rear legroom is greater than the Honda Accord's, plus
there's three rear head rests and three
lap sash belts. Boot space is huge too, more than 500 litres in both hatch and sedan models.
With three engine choices in the Australian
Mondeo range, including one petrol, one diesel, and one turbo petrol
performance engine, all the bases have been covered.
Starting with the 2.3-litre petrol engine, which is very similar to
the engine from the Mazda6, it powers the entry level LX and mid-level
Zetec Mondeos. This 4-cylinder engine generates 118kW of power and
208Nm of torque but because the new Mondeo is fairly lardy, weighing
between about 1550 and 1600kg depending on the grade, it struggled up
steep hills and could do with a touch more mid range torque.
whole the base 4-cylinder engine motivates well and the 6-speed Aisin automatic (with a
true tiptronic mode that holds gears to the rev limiter) makes the most
of the available power.
The second engine in the Mondeo range
is diesel motor. The 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine dwarfs the
2.3-litre unit's 208Nm with a whopping 320Nm from just 1750rpm. It's
smooth, improves drivability substantially, and is remarkably quiet.
With such an expanse of torque low in the rev range - again coupled
with the competent 6-speed automatic gearbox - the Mondeo TDCi feels a
lot quicker than the petrol model. It's got guts this one.
the 2.3-litre petrol engine you rarely need to engage the tiptronic
mode to wring the most out of the engine as it rides on a chunky wave
of mid-range torque. Just flex the right foot and the car effortlessly
plows forward, and not even the steepest hills in the Snowy Mountains
posed a problem.
third engine in the range is the heavy hitter, the 2.5-litre
turbocharged petrol engine. An an unorthodox layout in modern motoring,
this inline 5-cylinder engine returns the same fuel
economy as the 2.3-litre engine (9.5L/100km), emits the same amount of
C02 (227g/km), but
offers superior acceleration and tractability.
To be concise, the
Mondeo XR5 Turbo is fast.
In terms of acceleration it's not as forceful nor quite as quick as the Ford Focus XR5
its a longer, heavier car, but it has plenty of poke nevertheless and
provides for effortless overtaking at highway speeds. It's also the
only model in the Mondeo range that is without a 6-speed auto. It
only comes with
a 6-speed manual, but with 162kW @ 5000rpm and 320Nm @ 1500rpm, it's
butch mid-range punch bests even the turbo diesel's so you can drive it lazily if you want.
It's a very nice car to drive too. It is somewhat more conservative to punt
than it's smaller sibling, the Focus XR5 Turbo which gets the same
engine, but with large 18-inch alloy wheels, grippy 235/40 R18
tyres, and sports suspension tune it cleaves through corners very
It can be a lot of fun through twisty roads and pours on speed in a
straight line very quickly thanks to the intercooled turbo engine, and
you can get on the gas early to punch out of corners with only mild
levels of understeer as the engine power finds its way to the road through the front wheels.
a fair amount of feedback from the wheel in the XR5 Turbo, moreso
than in the lesser Mondeo models, and it has good turn in.
It'll hold its line faithfully through a corner and responds to
steering adjustments without complaint, and because there's a touch of
compliance in the suspension mid-corner bumps and dips didn't seem to
fluster the chassis too much.
There's only a small amount of body
roll when you really crack it into a corner and when all things are
considered, this range-topping performance model is a fitting
flagship for the Mondeo line-up. Sure, it's a more
conservative car than the Focus XR5 Turbo, it's less aggressive, but
still has a generous performance envelope. It'll take on the Mazda6 MPS
(not sure whether it'll beat it though) and makes for a very engaging
Overall, the new Mondeo range is difficult to fault. There
were really only two issues I could uncover. Tyre noise didn't
seem to have been completely isolated, and while the capless refuelling
system is a great solution to getting rid of a fuel cap, owners
will need to get an adapter for the TDCi diesel models when refueling
with larger-sized truck nozzles.
in Germany, built in Belgium, the new Mondeo is a premium European
mid-sized car with a very friendly price point. Having already seen the
car, I had a feeling it was going to generate a lot of buzz. But
after driving it and messing with all the gadgets I was taken aback
with its levels of sophistication.
If it wasn't for the highly competitive era in the mid-sized market at the moment, I'd say Ford
is going to sell more of these than umbrellas on a wet day. But when
you've got cars like the Toyota Camry, Mazda6, Honda Accord, VW Passat,
Holden Epica, and the recently launched Skoda Octavia all vying for
attention, it's going to be a tough slog even if you've got the best
product on the market. And from the looks of things, the Mondeo seems
to have what it takes to be the overall class leader. Bold words,
but it's a bold car.
The new Ford Mondeo went on sale last
week at the motor show in Sydney, and ultimately completes Ford
Australian's new car range. There used to be a gap between it's small
cars like the Fiesta, and the large cars, such as the Falcon. That
gap now sealed.
There's a lot to like about the new
Mondeo, with its safety features, smooth ride and crisp handling at the
top of the list. The European media has been raving about the German
engineered car for a while now, and it's not hard to see why.
I can picture younger drivers loving the Mondeo's gadgetry and sharp handling, but the European car won't
put mature buyers offside as it's still a relatively conservative car with a
smooth ride and remarkable safety levels. And if you get bored, you can always talk to the car.
- Driving Dynamics
- Standard Features
- Safety Suite
- Exterior Design
- Tyre Noise
- Space Saver Spare
- Fuel Filler (Diesel)
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