First Drive: Ford Mondeo
Sector: Upper Medium Price: £20,795–£27,550 Fuel: 38.7–78.5mpg CO2: 94–169g/km
Most carmakers claim their latest model is eagerly awaited. Ford, however, can make a claim more credible than most with its fourth generation Mondeo.
The all-new iteration of the fleet favourite has been around for a while, having been revealed at the Paris Motor Show two years ago and on sale in the US as the Fusion since 2012. The delayed European launch, caused by shifting production from Genk to Valencia, itself no small undertaking, must have been a frustration for the carmaker but the forced delay showed just how good the last generation model was as its life was extended into an unplanned seventh year.
Each successive Mondeo has been a game-changer but the outgoing model set a particularly high benchmark for what is achievable in the volume D-segment. So how do you make an outstanding car better? The latest model adds plenty of new technology, safety features – including the first rear seatbelt airbag – and creature comforts to the mix. Importantly, though, as the first European model to be built on Ford’s new global CD-segment platform it also benefits from even better driving dynamics.
While the attractive styling nods to continuity, the profile is more coupe-like than before, and the wagon has never looked better. Unfortunately the grille is every bit as over-sized as it looks in the photographs. While it is easy to be seduced by the upmarket look and feel of the cabin, with its plethora of bells and whistles and sheer roominess, it is the driving experience which continues to distinguish the Mondeo.
We tested a five-door 2.0-litre 115g/km 180bhp TDCi diesel and 1.5-litre 134g/km 160bhp EcoBoost petrol wagon across long and demanding road routes in southern Spain. The motorway runs revealed how the Mondeo has actually improved upon its primary purpose as a no-nonsense mile muncher with higher levels of comfort and refinement than before. Even, outside its natural environment up and down the tight sweeping inclines of Andalucia, both saloon and wagon shared an agility and responsiveness that belied their generous proportions, with the small petrol unit admirably punching above its weight.
Petrol will be offered across four engines but only account for 5% of projected sales. Fleets will be more focused on the three 2.0-litre diesel options – which also include 150 and 210bhp outputs – which collectively will account for 69% of total sales. A 1.6-litre 115bhp 109g/km diesel will also join the range in the spring and take 23% of sales. All-wheel drive diesel variants join the line-up for the first time early next year.
Prices start at £20,795 for the diesel-only Style, £21,045 for the Zetec and £22,245 for the Titanium. While the Titanium X pack, which includes LED headlamps and leather trim and powered seats, adds a further £2,000. In keeping with the established tradition of savvy company car drivers opting for the highest possible spec for their budgets, Titanium will be the most popular trim level accounting for 51% of sales.
Furthermore, according to Ford boss Mark Ovenden, the decision to pull back from fast churn daily rental has resulted in an average uplift in residual values of £1,200 across the new range. This should result in lower contract hire rates with Ford Lease already offering the 2.0-litre Zetec diesel from just £229 a month over three years.
This sector has changed beyond recognition since the last Mondeo was launched, with the premium marques now dominating company car sales and crossovers presenting practical alternatives. Yet once again Ford’s flagship model offers a compelling proposition that will reward user-choosers wishing to maximise on their allowances, minimise their BiK exposure and enjoy first class driving dynamics.
The Ford Mondeo continues to deliver a compelling fleet story, from its fresh new sporty look, refinement and wide choice of low emission diesel engines, to better than before driving characteristics, higher RVs and lower contract hire rates. What's not to like?