In Titanium X guise, the latest facelift version of Ford’s acclaimed Mondeo hatchback looks great with its tastefully sporty, masculine and aggressive styling, ‘ready for action’ stance, attractive road presence and elegant front and rear LEDs. ‘Kinetic design’, Ford call it – and it works very well. What’s more, there is an absence of any tell-tale ‘eco’ badges, which might be important for some buyers. The discrete and classy ‘Midnight Sky’ metallic paint looks lovely. It’s the kind of car the majority of people will find it hard to fault externally in any way and Ford continues in the same vein when it comes to the interior.
The exterior’s high build quality is impressively matched by the interior’s, which feels nothing short of Germanic in the main. One passenger even described the Mondeo’s interior as being “just like in a limousine.” Apart from the slightly flimsy-feeling glovebox, the interior really is a nice place to be. The Alcantara and leather sports seats are very comfortable, the handbrake, gearstick and centre console are positioned in perfect relation to each other, the switchgear is of a very good quality and feels well-constructed and the ergonomics can’t be argued with, all the controls being where you would like and intuitive to use. I found the leather steering wheel very comfortable with a plethora of controls at my fingertips, behind which sits Ford’s excellent driver information system. The screen is incredibly easy to read and operate, and doubles up as a way of controlling the radio, CD, telephone, driver information and a whole host of car setup options such as Volvo’s effective BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) which makes the wing mirrors display an orange light when a car enters your blind spot, and the Lane Departure Warning which vibrates the steering wheel should you unintentionally deviate over the dashed lines on the motorway. These two safety features come courtesy of Ford’s Driver Assistance Pack 1 which costs an extra £525. Apart from one occasion when the Lane Departure Warning didn’t appear to kick in, and the blind spot lights often staying lit when driving past hedgerows and the like, the safety features are well worth the money in my opinion.
Reinforcing the ECOnetic version’s green intentions, the dashboard display includes an EcoMode section which teaches you how to drive efficiently by presenting you with three flowers, representing Gear Shifting, Anticipation and Speed. Each flower has five petals and the better you score in these three areas, the more petals you are awarded. Initially, largely owning to driving straight into the nearby hills to take a few photos, the MPG and petal rating I achieved were poor, but as the week went on, I scored 5 petals for Gear Shifting and Anticipation and the MPG improved noticeably. EcoMode brings a whole new meaning to asking your wife “How’s my driving, petal?” and proves that simple changes in one’s driving habits really can reap dividends when it comes to lessening your fill-ups at the pump. The ECOnetic is also fitted with stop-start, which I didn’t find bothersome at all.
This particular press car also came fitted with the excellent £1,000 touchscreen menu and navigation system which I would highly recommend to all prospective buyers. It makes operating many of the car’s functions, from the radio and climate control to the Bluetooth telephone and sat nav, an absolute doddle. For all you motorway rep’s out there and anyone else who is into their gadgets, the Bluetooth telephone system worked splendidly and even an elderly relative with impaired hearing found my call to be crisp and trouble-free. The sound system coped very well with Erykah Badu’s ‘Baduism’ CD, which I tend to try out in all review cars, and it presented all kinds of music from classical to pop very well.
A number of handy storage compartments are dotted around the interior, from a cavernously deep one under the central console to a practical rear armrest. The boot is huge and would easily swallow up the average family’s weekly shopping or their holiday luggage, although some may find it hard to place objects as far back in the boot as possible as it does go back a long way into the car.
The rear seats fold flat 60:40 so although there’s not a huge amount of height available what with the car being a hatchback, you should be able to carry large, shallower objects in the boot fairly easily. I found the bonnet very heavy to open, the first time I tried it, but once you come to terms with it, it’s fine.
There’s plenty of legroom and an all-round feeling of spaciousness in both the front and rear, but people of around 5ft in height and also those above 6ft may struggle for obviously different reasons. Finding a comfortable position within reach of all the pedals and other controls whilst maintaining safe visibility over the expansive bonnet may prove difficult for shorter drivers, whilst those of above average height may complain that visibility out of the windscreen is impaired by the plunging roofline, unless they slouch in the front seats. In the back, people under 6ft should find legroom and headroom ample but for anyone taller who has a tendency to sit bolt upright, they may find their head clashes with the interior roof lining. I tested the car with 5 adults all of average height or under and nobody complained. One observation I would make is that less agile people may find that access to the front seats proves a squeeze, due to the car’s low-down stance, so care not to bang your head on the way in is a must for such ones.
So what’s the Mondeo ECOnetic 1.6 diesel like out on the road? The first thing I noticed was an intermittent, mystery sloshing noise from underneath, which baffled me a bit but it seemed to lessen as the week went on and I’ll put it down to being the fuel tank. The engine is started courtesy of a push button labelled ‘Power’, which starts the car when the clutch pedal is depressed. The dash and touchscreen light up like a Christmas tree, in a nice kind of way, and the engine although fairly clattery from the outside, is fairly well suppressed on the inside for the majority of the time. Considering the myriad features they’ve packed into the latest Mondeo, I was surprised to see a conventional handbrake instead of an electronic parking brake or even just a more fancily-styled conventional one like in the Ford S-Max. Engaging reverse gear is smooth but visibility is slightly limited due to the upward-sloping rear and high-up rear window, so thankfully the car was fitted with front and rear parking sensors. Despite the Mondeo’s large dimensions, I found it quite easy to manoeuvre after a week living with it daily and would even go as far as describing it as quite agile and nimble when it comes to parking and reversing. I was impressed by the Halogen Adaptive Front lighting System (AFS) headlights which turn as you steer, and the Static Corner Lights which make parking and entering/exiting that bit more enjoyable.
The 6-speed manual gearbox much prefers to be taken up the gears as quickly as possible to maintain both smoothness and economy, so expect to often find yourself in 5th gear by 40mph. The EcoMode system even tells you when you should shift up or down a gear, by means of green arrows on the dash, which is another welcome feature for those who are interested. Striving to match the car’s gear recommendations often required constant shifting up and down, which was a bit annoying. The car definitely struggled in 2nd gear sometimes, when you would least expect it, needing to be dropped back into 1st gear for a brief moment to regain momentum on even just slight inclines. The 1.6 powerplant unarguably feels underpowered at times, lacking in ‘oomph’ with a noticeable turbo lag and a certain degree of clattering. But I’ll let it off, as nobody likes driving in town traffic with its inevitable queues and obstacles. To its credit, it handles ubiquitous urban annoyances such as speed bumps and pot holes admirably well, somewhat making up for its need to be hard-revved at times. The Ford Mondeo has always been a car purchased in the droves by and for businesspeople, spending a lot of its life out on the open roads and motorways across the UK. And this eco version still ticks this box very well. In 5th and 6th gears it’s very smooth and performs well, although you definitely need to drop down a couple of gears if you want to carry out any audacious overtaking moves. Otherwise, if you’re happy to cruise along steadily and plan ahead as far as overtaking is concerned, the Mondeo performs very well and can even eek out another 10mph in 6th gear relatively quickly without having to drop down to 5th. Wind noise is always present at motorway speeds but the interior does do quite a good job of softening it, so especially with music on it’s easy to forget it. Cruise control is very easy to operate although it didn’t seem to improve the MPG much at all. Torque is only modest at 199lb ft, the gearing is rather high and acceleration from the small engine isn’t exactly rapid but what would you really expect from a car designed to be as environmentally and financially friendly as possible?
A hugely impressive trait of the latest Mondeo is its excellent handling. The steering is very responsive and the suspension does a fantastic job too, between them making light work of any surface and road conditions you throw at them. The car handles like it’s on rails and certainly provides a reassuring feeling of being planted on the road. If you want a hatchback or saloon which offers an engaging, sporty drive, this is a strong contender without a shadow of a doubt.
Okay, so it looks fantastic, handles excellently and is equally adept at urban situations as it is being a mile-munching motorway cruiser, but how do the purported eco figures stack up against real-world testing?
Ford claim that the 115bhp ‘Duratorq’ 1.6 diesel power plant in the Mondeo ECOnetic will dish up 56.5mpg in the urban jungle and a whopping 72.4mpg extra urban, resulting in a combined figure of 65.7mpg. After a week of driving very sensibly and economically indeed, the highest Average Fuel readout I managed to bring up on the dash display was 57mpg. In stop-start town traffic, the Mondeo managed just over 40mpg. These figures are pretty good in general isolation, but not when compared to the stated figures. It’s fair to say that other cars of a similar size and price manage the same if not better MPG figures, and that’s even when they’re driven less frugally than how I drove the Mondeo over the last week. Average drivers who don’t have a right foot like a feather will struggle to even achieve the figures I did, I reckon. At 114g/km, CO2 emissions from this 1.6 turbodiesel ECOnetic are very appealing and the first year of Road Tax is free, increasing to only £30 for the second year onwards. For the all-important company car market, the Mondeo will result in a very positive 13% Benefits In Kind (BIK) tax penalty, which is about half the BIK compared to the 2 litre diesel version. Range wise, I would say based on my experiences over the last week that the average driver would get 700 miles from a tank doing a mix of urban and motorway miles. Those who spend nearly all their time on motorways may achieve more per tank, perhaps near 800 miles, but I doubt much more.
With a standard starting price of £24,395 for this model and an OTR price of £26,415 after the metallic paint, touchscreen system and Driver Assistance Park 1 were added, this Titanium X specification is definitely aimed primarily at company bosses who want their staff to choose high-spec but low-polluting combinations, theoretically resulting in smiles all round.
So what’s my verdict, then? As long as you’re not hung up about its pedestrian performance which struggles at times, this very well built, high specification mid-range car is definitely one you should consider. Whether it’s in a business or domestic context, the Mondeo ECOnetic’s green credentials and financial arguments are hard to ignore in today’s world and it definitely pits itself very well against rivals.
Urban MPG: 56.5
Extra Urban MPG: 72.4
Combined MPG: 65.7
CO2 Emission: 114
Tyre Size (inches): 17
‘Home safe’ lighting
‘Titanium’ finish interior trim details
2-way power driver’s & passenger seat height adjust
Advanced Bluetooth ® with Voice Control
Air conditioning with dual EATC
Alcantara / leather seats
Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) with EBA
Ford Easy Fuel
Front & Rear park assist
Front seats – Climate control (hot/cold)
Intelligent Protection System including driver’s knee airbag
LED Daytime running lights
LED interior lighting
LED Rear lights
Power child locks
Quickclear’ heated windscreen
Thatcham (Category 1) alarm