What is the Ford Mondeo?
The Ford Mondeo was once the UK’s most popular company car, but no longer. The BMW 3-series has taken that accolade, as we live in an age when the badge on a car’s bonnet counts as much as its running costs. Yet, despite being a bit long-in-the-tooth now (a delayed fifth generation is expected in 2015), the Mondeo is better than ever and ought to feature on any buyer’s test-drive shortlist.
The fourth generation was launched in 2007 but a number of incremental improvements, including new, more economical petrol engines, have kept it in the fight. There is a choice of hatchback and estate body styles and both are extremely practical.
The most affordable to run, for company car drivers and private buyers alike, is the entry-level 1.6-litre TDCi Econetic, but our pick would be the 2.0 TDCi, as it offers greater performance without sacrificing fuel economy to any great extent — it manages 53.3mpg. As for trims, the basic Edge spec offers air-conditioning, cruise control and Bluetooth integration, while Zetec, our preferred trim, adds climate control and slightly sportier suspension settings.
Ford’s Mondeo sets the standard for delivering a satisfying driving experience. In fact, it’s so accomplished that were a blindfold test drive not a ridiculously dangerous idea, its driver would swear they were at the wheel of a luxury saloon.
These good impressions start with the throttle response, clutch, steering and brake pedal; all are finely calibrated, responsive and precise, while the gearchange is smooth and direct. When you get on the move, the drive is refined and the ride is excellent, making the Mondeo a pleasure to cover ground in, be it on motorways or winding country roads. And when the road does start to twist and turn, the suspension and steering are tuned to make this big car feel pleasingly light and agile, and there are good levels of feedback about grip levels. Unusually for this type of car, it’s good fun.
The 138bhp 2.0 TDCi is responsive from low in the rev range, which is useful for overtaking, and can spirit the car from standstill to 60mph in 9.5 seconds. It’s also refined in all conditions, and settles down to a relaxing cruise at main-road speeds.
This is a big car, but at least that means you get plenty of cabin space. There’s a generous helping of leg and headroom in the front, as well as plenty of elbow space, and three adults can sit comfortably in the back seats.
As for the vast boot, you could practically move home with it: it has 528 litres of luggage space when the rear seats are in place and 1,448 litres when they are folded away. The hatchback opens up high, and piling large loads into the boot is made easier by a wide aperture.
The driver’s environment is comfortable, with multi-adjustment for the seat and steering wheel, and the dashboard is clearly laid out and user-friendly. However, it’s bland to look at — a VW Passat feels more upmarket, and the Mondeo’s archrival, the Vauxhall Insignia, feels more modern.
A five-star score awarded by Euro NCAP for occupant protection during a crash confirms that Ford has done a good job of building a safe car.
What to look out for when buying a used Ford Mondeo Mk 4
The Mondeo is pretty tough, and the only recalls for this fourth-generation model have been for a brake pedal issue (in 2.0 Duratorq diesels) and malfunctioning headlights and indicators. There have been reports of failures in the stop-start system and the dual-mass flywheel, leaking boots and power-steering-pump problems, but given the numbers sold, the number of faults is very small, and the Mondeo has scored well in reliability and satisfaction surveys. Servicing and repair costs are low, too — no wonder it is such a favourite for business fleets.
The one to buy
Ford Mondeo 2.0 TDCi Zetec
- £21,195 (correct at time of publishing)
- 1997cc, 4 cylinders
- 138bhp @ 3750rpm
- 236 lb ft @ 1750rpm
- 6-speed manual
- 0-62mph in 9.5sec
- Top Speed:
- 53.3mpg (combined)
- Road Tax Band:
- L 4784mm, W 1886mm, H 1500mm
Ford Mondeo rivals
- Volkswagen Passat (click to check used car prices on driving.co.uk)
- Mercedes-Benz C-class (click to check used car prices on driving.co.uk)
- Vauxhall Insignia (click to check used car prices on driving.co.uk)