UK CAR 
Used car review

Ford Mondeo 1.8 LX Estate

 

Some body is determined that I should dislike the Mondeo. In a range crawling with leather clad V6’s and ST 24’s first they give me an asthmatic diesel, then they give me the less than dainty Estate powered by a weedy sounding 1.8 litre rep special. 
Could have been worse I suppose they might have found a Diesel Estate.

If anything has less street cred than a diesel Mondeo it’s an Estate Mondeo, and with this one resplendent in lurid look at me white paint made sure that any street cred I had would dissolve very quickly.  

So armed with the keys and a Balaclava I waited for dark before sneaking home. Strangely enough the journey home wasn’t too unpleasant. The roads were hardly challenging but the Mondeo rode smoothly and the Duratec engine spun smoothly and pushed the Mondeo along the outside lane of the Motorway in Sales Rep mode with little noise or stress. 

The 1.8 litre Duratec motor is a sweet unit. It revs freely to its high upper limits but has its torque nicely spread across a large range of revs, meaning you don’t have to wring its neck to get decent urge from it. It has a suspicion that it’s a little short at the low extremities of its range, but the slick gear change makes up for any low-end defiencies. Allowing quick and easy access to any point of the rev range.

The pedals have a pleasantly meaty feeling to them, the clutch feels strong and it may just need to be if you attempt to stretch the Mondeo to the limits of its Weight capacity and get decent performance from the rev happy 1.8  

Braking is excellent with the Mondeo pulling up sharp and straight, the calipers displaying good initial bite, without any tendency toward unwarranted grabbiness.

Pulling up straight is supposed to be a Mondeo weak point. There have been reports of Mondeos having a tendency to pull to one side. This one didn’t do it on the Brakes, but did have a slight inclination to head toward the kerb if left to its own devices. Keeping one hand lightly on the wheel at all times (a good habit to get in too for the most part) stopped this happening. Whether it was tracking related or a suspension related sensitivity to Camber I’m not really sure. But it was definitely there. It’s most noticeable on Motorways where it needs to be held constantly in its own lane, rather than developing a speed induced increasing level of stability and straightness. Not that it’s a difficult thing stay on top off, or even remotely dangerous, you just develop the habit of steering it slightly as you glide down Motorways. It wasn’t evident in other Mondeos I’ve tried so if there is a small problem it appears to be random and sporadic rather than Endemic.

The Mondeo pulls off the neat trick of riding very comfortably but handling with a level of precision which is really rather surprising for a big estate.  The nicely weighted steering has a decent level of precision, even if the weight feels slightly false, almost as if it’s engineered in rather than designed in. The empty car park test shows that the front end can easily be provoked to run wide and it natural balance is definitely heavily front biased, but on the road under steer rarely shows it self unless you are pushing on in a manner rather unseemly for an Estate car anyway. It’s a safe handler rather than an exciting one, but it has just enough shine not to dull the experience.

 

The Mondeo's interior does a good job of exaggerating the amount of space on offer. It really does feel like a big roomy car from the inside. In the front at least it has plenty of head and shoulder room, and a huge range of legroom. It's also quite nicely put together. The materials may not quite be to Audi/BMW standards, but the design is more than competent and doesn't jar and irritate you constantly. My only real niggle would be that the centre arm rest isn't usable for people of my (average) height and would seem suitable for six foot plussers only. This one has proper seat adjustment not the daft tilting mechanism found on earlier renditions and allows perfect adjustment.  Being only LX spec it’s hardly endowed with lashing of equipment. Electric windows are almost de-rigueur on any car now, so are hardly a plus point. Wing Mirrors are manual adjustment so may be a pain if you have multiple regular drivers.  Air con doesn’t find its way in at this level, but as winter approaches that less of a concern. The heating and ventilation though is strong, and as the ice starts to set in Fords heated windscreen provides an excellent quick clearing bonus.

 

On the build front the Mondeo has a reasonable reputation. The only slightly iffy part I could spot, was the combined Petrol/Rear door release that didn’t.  At least an easy access hatch is provided in the boot should it fail. Inspection revealed a rather small cheap plastic cam had fell off/apart. As it’s a petrol Estate, it’s likely to be heavily used so perhaps Ford should toughen it up for later versions.

 
The boot on voluminous estate is truly enormous. Massive flat and wide, with a low loading lip. It is surely as much if not more than most people will every truly need
. I could stash 3 large dogs securely in the boot and still have the entire back seat for passengers. With split folding rear seats, I would be pushed to think of an occasion when I really would need bigger than this. Add in the Mondeo’s decent towing capacity and you really could take the kitchen sink away with you.  Ford includes a load cover even at the lowly LX spec point. Its not too shabby an Item either being a thick strong roller blind type with good solid fixings that aren’t going to snap off after a dozen removals and insertions.

 

The only worry I would have is that the massive space may lead you to filling it beyond a comfortable level for the 1.8 litre motor.  

Word is that the Mondeo has a tough reliable motor, and with it also being a great seller, it should mean plenty of good quality second hand units for an awfully long time. If the spares/servicing prices are the usual Ford standard (i.e. cheap) then you really can't go wrong. The Mondeo is hardly an exciting car, but it is very capable family transport, in Estate form it may not be the prettiest car in the world but it is large and useful. But if you’re really going to use it too the full extent of its capacity the extra pull of the 2 litre may be worth investigating.

 

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