Some body is determined that I should dislike
the Mondeo. In a range crawling with leather clad V6s and ST 24s 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 its 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 wasnt 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 dont have to wring its neck to get decent
urge from it. It has a suspicion that its 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 didnt 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 Im not really sure. But it was definitely there. Its
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 its 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 wasnt evident in other Mondeos Ive tried so if
there is a small problem it appears to be random and sporadic rather than
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 its 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. Its a safe handler rather than an exciting
one, but it has just enough shine not to dull the experience.
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 its 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 doesnt
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.
build front the Mondeo has a reasonable reputation. The only slightly iffy part
I could spot, was the combined Petrol/Rear door release that didnt.
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
its a petrol Estate, its 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 Mondeos 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 arent 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 youre 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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