The latest incarnations of Ford’s other models have sported Aston Martin-style mouths for some time, now, but the new 2015 Mondeo particularly benefits from the treatment. On paper, it’s 30mm wider and just shy of 90mm longer than the previous model. In the flesh, it does indeed strike one as being a significantly larger car, although some of the credit for this must go to its indisputably attractive face complete with sleek headlights and ‘that’ grille, which opens and closes its slats automatically to improve airflow and reduce drag. Ford is still very much one of the class’ clever clogs. I was provided with a new Mondeo estate in Titanium trim to test and the styling of the side profile and rear has somewhat disappointingly hardly deviated from its predecessor, though, although the rear LED lights do look very smart. The whole thing feels very much a facelift rather than a new model as such, but it still works effectively, particularly in darker colours and with the optional 19” rims as tested. The latest Mondeo’s primary rivals include the ŠKODA Superb, Mazda6 and Volkswagen Passat. The Vauxhall Insignia should probably be included, too. I’m not someone who feels that the two aforementioned VAG products are dour to behold but, based on aesthetics, I’d plump for the offering from the Land of the Rising Sun.
Upmarket aspirations have clearly shaped the new Mondeo’s interior, with an 8-inch colour touchscreen in pride of place, leather covering many of the controls and surfaces, and chrome splashed around the place, too. The car’s increased footprint translates into an impressively roomy interior complete with an array of storage and charging facilities. Oodles of kit comes as standard, from DAB radio, SYNC2 voice control that can even read text messages out, dual-zone air conditioning and cruise control, to an electrically adjustable passenger seat including lumbar, and a Quickclear heated windscreen. Titanium specification as tested also means you get sat nav, front fog lights, rain-sensing wipers, folding door mirrors, ambient lighting, TFT instruments, hill launch assist, a tonneau cover and chrome roof rails.
Ford is also proud of the new Mondeo’s safety features, which through Titanium include lane keeping aid and traffic sign recognition. Clever rear seatbelt airbags are an optional extra, as are Active City Stop (£200) and Active Park Assist (£450). It’s a shame they’re not included as standard, though. This month has ended on a hideously wet note here in the UK, but during a previously glorious warm spell that coincided with the Mondeo’s time with me, I was grateful for the £900 panoramic roof (with opening) and privacy glass in equal measure. Ford’s Titanium X Pack kept my posterior nice and toasty on chilly mornings, allowed me to get comfortable with 10-way seat adjustment and lit up the road ahead more than adequately with Dynamic LED headlamps, which alter their beam pattern depending on road conditions, and throw their beam around corners, enhancing safety. In any case, the two LED strips, one for the daytime running lights and the other for the indicators, look the business and appear almost as classy as Audi’s Matrix system. Despite having leather seats and a mountain of technology to benefit from in an interior which is unquestionably an improvement over the previous Mondeo, the cheap feel of some surfaces and controls along with the rather rudimentary design and integration of the 8-inch screen ultimately let it down. Comfort, sheer space and decent ergonomics partly make up for this solid but rushed aura inside, and it’s still a pleasant place from which to munch zillions of miles.
Ford’s Mondeo, although not perhaps the most coveted of mid-priced family and business cars, has long been associated with crisp, engaging handling. The snag is, it no longer monopolises this characteristic and whereas the Mazda6 amazed and took me by surprise, the latest Mondeo simply impressed me. I guess it’s like unexpectedly enjoying a heatwave during a week’s holiday in Ambleside one October, then experiencing a week of mid-70s temperatures in Alicante the following July. You darn well expected the latter to be hot, but can’t help feel that in a relative sense, mid-70s in Blighty that late in the previous year was more memorable and special. Hydraulic steering has made way for electric in the 2015 Mondeo and although it’s undoubtedly light, perhaps too much so, the sharp change of direction and decent level of feedback mean that it’s not lost its touch, even if it now has a rival. The Mk5 Mondeo is certainly more engaging and sporty to drive than the Passat and Superb, that’s for sure. Staunch Mondeo Men need to be aware that the new car has been engineered for comfort, though – not athletic prowess. Even on 19” alloys and when tackling abominable surfaces, the ride was extremely pleasant, refined and assured, once again hinting at the Mondeo having mellowed slightly. Let’s face it; we all appreciate comfort and refinement, which, in the Mondeo, are enhanced by concerted efforts in the sound-proofing department. With Britain’s roads in no great shape and 50mph zones stretching across its length and breadth, maybe the new Mondeo’s decision to replace its Nikes with a pair of Riekers is actually an inspired move.
Prospective Mondeo buyers can choose from no less than fourteen powertrain combinations, EcoBoost petrol versions ranging from an uncanny 1-litre up to a 240PS 2-litre, and diesel options including 1.5-litre and 2-litre efforts in varying states of tune, along with three ECOnetic diesel variants and a 2-litre petrol-electric hybrid. By comparison, customers eyeing up a Volkswagen Passat are presented with a much smaller, diesel-only engine lineup. I drove a 2.0 Duratorq TDCi 6-speed Mondeo producing 150PS and 350Nm torque, with 0-62mph acceleration of 9.4 seconds, a top speed of 130mph and claimed combined fuel consumption of 62.8mpg. Perhaps one of its most important figures, though, is 119g/km on the CO2 emissions front, which is pretty impressive if not class-leading, with the Passat emitting an astonishing 107g, whilst the Mazda6 Tourer ends up a little red in the face with 129g. The Japanese offering, though, has a more powerful 2.2-litre diesel engine producing 175PS. Anyway, back to the Mondeo and I found the Duratorq engine a tad too vociferous at lower speeds for my liking, but it did settle down nicely on the open road, making it a great motorway cruiser. The gear ratios felt slightly too long, meaning I had to change gear fairly frequently, but the gearstick’s actual feel, though, was top notch. I would expect the majority of business drivers to be steered towards the 1.5-litre manual or the ECOnetic version as a 1.5 or 2-litre, but the interesting pick for private buyers, especially those who tow, is the 2.0-litre diesel with AWD and the Powershift transmission. My first day in the Mondeo estate saw me cover over 500 miles in it and average 55mpg after pushing it quite hard. Although I wasn’t intoxicated by any of its individual elements, I arrived home feeling fairly relaxed, the overall package generally proving very pleasing.
Antiques dealers should bear in mind that the new Mondeo estate’s boot isn’t actually the largest in the class. That crown goes to the Passat with 650/1,780 litres. The Mondeo estate’s capacity (525/1,630 litres) is actually 25 litres less than the hatchback’s when the seats are raised, its cargo bay is marred by a pronounced lip, and the curved sides further limit the resultant area available. Visibility during reversing isn’t brilliant, either. In its favour, though, the back seats fold more or less flat and although there’s no quick-release catch in the boot, the load area opened up should prove more than enough for most uses. Only nit-pickers will really notice the numerical differences between the Mondeo and its rivals.
Priced at £29,220 as tested, you’d be forgiven for perceiving the new Mondeo estate in Titanium trim as being somewhat expensive. Compare it to very similarly-specified alternatives, though, and it actually begins to look like good value, considering the amount of kit fitted as standard. The excellent ŠKODA Superb estate is indeed slightly cheaper, but all other rivals, including the brilliant Mazda6 Tourer and the largely forgotten Insignia Sports Tourer, tot up to around the £29,000 mark, too. The exception is the new Passat Estate, which is noticeably dearer at £35,000.
The Mk5 Mondeo estate is attractively styled and larger than ever externally, generously equipped, still as practical for most people and has mellowed successfully into a slightly more refinement-focussed motorway chariot and family load-lugger. I didn’t fall in love with it, but the Passat isn’t exactly Casanova’s female counterpart, either. On the whole, the new Mondeo has a lot going for it and should definitely be taken for a test drive if you’re contemplating a new car from this vibrant class.