Slicker, sportier, more muscular, the fourth generation Ford Mondeo targets the premium sector in features and options, finds Adrian Ion
Every marketing strategy is now focused on providing ever more demanding products which can be personalised to satisfy a need or create the illusion of satisfying a need.
Cars are the type of product that constantly evolve to improve comfort, luxury and personal vanity with new additions that may or may not be essential, but sound great in a promotional campaign. Car companies then spend millions convincing you that a new car is better than the one you bought three years ago and the barometer of your success will plummet if you do not drive the latest model.
The battalion of marketers will tell you how safe the driver is in the new model, how the air conditioning controls the humidity and how every passenger will be able to create his own micro climate inside the machine. Usually a new model will bring extra safety and better road handling compared to its previous incarnations. The story can go on forever - and you have heard it all before - the last time you bought a car.
Therefore the dilemma car manufactures face is to provide a better vehicle, with modern lines and flashy interiors that makes the previous model look dull – but doesn’t make the consumer feel stupid for once buying the old version.
I test drove the fourth generation of the Ford Mondeo, which is the result of a 715 million Euro investment, looking to find out the real benefits of the new model. This is a version in which the Ford Motor Company hopes to outplay its competition in the family car bracket. To achieve this, Ford has repositioned the new Mondeo in the premium segment, not in price, but in features and options.
The new Mondeo is a kinetic design baby, which follows the same straight and muscular design features present in other Ford models. The pronounced curve of the roof line and the exaggerated wheel arches brilliantly disguise the size of this car, making it look slick and sporty, compared to the boxy shape of the old model. Meanwhile, the ride and handling is generally excellent.
There are four petrol engines available from 1.6 to 2.5 litres and two diesel choices of 1.8 and 2.0 litre. Ford will add new engines later. Out of those, the 1.6 - 110 hp petrol engine is the only one that disappoints, as the driver needs to push really hard to get a response. On the other hand, the 1.8 diesel, which has less horse power (100), feels alive and the most comfortable to drive. This is my choice of engine as it combines a more than decent average fuel consumption of just 5.7 litres with low purchase value and decent performance. The 220 hp petrol engine is for those who, on occasion, enjoy the push of adrenaline.
Mondeo Fourth Generation
Engine: three petrol from 110 to 220 HP and two diesel of 1.8 litre and 2 litre
Transmission: six speed manual or six speed automatic Durashift
Price: starting from 15,590 Euro for the Ambiente version to 20,230 Euro without VAT for the Titanium X version
Technology: Bluetooth-hands free with voice control, adaptive cruise control, ‘Follow me home’ headlights, run flat tyres.
Suitable for: People with high expectations from a reasonably-priced ca
Compared to the old model, the styling is bolder and sportier, the car bigger and it has a plus in quality and refinement. The attention Ford puts into gadgets is impressive. These include the EasyFuel cap less tank orifice, which prevents drivers from choosing the wrong fuel, petrol or diesel for the car. The specification, even at the lowest level in the range, offers air-conditioning and ESP as standard and six airbags – promising decent levels of safety on all models.
The list of fittings and options never seems to end, but the Mondeo does have a wide audience to serve. One feature marketed as a big plus of the new Mondeo is its innovative laser welding technique that makes the chassis more rigid than in the old model.
The new Mondeo has enormous interiors. Both wider and longer than before, the extra shoulder space will be appreciated by front-seat passengers, while those in the back should be more than comfortable with the added legroom. Boot volume is also more than generous. The dashboard is a soft touch and similar to rubber. Absolutely nothing creaks or rattles and, from air vents to seat design, the ambience created is premium, except for some little things such as the lower door trim plastic - far nastier than the rest of the cabin.
There are also stacks of equipment and options that seem to belong in a much higher grade of vehicle. Standard steering-wheel controlled ‘Human Machine Interface’ with fancy colour graphics on top-end models, optional adaptive cruise control, and voice activation are notable examples. Where the Mondeo aims to impress, it does. But as the Ford Motor Company veers into the red, this new Mondeo needs to be good as is gets for Ford.