Another fine chassis, but that on its own is no longer enough
When the history of the Ford Motor Company is written, the year 1993 will stand alongside 1908 (introduction of the Model T) and 1966 (winning
Le Mans at the third time of asking) as a date of monumental significance to the Blue Oval. This was the year in which Ford introduced the first Mondeo, but that alone would never make the date so significant. It wasn’t the Mondeo that mattered so much, as the change in attitude its class-leading abilities reflected: this was the year that, in Europe at least, Ford decided to stop building rubbish cars.
Goodness knows there’d been enough of them, from most Sierras to almost all Escorts of the era and no small number of Fiestas, too. But then came the Mondeo, then the Focus and a series of Fiestas that have led their class ever since. And this all-new Mondeo would like you to think it is as good today as was the original some 22 years ago.
But it’s not. In fact it’s not even close. Actually it’s not even all-new. This Mondeo was first shown as the Ford Fusion as the Detroit show in January 2012, but thanks to restructuring of priorities and the closure of the plant that was to build it, it has taken fully three years to make it to market.
I found it a car of curiously mixed abilities, certainly in the 1.5-litre Ecoboost estate form I was able to sample. On the positive side there’s no doubting that Ford’s chassis engineers have once more struck a wonderful balance between ride and handling. Also, while the 158bhp petrol engine is not likely to be a big seller in the UK, it’s smooth, frugal and responsive beyond what you’d expect from such a small unit in so large a car.
But unlike the original Mondeo, which was hard to criticise, there is no shortage of features I would change on its descendant. The dashboard, for instance, is a mess with ugly instruments and information that’s unattractively presented and can be difficult to access. Ford has also chosen to cut the size of the estate’s boot for no good reason I can fathom, abandoning a key USP of its predecessor. But its greatest failing is its new electric steering – it’s no good having a fine chassis if the steering guiding it is so lacking in feel that you become disinclined to press on.
I look forward to trying some other Mondeos – a diesel hatchback might be a very different proposition – but on evidence supplied so far the new Mondeo advances its cause little, if at all.
Engine: 1.5 litres, 4 cylinders, turbocharged
Power: [email protected]
Torque: 177lb [email protected] rpm
Transmission: six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Top speed: 135mph