2015 Ford Mondeo Test Drive Review

2015 Ford Mondeo Test Drive Review

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Whilst not considered a mainstream offering in Malaysia, the Mondeo is a key product for Ford in Europe, often regarded by many as the D-segment’s default choice alongside the Volkswagen Passat. The nameplate found its way into our shores only as recently as the previous-generation model in 2009 with a naturally-aspirated 2.3-litre petrol engine, which was eventually replaced with Ford’s more potent 2.0-litre EcoBoost turbo.

The latest generation model is part of the bigger One Ford plan that sees the rationalization of Ford’s model line-up across the world. Previous cost-inefficient practices of developing unrelated region-specific models have been dropped, replaced by more competitive global models that seek to appeal to wider audiences. With this rationale, the Mondeo moves from its previous Euro-centric origins and merges with North America’s Fusion.

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Now one and the same vehicle, the Fusion sedan was launched for the North American region in 2012, but the Mondeo, which also offers hatchback and estate derivatives, had a slightly more troubled gestation. Closure of the Genk plant in Belgium, production hub of the previous Mondeo, had set back Ford’s launch plans as the Valencia plant in Spain was being readied to take on the task.

Now, nearly three years after its global debut as the Fusion, the all-new Ford Mondeo arrives in Malaysia. Like its predecessor, we don’t expect it blaze any trails on the sales charts, but does it retain or improve upon the dynamic qualities that we knew and loved from the previous model?

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Prices & Variants

As before, Ford offers only one variant of the Mondeo in Malaysia, and it comes highly-specced with a wide array of bells and whistles. There is a heavy price to pay for this, of course, and it comes in the form of a six-digit sum fronted by the number 2 at the bottom line of your invoice. It is a small step away from the BMW 316i at this point – a significantly less powerful alternative admittedly, but one that is enhanced by the intangible and difficult-to-beat allure of the propeller badge.

Ford will hope, however, that a comprehensive range of equipment will be adequate to tempt a few buyers away from German alternatives that inevitably offer less. Notably, the safety agenda is emphasized with seven airbags, electronic stability control, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, all-round parking sensors, and reverse camera being included in the manifest.

Ford also takes pride in its unique MyKey system, which you can use to keep your kids in check with more incessant seat belt reminders, speed limitations, and reduced distraction from its infotainment system. Integrated into the MyKey framework are the more familiar keyless entry and engine start features.

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The predecessor model’s EUCD platform served as the starting point in developing the new Mondeo, but sufficiently profound alterations have been made that Ford christens it with a new designation. Previously shared with various Land Rover and Volvo models whilst the two companies were still under Blue Oval ownership, the new CD4 architecture is now a Ford-only platform and will be shared with the next generation S-Max and Galaxy MPVs.

Most significant technical alteration to the underpinnings is a switch from Ford’s patented Control Blade rear suspension to a new integral link set up that is claimed to give the Mondeo a closer approximation to the hushness and sophistication achieved by premium models which Ford hopes to pinch a few sales from.

A wider array of petrol and diesel powertrains are on offer overseas, but the 2.0-litre EcoBoost powertrain carried over from the predecessor model for Malaysia’s only variant of the new Mondeo is assuredly the most potent engine of the line-up, punching out 237hp and 345Nm dropped to the front wheels by a 6-speed automatic transmission replacing the previous model’s dual clutch unit. A 158hp 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol mill is also in existence, but Ford does not see a strong business case for this variant in our market.

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Whilst the previous Mondeo had a bit of awkward shape, particularly when viewed from its rear three-quarter, it is difficult the argue that the new one isn’t a significantly more successful styling effort. From most angles, it is still recognizably a Mondeo, but with better-resolved proportions and bolder styling.

The gaping front grille, often attributed as an Aston Martin-inspired styling cue which Ford vehemently objects, is far more effectively applied here where it is styled onto the sheet metal from the onset as opposed to say, the Fiesta, in which it was grafted on as a midlife facelift. Narrow-slit headlamp clusters house adaptive LED headlamps with integrated daytime running lights.

Its rear adopts an evolutionary progression from the outgoing model, its LED-illuminated tail lights notably reminiscent. Subtly designers have sought to give added emphasis of the vehicle’s weight, visually stretching it sideways to reduce the lankiness that was characteristic of the predecessor’s appearance.

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Successful enough were the designers’ efforts that it surprised us to find that the Mondeo’s width is actually reduced, from 1,886mm of the previous model to just 1,852mm. It has also reduced in height, dropping from 1,500mm to 1,486mm. Space between the axles remain unchanged at 2,850mm, but the car now stretches the tape measure longer at 4,871mm as opposed to 4,850mm previously.

In a time where many upper D-segment push their wheel diameters to 18 or 19 inches, Ford’s selection of 17-inch rollers for the Mondeo is surprisingly conservative. We don’t take issue with this – it’s a sensible specification with simultaneous benefits to fuel economy, ride comfort, and tyre replacement costs, with reduced visual appeal being the price to pay.

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Sneak peeks of the upcoming Passat B8’s interior suggest that Volkswagen will be setting the segment’s cabin quality benchmarks in the years to come, but Ford’s efforts in the Mondeo has yielded an interior that whilst not nearly as outstanding as VW’s effort, certainly offers us very few bones to pick. If we must find something to criticize, we would simply say that selection of materials do not exude the plushness we would expect of a cabin costing north of RM200k.

Ergonomically, it is largely faultless, unlike the cluttered layouts seen in models such as the Fiesta, Focus, and Kuga, Ford has trimmed the number of buttons deployed on the Mondeo’s dashboard making it comparatively easier to operate. The large touchscreen offers one of the more intuitive user interfaces in the market, and we particularly like the four-quardrant home screen which allows simultaneous access to Bluetooth connectivity, compass, audio, and climate control, saving us the trouble of browsing through fiddly manuals.

We also like the abundance of open storage space along the centre console, consisting of a pair of deep cupholders aft of the gear lever and wide trays laid out beneath the centre stack; convenient avenues for us to empty our pockets into. If you need to keep things hidden from prying eyes, the glove box offers double layer storage, as does the centre console box between the two front occupant seats.

Driving Experience

The Mondeo may not have the sales volume to match its rivals, but one thing we can all agree about is that it just about offered the most satisfying and engaging driving experience you could possibly get from a four-door sedan this side of a BMW 3 Series. Such is the high benchmark that was set by the predecessor, the new model has a very tough dynamic act to follow.

Indeed, in many areas, Ford has successfully moved the game with genuine improvement that keeps the new Mondeo at the segment’s pointed end as far as the driving experience is concerned. Most notably, the new car feels impressively hushed on the move, its suspension skillfully rendering all surface disturbances inert and all sources of noise generally well-masked. As before, the Mondeo’s chassis feels thoroughly well-honed to feel at home over a wide range of applications – be it covering lengthy miles on the PLUS highway or negotiating bad patches of road on the way home.

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Yet, for all the quantifiable improvements made to its dynamics, there is also a sense that the new Mondeo feels less engaging and more detached than its thoroughly enjoyable predecessor. Whilst it is understandable that the switch from the previous electro-hydraulic power steering to a fully electric rack will unavoidably rob the new car of some chatter, the fact that much of the previous Mondeo’s dynamic appeal centred around an almost-telepathic connection between driver vehicle as much as the outright abilities of its chassis make it difficult not to miss that sparkle it used to have. With the new model, a largely similar set of abilities remain, but delivered in a colder, more detached fashion.

Armed with enough outputs to match a BMW 328i, the Mondeo is capable of delivering seriously rapid progress. Its new 6-speed torque converter transmission swaps some of the snappiness of the predecessor’s dual clutch ‘box for more seamless transitions between gears. For most drivers, the trade-off is worthwhile for the sake of improved low-speed smoothness and overall reliability. If there was impact in terms of usable day-to-day performance, we certainly didn’t feel it.

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Even when prices were close enough to the RM170k-RM180k ball park of mainstream D-segment models, the Mondeo never managed to sell in any decent numbers to Malaysian customers; at its current price, it is even less likely to do so.

The proximity of its pricing to premium sedan territory mean that buying the Mondeo is no longer a matter of choosing it over a Camry or Accord, but persuading the prospective buyer that it is a proper alternative to, say, a BMW 3 Series or Volvo S60, which shares underpinnings with the previous Mondeo, by the way.

Although conceived as a mainstream vehicle, the Mondeo’s disadvantageous pricing sees to its destiny of being a niche player in our market. It is a fine niche player, however, and whilst many will find difficulties in justifying Ford’s asking price, those who somehow managed to, will find themselves in possession of a thoroughly enjoyable vehicle to drive.

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Review overview
Exterior Design
Mechanical Specs
Features and Amenities
Ride & Handling
Value for Money


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