BY STEVE WALKER
The forth instalment in Ford's Mondeo dynasty made its debut alongside Daniel Craig's James Bond in Casino Royale and was soon gaining rave reviews in the hands of the nation's roadtesters. Ford was confident that reports circulating at the time which hinted at the demise of the medium range family car were grossly exaggerated and in 2007, at the wheel of the Mondeo Mk4, few people would have argued with that. The car offered sheer size, quality and Ford's trademark engaging drive, qualities which are just as desirable on the used market.
Models Covered: 1.6, 2.0, 2.3, 2.5 petrol, 1.8, 2.0, 2.2 diesel [four-door saloon, five-door hatch and estate [Edge, Zetec, Titanium, Titanium X, Ghia, ECOnetic]
The very fact that a car was called Mondeo and had a blue oval badge on its grille used to be enough to guarantee big sales but by 2007 when the fourth generation model was launched, the market dynamic had shifted. Fleet and private buyers with Mondeo money to spend now had a vast array of alternatives at their disposal, including compact MPVs, compact 4x4s and premium brand hatchbacks. By comparison, the Mondeo and its medium range family car contemporaries were feeling a little staid. Ford's stalwart would have to work twice as hard keep pace and the monster sales figures of the past were all but out of reach. Despite what looked like a grim prognosis, the Mondeo MK4 rose to the challenge and set about reminding the public of why they used to love cars like this. This Mondeo arrived in the early part of 2007 sporting the 'Kinetic' design themes that Ford had been busily touting around motorshows for some years previously and which had already surfaced in showrooms on the S-MAX MPV. It would subsequently appear across the wider Ford model range over the coming years. The engine line-up was carried over from the Mk3 car in part, with Ford's 2.0-litre and 2.2-litre TDCi diesels taking centre stage and the 2.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine from the Focus ST providing strong performance at the top of the line-up. The entry-level engine was an advanced 1.6-litre Ti-VCT petrol multi-point injection unit with 109 or 123bhp. A full range of bodystyles was offered with saloon and hatchback versions that were tough to tell apart visually and an impressively roomy estate. Trim levels were familiar Ford stuff with Zetec, Ghia, Titanium and Titanium X but the Edge models formed the entry-point to the line-up. In mid 2008, the ECOnetic version was launched which used the 1.8 TDCi diesel engine and aerodynamic improvements to achieve over 53mpg. More changes were made to the range in 2010 with a 2.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine with 200bhp arriving at the top of the range and revised 2.0 TDCi diesels in the middle. The Ghia trim level was dropped and emissions were improved across the board.
What You Get
Take a seat inside the car and you'll notice high quality surfaces, materials and finishes. As with the outside, dynamic lines and styling curves are evident, plus the low profile instrument panel provides very generous cabin space for front seat occupants. The dashboard is clear and the major controls for the electronics systems largely intuitive, although the wood veneer finishes fitted to the Ghia models will have anybody under the age of 50 recoiling in horror and the Titanium overdoes the aluminium-effect plastic a little. The design team also paid great attention to interior detailing, and examples of this include clever infotainment systems, plus Ford's Human Machine Interface (HMI). This easy to use system features steering-wheel toggle switches which control the display on a large central LCD screen with full colour graphics situated between the main analogue instruments in front of the driver. Ford was clearly aiming at giving the Mondeo a more upmarket feel in line with the compact executive models from BMW and Audi. It ultimately falls short of those high standards but comes commendably close. Rear seat headroom and legroom are quite a revelation. The Mondeo is a seriously large car and it shares its size around to the benefit of all its occupants. The boot is also huge. Press the release and the tailgate of the hatchback model yawns open to leave you teetering on the precipice of a veritable pit of practicality. Family holidays, house moves or the weekend DIY blitz - the Mondeo will accommodate more stuff than you'd credit in any number of domestic situations. The estate is bigger and more practical still.
What You Pay
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What to Look For
In forth generation form, the Mondeo has established a decent reliability record. There have been glitches related to the keyless entry and start system so check that's working correctly and there have been issues with the 1.8-litre TDCi engine in early cars returning poor economy which can be fixed by an ECU tweak at a Ford dealer. The Mondeo seems generally well built and the engines have been used across the Ford range with no serious problems. Test drive when the engine is cold, walk round the car and smell for diesel, also listen for a rattle from the engine. If you can smell diesel it could be that the injector pipe is leaking. If the engine rattles, the flywheel almost certainly needs replacing. If you do find either of these problems, have the car examined by a specialist. Budget around £1,000 for injector pipe leaks, and to replace the flywheel around £550.
(approx prices for a 1.6 excl VAT) A front wing costs around £250 and a windscreen just under £150. Tyres are just under £90 and a complete exhaust system (including catalytic converter) would set you back about £500.
On the Road
The downside of all the space on the inside is that the Mondeo is a seriously big car outside, bigger than the old Ford Scorpio executive saloon. It feels substantial and extremely solid on the road but the sheer size becomes an issue in tight situations and when parking. Get the Mondeo out in the open and all this is forgotten. It shines brighter than any other medium range offering whether you're attacking a set of sweeping bends or a marathon motorway trip. The suspension is extremely well judged, giving the firmness and control you want for spirited driving but without crossing over into the harshness that makes mundane trips a chore. The car is a pleasure to use on longer journeys where wind and road noise are never intrusive and the engine idles away meekly in the background until called upon to deliver the goods. The 2.5-litre turbo engine will pique the interest of keen drivers and it can produce exhilarating pace. There's 217bhp on tap but it arrives in a measured fashion, making it much more usable in everyday situations than is the case in less advanced turbocharged cars. It's a performance engine, so there's always going to be a penalty in terms of fuel economy and the official combined economy figure of 30mpg might be a little optimistic if you drive it hard. The 2.2-litre diesel is a nice compromise between performance and economy with 173bhp and tonnes of torque. It can cover the 0-60mph sprint in 8.4s, only a second slower than the 2.5T, and will feel almost as quick as that car in the mid-range yet economy will be closer to 45mpg. The smaller engines are the ones that most used buyers are likely to encounter and both the 1.8 and 2.0-litre TDCi diesels make a sound choice. The ECOnetic Mondeo uses the 1.8-litre TDCi unit and is highly sought after for its economy and low emissions. Even the 1.6-litre petrol engine shouldn't be discounted. It's not quick even in 123bhp form but turns in adequate performance with economy in the high thirties.
The Mondeo is a superb vehicle in fourth generation guise, a consummate all-rounder with very few weak points. The interior quality isn't quite up with the compact executive models that Ford claimed to have benchmarked but it's pretty good by medium range standards and very well designed. Elsewhere, the driving experience is the finest in the sector, interior space is abundant and there are some first class engine options. As a new car, a shrinking market for medium family models prevented the Mondeo generating the sales it deserved but as a used buy, it's hard to award it anything but a resounding thumbs-up.