|Engine:||2.0-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder Ecoboost, 177kW at 5300rpm/345Nm between 2300-4900rpm|
|Fuel Economy:||Claimed 8.5 litres/100km|
|Equipment:||One of the best equipped on the road|
|Safety:||Five-star crash rating|
|Factory Warranty:||Three years/100,000km|
The fourth-generation Ford Mondeo seemed to sneak into New Zealand under the radar last year.
One minute it was still on its way, the next it was here and had been for a few months. There was no fanfare, no Ford town crier hailing its arrival.
Ford NZ said it couldn’t get every Mondeo model together at once, hence the low-key launch.
But it clearly didn’t want to deflect too much attention away from the sales success of the Ranger light truck – that’s Ford’s money tree in New Zealand.
Ford also talked up incoming SUVs like the Ranger-based Everest, another in a money-go-round segment. Then of course there was the hoopla over the Mustang.
The Mondeo sort of came and went into Ford’s dealer network. Ford therefore did it a disservice, particularly our test car, the premium Titanium station wagon (top).
Okay, buyers might be deserting front-drive, car-based wagons for front- and four-wheel-drive SUVs, but the wagons have many inherent advantages over higher-riding SUVs. For one thing, they are a hell of a lot better to drive; easier to place on the road.
The Mondeo Titanium wagon isn’t going to change the minds of those who think they need an SUV, but an hour or two behind the wheel would keep them guessing.
The new model is the first Mondeo to get electric power-assisted steering, which works with three adaptive suspension settings: Comfort, Normal, Sport. It works well, too, although Sport mode can be a hardish bouncy castle on broken suburban surfaces.
Steering is not as sharp as previous Mondeos, but it remains accurate and well weighted. The car has oodles of kit, including rear seatbelt airbags among the passive and active safety gizmos that earned it a maximum five-star crash rating.
It looks good, rides and handles well on its McPherson strut front and integral link (new to Mondeo) set-up in the rear, has ample room everywhere, and is hushed and effortless on the move.
The boot mightn’t be as big as that in the Volkswagen Passat, but it will swallow pretty much everything a nuclear family needs.
Its turbocharged 2.0-litre Ecoboost engine is a strong unit, helped by a six-speed automatic gearbox that capitalises on the flexible spread of torque to move the car’s 1600kg.
Ford claims a combined city and country fuel use of 8.5 litres/100km (33mpg). On the open road, progress in mostly the taller fifth and sixth gears enabled a best of around 8 litres/100km (35mpg). But city and suburban travel in lower gears took a toll on the tank. We got a constant 10-11 litres/100km (28-25mpg).
The big change inside is that the ugly cluster-bunch of controls in the centre stack has gone. The layout was corporate and clumsy, a plague on the house of Ford.
The fascia is now unclutted and functional, helped by a 20cm touchscreen that controls the SYNC2 internet system, voice recognition, satellite-navigation, and Bluetooth, among other devices.
In a nutshell, the Mondeo Titanium wagon is a damn good car.