As a motoring hack — or, indeed, a critic of any kind — it is always a tad worrying when you are complimented for being too kind to any given subject. In my case, it gets very worrying indeed when car company executives pally-up to tell you that you’ve really been too kind to their brand in recent times.
A case in point might be Ford, which has impressed me greatly in the past decade or so for producing a variety of machines which have, largely, been class-leaders. This has consequently been the subject of much complimentary praise from this quarter. It has not always been thus, of course.
I recall an incident many years ago when the boss of Ford Ireland was so incensed by my having called one version of the company’s Granada model “a heap” that he wrote a virulent letter of protest to my chief executive railing against my strident opinions. Thankfully for me, my boss, while warning me to be a bit more diplomatic in future, responded by reaffirming my right to reasonable subjective criticism.
Perhaps, though, my words and those of many others like me actually distilled through that corporate brains trust to the point where the company’s bosses realised that popularity did not always equal brilliance in terms of its cars’ designs. And it was just as well that sea-change occurred, because if it had not, then Ford might not be with us today.
If such an outcome seems preposterous then just think back a few years when each one of the ‘Big Three’ in America — Ford, GM, and Chrysler — nearly all went broke. As it transpired, Ford and GM survived by the skin of their corporate teeth, while Chrysler ultimately went under, only to be saved by — of all people — Fiat. Since then we have witnessed a particular resurgence in Ford’s global fortunes. No longer was it good enough to build the same old garbage while dressing it up in a new gown every now and then.
The successes achieved in Europe by the likes of Fiesta, Focus, Mondeo, C-Max, S-Max, and the like revealed to the Ford hierarchy that by actually making good products, the company’s fortunes rose accordingly. It also kept the critics happy too.
The recent arrival of the new Mondeo was, therefore, a decent opportunity to examine if Ford had kept its’ eye on the ball or slipped back into bad old habits. We know, of course, the car should have been with us two years ago, but because of the transfer of production from Gent in Belgium to Valencia in Spain, valuable time was soaked up and lost to Ford.
The company maintains it used this time wisely to imbue the car with all sorts of new technologies, not to mention upgrading production techniques and manufacturing processes, as well as utilising new engines. And, on the evidence we have seen recently while driving the Mondeo Titanium with the new 1.5 EcoBoost petrol engine, it appears Ford has not been telling porkies.
We all know the car to have been a consistent front-runner in the repmobile/family car D segment for many years. The foundations for its success were laid on a combination of excellent petrol and diesel engines, eye-catching design, spaciousness, comfort, and decent kit levels. Indeed, only the VW Passat really ever held a torch to it, although such as the Toyota Avensis, Skoda Octavia, the Mazda 6 and the Hyundai i40 tried hard.
Given the car’s previous then, it would be hard to quibble with Ford were they to have taken a conservative route with the new model, but they have thrown a lot of new stuff at the car and, while it may still be a mile-muncher of a high order, it has also been further imbued with a variety of technologies, safety items, and passenger cosseting refinement.
The Mondeo now looks and feels bigger, and has a greater premium feel about it than ever before, which is probably just as well given how much pressure the segment is under from the crossover/SUV mob. And it is as good to drive as it should be; although I’ve yet to drive the new Passat, I suspect the Ford is still king of the hill in the class in this department.
One thing that intrigued me though, was how good the 1.5-litre petrol engine would be and if it would have the necessary grunt to cope with Irish conditions. Having driven it in Spain at the European launch, I was reasonably confident it would perform to the required standard, but you never know.
With an output of 117kW (158 bhp) it is certainly not lacking on the motivation front, but the long gearing in the six speed box may well try the patience of some more demanding souls. With the trend towards small capacity petrol turbo engines increasing, this is a sign of things to come and it is a good sign. With a top speed of 222km/h and a 9.2 second 0-100km/h time, it will fit comfortably into most people’s expectations, while the 5.8 l/100km consumption rate shouldn’t disappoint either.
Some maintain the new Mondeo has lost some of the handling sparkle which characterised the last model, but I think that’s piffle, and feel that the more premium feel of everything about the new machine overrides any criticism in this regard.
If it is the case that executive are disappointed by another good review, then they will have to report back to HQ that this is one critic who has been firmly won over. Unless, of course, they start making crap cars again.
€28,995 (€32,470 as tested).
The new generation small capacity petrol unit does not disappoint.
Stuff like the lane-change warning is a bit unnecessary, but the SYNC system and 8” touchscreen will find favour with many.
The Overall Verdict:
Another class-leader from Ford.
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