Our favourite engine is the 1.6 diesel. Most drivers will find it fast and flexible enough, so unless you want some real thrust in your life, there’s no point going for the strong, smooth 2.0-litre diesels (138bhp or 161bhp). Avoid the 197bhp 2.2 diesel, which feels disappointingly flat. If you must have a petrol engine, go for the 1.6-litre Ecoboost turbo: it’s sweet and feels well suited to the car. The 2.0-litre Ecoboosts will give many hot hatches a fright.
The Mondeo is all things to all people: it feels perfectly at ease on the motorway, while the supple and immaculately controlled suspension means the ride is silky smooth regardless of the road surface or how many people are on board. To cap it all, the Mondeo is exceptionally agile for such a large car, and keen drivers will love its sharp handling, strong grip and responsive steering.
Only the merest flutter of wind noise is noticeable at 70mph, and although some road noise intrudes on coarse surfaces, it’s never a major annoyance. Engine refinement is equally impressive, as is the weighting of the controls: from the snick of the wiper stalk to the flow of the gearshift, the Mondeo has a precision that few, if any, rivals can match.
On the face of it, the Mondeo looks no more than reasonable value compared with its rivals. Then you factor in the big discounts available, and things look more encouraging. The downside comes when you have to sell your Mondeo on, because residual values aren’t particularly strong. Contract hire rates are competitive, though, and the diesel models keep company car tax bills low.
The Mondeo's interior features a soft-touch covering for the top of the dashboard and high-gloss coatings on the centre console. There are modern instrument graphics, too, and all the switchgear operates with slick precision. Some of the plastics in the lower reaches of the cabin have a rather hard, grainy texture, but they're solid.
The days when you could get into a Ford with a bent coat hanger are long gone, and the Mondeo is one of the most secure cars you can buy. Safety is also right up with the best, with crash- and pedestrian safety very much a driving force in the Mondeo's overall design. All models come with electronic stability control and seven airbags, including one for the driver's knees.
The first thing that strikes you when you slide behind the wheel is just how big this car is. The bottoms of the windows are quite high, so you have to sit with the seat cranked up, and even then it's not easy to judge the extremities of the car. Fortunately, the seat is supportive and has masses of adjustment. The rest of your surroundings look and feel sophisticated.
Short of supplying every buyer with the keys to their own bus, it’s hard to see how Ford could have improved on the Mondeo’s passenger space. There’s loads of room up front, as well as enough space in the back for the All Blacks’ front row. Getting in and out couldn’t be easier, either, thanks to the wide-opening doors. If we have one criticism, it’s that the high window-line means that young children will struggle to see out, but the boot is big enough to cope with any family’s luggage.
Ford hasn't skimped on equipment on the Mondeo. All models come with electronic stability control, seven airbags, air-conditioning, cruise control, four electric windows, a heated windscreen and a CD player with MP3 connectivity. There are several other trims beyond the entry-level one, all with varying amounts of luxury equipment, as well as a host of options including lane departure- and blind-spot-warning systems.
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With the pick of the engine range matched to our favourite trim, the Ford Mondeo 1.6 TDCi 115 Eco Zetec S/S is our favourite Mondeo. With sensational efficiency, it's our Green Family Car of the Year 2011.