Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
Diesel may be getting a lot of bad press at the moment but, if you're in the market for a Mondeo, it still makes a lot of sense. We reckon the incredibly low CO2-emitting 1.5 TDCi is the pick; performance is adequate and this engine averaged a remarkable 53.7mpg in our real-world True MPG tests.
There’s also a 2.0-litre diesel that’s available in a range of power outputs. The 148bhp version (badged TDCi 150) is satisfyingly punchy and flexible, and doesn’t feel much slower than the 177bhp (2.0 TDCi 180) option. The 148bhp unit is also available in Econetic form, which has slightly different gearing to help lower its CO2 emissions, but doesn’t feel very different from the standard version to drive. And if you really want your Mondeo to punch above its weight – and, let’s not forget, this is a very heavy car – then the 207bhp twin-turbo that comes standard with an automatic gearbox will give you all the performance you need.
If you don't do the miles to justify a diesel, there are three turbocharged petrol engines: a three-cylinder 1.0 with 123bhp, a 1.5 with 158bhp and a 2.0 with 236bhp. Of these, we'd recommend the punchy 1.5; the 1.0 is a bit sluggish and the 2.0 is too pricey and inefficient.
Finally, there's a hybrid version that's only available in saloon (rather than hatchback) form. Despite its low CO2 emissions of 92g/km, this version of the Mondeo is best avoided because performance is mediocre and its petrol engine and electric motor struggle to work smoothly together.
Suspension and ride comfort
Unlike the Skoda Superb and more expensive executive rivals such as the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series, the Mondeo isn’t offered with adaptive dampers. Instead, you get conventional suspension that does a good job regardless of the road surface – particularly if you opt for a version with smaller alloy wheels. The suspension soaks up big bumps and small ruts alike, leaving you well isolated from the road surface beneath.
ST-Line models are equipped with sports suspension and chunky 19in wheels, so they don't ride nearly as well. Likewise, the range-topping Vignale model also rides on 19in wheels so isn't as comfortable as cheaper versions.
The Mondeo handles really well for such a big car; it feels agile, turning in to corners eagerly and staying planted and upright through tight twists and turns. It also feels very stable at high speeds – a good thing given the high number of motorway miles that Mondeo drivers tend to rack up.
It’s also worth noting that the Mondeo benefits from this wieldy handling without the aid of any pricey optional adaptive dampers, which the 3 Series and Volkswagen Passat both need to really shine.
It’s just a shame that the steering, while precise in its responses, is a bit light at times and too keen to self-centre at others, so it doesn’t give you a great sense of how well the tyres are gripping the road.
Noise and vibration
All the diesel engines are quiet, but the 2.0 ones are particularly hushed, with only muted grumble at low revs that quickly fades to a distant hum when cruising on the motorway. Little vibration makes it through to the steering wheel and pedals, either.
Even though there’ll often be times when you’ll need to work it that much harder, at a cruise the 1.5 petrol engine is even more refined. There’s minimal wind noise, although road noise is noticeable at high speed. The six-speed manual gearbox has a light and precise – if fairly long – shift action and, although you do get the occasional shunt from the automatic gearbox, it’s generally a smooth operator.
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