2013 Ford Mondeo Graphite review
* New cheaper Mondeo driven in UK * Targets latest Skoda Octavia * On sale now, priced from 15,995...
The 2013 Ford Mondeo has to keep the famous name selling for at least another 18 months, because plans to replace it with an all-new version (developed alongside an American line-up) have been delayed... then delayed again.
To compensate for this, Ford is simplifying the range, improving the efficiency of some engines and introducing a new entry-level trim, called Graphite.
It's meant to appeal to staple Mondeo buyers, featuring many of the model's most popular standard items, including air-conditioning, a heated windscreen, electric windows and mirrors, 17-inch alloy wheels, body-coloured bumpers, door handles and mirrors, and a rear spoiler.
The most important point about the Graphite, though, is its price. Choose the cheapest petrol version and it can be yours for just 15,995 a price which undercuts many small family cars, let alone anything of the Mondeo's size.
Even the more sensible 1.6-litre turbodiesel version we're testing here in effect a re-aligned version of our 2013 Family Car of the Year costs from 18,195. It has 112bhp and returns CO2 emissions of 112g/km, yet is more than 3500 cheaper than the most basic diesel Mazda 6 (which has considerably more power, admittedly).
It also costs within 100 of Skoda's new Octavia 1.6 TDI S a car, we suspect, had a lot to do with Ford's decision to price the Graphite so aggressively.
What's the 2013 Ford Mondeo Graphite 1.6 TDCi like to drive?
The 1.6-litre diesel has been our pick of the Mondeo's engines ever since it arrived, and it's easy to see why. It has enough performance, with solid amounts of torque kicking in at around 1500rpm.
It's also a refined cruising companion, pulling only around 2000rpm at 70mph. In fact, you're more likely to be troubled by road noise on more abrasive surfaces.
The rest of the package is strong, too, with a comfortable ride, good body control, a positive gearshift and beautifully direct, perfectly weighted steering.
Few cars, in any class, are as enjoyable to drive on a fast, flowing road that remains an astounding achievement for a family car.
What's the 2013 Ford Mondeo Graphite 1.6 TDCi like inside?
You won't find many surprises inside the Mondeo Graphite which is to say that the big Ford's well-proven combination of lots of space and a smart interior are still present and correct.
The cabin has enough room for five adults, and the 528-litre boot of this hatchback version is big enough to cope with all of their luggage.
Fold down the rear seats and that capacity rises to 1448 litres. These figures are among the best in class.
The dashboard is made mostly of soft-touch materials, and the easy-to-use stereo system benefits from being a Ford unit; some of the Sony set-ups you get in higher-end models are fiddly to use.
That said, there's no disguising the fact that the Mondeo is starting to show its age. The fit and finish are solid enough, but the design looks a little dated. A Skoda Octavia is much more modern inside.
The standard equipment list includes all of the essentials air-con, electric windows and electric mirrors. However, it's a little odd that on such a motorway stalwart, cruise control wasn't high enough up the 'want list' to make the cut; it's only an option, at 200.
Parking sensors are another strange omission on such a large vehicle; they'll set you back 400.
Should I buy one?
The Mondeo Graphite 1.6 TDCi is easy to recommend, with strong performance, a spacious cabin, a reasonable amount of standard equipment and a very aggressive price.
It's worth remembering, though, that the 2.0 TDCi Graphite costs exactly the same, and the range revisions have lowered that model's CO2 emissions to 119g/km, so it's only one company car tax band more expensive. Given its extra performance, we think the larger engine is now a better bet.
The Octavia is a strong challenger, too. Its 1.6 diesel model emits just 99g/km of CO2, placing it three company car tax bands lower than the 1.6 Mondeo, and the Skoda's cabin is far more polished.
Ford's offering has more than enough appeal at this new price to remain a terrific choice for someone after a big family car but it is no longer the default choice.