First drive: Ford's top diesel Mondeo

* New 2.2-litre diesel reviewed * Only just pipped by 2.5-litre turbo * Not without faults, though...

05 June 2008

First drive: Ford's top diesel Mondeo

Are you torn between the 'cheaper' fuel and revvy performance of a petrol car, and the strong mid-range pull and fuel efficiency of a diesel?

Ford may have the solution with its all-new 2.2-litre diesel engine.

With 173bhp and a thumping 295lb ft of pulling power, the new engine will prepel a full-fat Mondeo - it's available only in the two top-trim cars - to 60mph in just 8.7sec.

That's only just over a second slower than the all-singing 2.5-litre turbo petrol car.

What's more, the diesel will return 45.5mpg, while the petrol struggles to better 30mpg.

Throw in the advantage of a 24% company car tax banding compared with 33% for the petrol car, as well as significantly stronger resale values, it's still a no-brainer in favour of the diesel - even given the wildly escalating price of diesel fuel.

Not everything is sweetness and light, though.

In any trim, the Mondeo is the most complete family car on the market, but high gearing means that the big diesel isn't as flexible as it should be.

Sure, it's smooth, and, if you stir the sweet-changing six-speed gearbox and boot the throttle, there's bags of overtaking shove, but here's the rub - at less than 50mph, you'll struggle to make top gear, so inevitably you end up down-changing all too frequently.

Also, because the engine likes to rev, you lose some of the low-down easy-driving characteristics of diesel power when you're just plodding around town.

To go with the latest engine, there's also a new trim, called Titanium X Sport.

It'll give you bi-xenon headlights, sports suspension, leather seats with contrasting red stitching, piano-black dashboard inlays and 18-inch alloy wheels over the already sumptuously equipped Titanium X.

• The Mondeo 2.2 TDCI is on sale now from £23,855.