Ford Mondeo 2.2 TDCi 200 driven
* 197bhp diesel engine * From £24,105 * On sale now...
What is it?
The most powerful diesel-powered Mondeo ever. The new 2.2-litre engine is available in higher-spec models, with a six-speed manual or automatic gearbox.
What's it like to drive?
It was only a couple of years ago that the best hot hatches pushed out around 200bhp. Now, the same output is available from a diesel Ford Mondeo. Sounds tempting, doesn't it? Especially when the 2.2 TDCi's hot hatch power is combined with a very un-hot-hatch-like 47.1mpg.
The reality is somewhat different. Firstly, the performance isn't nearly as electrifying as it sounds.
There's a reasonably strong surge of acceleration when the turbo kicks in at 1500rpm, but it never feels as strong as the numbers suggest. In fact, the 161bhp 2.0-litre diesel Mondeo doesn't feel a whole lot slower, and neither, for that matter, does the 138bhp version. That's when the 2.2-litre is on song, too it feels surprisingly slovenly if you get caught below 1500rpm, so it's not as flexible as it should be.
The 2.2-litre isn't as refined as Ford's smaller diesels, either - it sounds and feels a little rattly by comparison. By anyone else's standards, though, the engine is still impressively smooth and quiet.
Plus, you still get the Mondeo's sublime mixture of comfort and control. The ride is soothing enough to comfortably cope with long motorway trips, while the strong grip, sharp body control and alert, communicative steering mean you'll also have fun when the road turns twisty.
What's it like inside?
One word describes the Mondeo's cabin: huge. All five seats are surrounded by more space than their occupants will ever need, and the boot is massive. There are no worries on practicality, then.
There's not a lot to worry about on the quality score, either. The switches work with slick precision, and most of the materials look and feel pretty posh. The plastics get a little hard and grainy in one or two places, but they still feel impressively solid.
The driver is also treated to a good driving position with plenty of adjustment, and a well-ordered, easy-to-use dashboard.
Should I buy one?
Not when Ford's 2.0-litre diesels are so good. Yes, the 2.2 TDCi is a good car, but the smaller engines provide all the pace and flexibility you'll ever need, plus they're more refined and more efficient. Take the 161bhp version - it gives you 6.2mpg more than the 2.2, and is 20g/km better on CO2 emissions. That'll make a huge financial difference to high-mileage company car drivers.
Private buyers will also benefit from the smaller engine's superior fuel economy, also the fact that it's far lot cheaper to buy. It can be had in mid-range Zetec form, which means prices start at £21,200. The 2.2 can be had only in Titanium trim and upwards, so prices start at a whopping £24,105.