When buying a new car, a moment’s hesitation can turn into a serious dilemma.
For example, you’re just about to sign on the dotted line for a brand-new Ford Mondeo, one of the most popular and capacious of all executive cars, when word reaches you that for the same price you could buy a barely used BMW 3 Series, the car that has been so consistently ahead of its field that it’s actually come to define the class.
Both cars do a similar job of dismissing motorway journeys with ease, as well as handling impractical loads and unknown roads with disdain, and both have deeply impressive on-paper economy, but which one makes more sense for you – the wonderfully spacious Ford or the temptingly classy BMW?
Read on as we pick our favourite versions of both cars and then compare new versus used.
Ford Mondeo 1.5 TDCi 120 Zetec List Price: £21,395 Target price: £19,938 Official fuel economy: 78.5mpg Emissions: 94g/km CO2 Power: 118bhp 0-62mph: 11.7sec Top speed: 119mph
BMW 320d SE Price new: £31,720 Price today: £19,995 Official fuel economy: 67.3mpg Emissions: 111g/km CO2 Power: 188bhp 0-62mph: 7.3sec Top speed: 146mph
Price today is based on a 2016 model with average mileage and a full service history
New Ford Mondeo vs used BMW 3 Series – styling
Throughout its many generations, the Ford Mondeo has always been a rather good-looking car, as well as a very spacious one. Its silhouette benefits from a long wheelbase contained within a lengthy body, and a relatively low roofline only adds to the sleek impression. There is just a hint that this latest generation carries a little more of the world car principle than is good for it, hailing as it does from across the Atlantic, and the general consensus is it’s lost a little of the charm, especially when viewing it from the front or rear, of previous versions.
Countered against that, the BMW is very much its own man, and each generation of the 3 Series has got progressively bigger over the years, despite which this latest version looks leaner, cleaner and much sportier. It’s a curious mix of aggression and delicacy, and it works. This sporty look is enhanced by a low and wide grille, and a sleek rear end. Above all, it looks classy and well proportioned, and fit for purpose.
New Ford Mondeo vs used BMW 3 Series – driving
Any fears about the Mondeo having lost some of its driving dynamism, a quality for which it’s always been held in the highest regard, are soon dismissed when you get behind the wheel. Once again, it might not be quite as impressive as the model it replaced, but it’s still very good to drive, with a smooth and responsive 1.5-litre diesel under the bonnet of our chosen variant, and a sophisticated chassis that endows it with eager handling and a comfortable ride.
The BMW 3 Series has largely achieved that position of class-defining leadership by virtue of its stunning dynamics, and that holds true for this latest model. In our favourite 320d trim, it’s great to drive, with a strong and powerful diesel engine that offers up truly impressive Mondeo-bashing performance – think 0 to 62mph in 7.3secs, and a top speed of 146mph. It handles beautifully, with a rear-wheel drive chassis that gives the Beemer tremendous balance. Its ride, though occasionally firm, is wonderfully settled most of the time.