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Ford Mondeo 1.6 EcoBoost review (2011 onwards)
Model: Ford Mondeo 1.6 EcoBoost Titanium X
Bodystyle: Five-door hatchback
Engine: 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol
Transmission: six-speed manual
What is it?
The Ford Mondeo remains the definitive company car, and 'Mondeo man' the bloke who drives it. Sounds dull, doesn't it? But the latest Mondeo shouldn't be dismissed nearly that easily.
This big family car underwent a makeover at the tail end of 2010, but the really important changes haven't worked their way through the system until now. Two new 1.6-litre engines, petrol and diesel, show the way things are moving forward.
It's all about downsizing. Smaller engines mean lower CO2 and better economy. A few years ago you may not have cared. Today these two factors are the Holy Grail.
Cleaner, greener cars are cheaper to tax and cheaper to run. If you are a company car driver the arguments for a good environmental footprint are even more compelling. Just look at the deductions at the end of the month in your payslip.
With fuel prices apparently heading only in one direction, you might be wondering if the dramatic price of diesel is worth the extra economy. This petrol powered 1.6-litre Mondeo just might be a sensible alternative.
Where does it fit in?
Believe it or not, this Titanium X Mondeo is as posh as it gets in the Ford range these days. Big executive Fords like the Granada and Scorpio have long gone, leaving the Mondeo as the kingpin.
This segment of the market - full-sized family cars - has been in sales decline for a number of years. Many drivers now choose compact premium alternatives from Audi, BMW and Mercedes, even though they offer much less space.
Then there is the flanking attack from compact MPVs, SUVs and crossovers that promise either space or a lifestyle angle at much the same price as a Mondeo - or Insignia, Laguna, 508, Accord, Avensis, etc etc.
The list of rivals is never ending, but one car has taken the family market by storm. The Nissan Qashqai may have little in common with the Mondeo, but this crossover presses the right buttons for a lot of people who might have bought the Ford in the past.
Is it for you?
Yet no 4x4, people carrier or crossover can match the image of a proper family car. The Mondeo may still be 'only' a Ford, but it's both closer to a BMW than any of these and makes the statement that you don't necessarily spend half your life overwhelmed by kids and domestic clutter.
This is a proper spacious five-seater, with both hatchback and cavernous estate options. Though no saloon. British buyers may be happy with a four-door German, but turn their noses up at the saloon Mondeo.
What does it do well?
If you delve far enough back into the genes of this Mondeo you'll find the best selling model was the 1.6-litre Ford Cortina. With just 84hp even in GT form, it was lively enough to make the driver smile.
The new 1.6 EcoBoost produces almost twice that power though, as the Mondeo is bigger, stronger and safer, it's twice as heavy too. No matter, for turbocharging maxes out the torque available, bringing it close to that of the modern diesel.
It adds up to a driving experience that's probably light years better than you may have imagined. Smooth and responsive, this Mondeo is a pleasure to drive and rarely left wanting for more power.
It's not just the engine. Ford is a master at making its cars drive well, combining steering accuracy others find hard to match with supple suspension that gives both ride comfort and entertainment if the roads are right.
What doesn't it do well?
Key to the Mondeo's appeal is that there really isn't much wrong with it, apart from the fact it's rather large and there's some tyre noise on coarse road surfaces.
What's it like to live with?
One reason Ford no longer needs a Granada or Scorpio is that the Mondeo has now grown to much the same size. This is about as big as family cars come, and not much shorter than an E-Class Mercedes.
The disadvantage of this is when you come to park, but the upside is the fabulous room inside. With the E-Class and BMW 5 Series using up valuable packaging to accommodate their rear-wheel-drive configuration, the Mondeo ends up knocking them for six when it comes to passenger room.
There really is stretch-out legroom for five, and comfort too. The seats are well shaped and supportive, and as mentioned above, the ride is well judged. There is massive luggage space, with Volvo-rivalling practicality in the estate version.
Last year's facelift helped lift the feeling of interior quality, though Ford could still learn a trick or two from Audi. The fascia has all the sophistication that only a big European manufacturer seems able to bring to its cars, but there are still areas of silver plastic that don't quite do the Mondeo justice.
Elsewhere, the technology is on the button, though much of it a cost option. There's a good touch screen satnav with European mapping and full postcode recognition.
Various assistant packs give you lane departure warning, auto high beam headlights, adaptive cruise control and hill start assist. Particularly pleasing is the Windsor leather option, giving the Mondeo a sub-Bentley feel.
How green is it?
This, of course, is the big deal with the new engines. Combined with engine stop-start when stationary and Active Grille Shutter - motorised grilles that close at speed to reduce the drag - the Mondeo enters new territory.
The combined economy of this 1.6-litre EcoBoost petrol engine is 44mpg and unusually, we got close to that on a mix of motorway and London driving, according to the fuel computer.
CO2 is 149g/km compared with 184g/km for the 2.0-litre 145hp petrol model without a turbo. It adds up to a far more compelling case for a petrol Mondeo, especially for business users.
Of course the equivalent diesel, also new this year, is hard to beat, with 115g/km of CO2 and a potential 65mpg. The price difference is £1,200, while we saw only a 10mpg improvement on the petrol car over exactly the same route.
Would we buy it?
You'll probably approach this Ford unable to get away from the fact that it's just a mainstream model from a mainstream manufacturer. But the Mondeo wins you over very quickly indeed.
It's such a competent, comfortable, pleasant car to live with. And this new turbo-petrol engine shows you can downsize in capacity without spoiling the fun.
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