BMW teams up with Italian styling gurus at Pininfarina for slick new coupe
Ford Mondeo review (2011 onwards)
Summary: the Ford Mondeo is a more important car than many higher profile models - given mainly to fleet drivers, it's a choice many are faced with. To help encourage them, Ford's facelifted it, with more technology, smoother lines and a posher interior.
We like: Involving and driver-pleasing handling, cavernous space, newly sensible price structure, refined looks
We don't like: Interior not wholly premium, image not Audi-level, inevitable company car overtones
Ford has sold 120,000 new Mondeos in the UK since its launch in 2007. It may not be the most exciting car to contemplate, but it's very important; one in every four large fleet cars in the UK is a Mondeo. To ensure this remains the case, Ford has facelifted it.
Changes are subtle in images but noticeable on the road. Eyecatcher is front LED daytime running lights (alas, only for posh Titanium specs), matched by 'lightbar' LED strips in the tail lamps. Posh versions get more chrome; more subtly, new bonnet and bumpers smooth the lines.
Ford overhauled the engines earlier in the year, with sub-140g/km revisions for all 2.0-litre diesels. Now, it's powerboost time - there's a 200hp 2.2-litre diesel, and a 240hp 2.0-litre petrol replacing the thirsty (and eco-unfriendly) old 2.5-litre.
Technology is up, too. Lane departure warning buzzers, auto high beam and sleepy-driver alert are all available, within a better quality interior. Ford hinted at Audi here, yet prices are certainly not Audi level: they're the same as before.
Engine-wise, the powerful 2.2-litre diesel will win favour with all the fleet drivers who take it, but it's the 240hp petrol that's most intriguing. This is a 153mph Mondeo that's 50% more powerful than the old 2.3-litre auto, but also 19% more fuel-efficient.
It feels very strong on the road, with pulling power building from below 2,000rpm. It offers forceful throttle response and higher speed shove satisfies. Oh, and it sounds throaty, too: Ford's fitted the same 'sound symposer' as was on the old Focus RS superhatch!
Ride and handling
No major changes here other than Ford's usual ongoing tweaks. It remains a highly agile, light-on-its-feet machine for one so (very) large. Steering is hot-hatch crisp, brake feel is superb and the suspension damping a class act.
Ford has softened harshness from potholes, by changing the tyre setup on most versions. Drivers can spoil this by fitting the new option of 19-inch alloys. Oh, and the price for such steering feel on this 240hp is, at times, the odd tweak of steering wheel squirm under power.
Ford's most-spoken word in the launch of the 2011 Mondeo was 'premium'. It's been on a quality drive inside; the overall design is the same but the detailing within is more upmarket, soft-touch and, yes, premium - even down to offering the best grade of Nappa leather on the market.
A new satin-finish centre console is clearer and more flush, the dials are easier to read and a sleeker top to the doors now extends to the rear two as well. LEDs in the (woven) rooflining add night-time glamour; extensive refinement changes mean it's a considerable 2.5dB quieter.
There are still niggles. The firm, broad seats feel great but are set high; the dash computer is hardly straightforward and lower dash plastics are still far off Audi-grade. Stubby electric window switches nibble at the premium image too. Ford cannot yet boast 'Germanic' finish, but it's getting there.
Space is colossal. There's stacks of width in the front, leg-crossing room in the rear and a boot that is visually so large, you get a shock each time you open the (massive) lid. High seats and a low windowline mean visibility is good; should you miss something, blind spot warning systems are now available.
Economy and safety
All Ford's 2.0-litre TDCi diesels now emit 139g/km CO2 - no matter what the power output or, significantly, the bodystyle. A BMW-style auto-close grille helps here; its default mode is shut, to improve aerodynamics, progressively opening as required.
Even the surging 200hp 2.2-litre diesel emits below 160g/km - and the 240hp petrol? That emits 179g/km and averages 36.6mpg, nearly 20% more than the old 2.3-litre auto with half the power. The new Mondeo retains more value secondhand too: low-30 percents is still some way off German level, though.
The new tech features help improve safety, by spotting if you're falling asleep, sensing if there's a hidden car next to you on the motorway - or simply switching on the full-beam headlights whenever possible for you. Choose the £1,500 sat-nav and you get a reversing camera, too.
Optional computer controlled active suspension adds further handling safety no matter what the passenger load. It's a particularly good idea for safety-conscious estate drivers - it also improves ride quality. For £800, we'd have it, if the company would let us.
The MSN Cars verdict
Ford has made the Mondeo look far better on fleet users' driveways, with tweaked looks and a posher interior. It still drives brilliantly, is huge inside and better value; the 240hp petrol entertains too. It is not an Audi yet, but it's getting there, and is a fine car to use. If only it wasn't for the fleet car image...
|Need to know|
|Engines, petrol||2.0-litre turbo (two versions), 2.0-litre, 1.6-litre|
|Engines, diesel||2.2 four-cylinder, 2.0 four-cylinder (three versions)|
|Power, hp||115 - 240|
|Torque, lb ft||118 - 309|
|0-62 mph, secs||7.5 - 12.2|
|Top speed, mph||118 - 153|
|Mpg combined||35.8 - 53.3|
|CO2, g/km / Tax %||139 - 184 / 19 - 25|
|Ride & handling||****|
|MSN Cars verdict||****|
Read another Ford review on MSN Cars
related stories on msn
Latest Cars videos
MSN Cars' Steve Walker takes the UK's cheapest new car for a test drive to see if it's worth parting only £5,995 for.
Date 23/05/13, Duration 4:17, Views 1063