Whenever I see the words 'automatic' and 'thinking' in the same sentence I begin to worry because previous experience has proved to me that these gearboxes are invariably poor. And Ford hasn't managed to change my opinion with its latest offering, called Durashift 5-tronic.
According to Ford, the gearbox 'in automatic mode thinks and drives like a manual gearbox'. Well, I don't know what kind of driver they based this on, but I certainly don't drive around and drop two gears before lunging violently forward and I also don't spend what seems like half a minute fishing about for a gear.
Durashift 5-tronic is only available as a £1,500 cost option on certain Mondeo models, mostly higher specification TDCi common rail diesels and the 2.5-litre V6 petrol engine. I tested the latter in Zetec-S estate trim, coming in at £21,145 on-the-road.
You would think that an automatic gearbox with a manual override would suit the languid nature of Ford's V6 engine well. But it doesn't because the 5-tronic unit spends too much of its time 'thinking' and not enough time concentrating on what it is doing.
My ideal automatic gearbox would not be too keen to kickdown when acceleration is required. Sometimes you just want to ride the torque curve for acceleration but 5-tronic just won't let you do this.
Instead, the gearbox senses through the throttle position that you want to go a bit quicker then 'ums' and 'ahs' about it for a while before deciding to drop down a couple of gears and then launch you forward.
It all makes for a highly annoying drive because you try to overcome the gearbox by using the throttle differently but this just creates more confusion. And then you decide to use the manual function but this has no mechanical feel to it at all. It will also allow you to engage first gear at nearly 30mph, which is an uncomfortable downshift too far.
Unfortunately you can't specify the standard four-speed automatic gearbox on either this engine or the TDCi unit and this is a great shame. Ford may have invested heavily in designing this gearbox but it needs more work. And this is a shame because the Mondeo is a great car and in Zetec-S estate trim it is a well-equipped and spacious load-lugger.
If you must have the V6 engine, go for the standard five-speed manual and save yourself £1,500 and if you want an auto, go for the 2.0-litre engine instead.
Model Ford Mondeo V6 Zetec-S estate 5-tronic
Price (OTR) £21,145
Engine (cc) 2,500
Max power (bhp/rpm) 169/6,250
Max torque (lb-ft/rpm) 163/4,250
Max speed (mph) 136
0-62mph (secs) 8.7
C02 emissions (g/km) 247
Fuel consumption (mpg) 27.4
CAP residual value (3yrs/60,000-miles) £5,425/26%