Fleet News

Ford Mondeo Zetec 2.0 TDdi 5dr - 2,753 miles

Ford

Review

FORD has been painfully slow getting its act together on being able to supply cars with hi-tech carbon dioxide friendly and fuel efficient diesel engine technology.

In fact, it is the only major fleet diesel manufacturer not to offer common rail diesel engines, despite being second only to Peugeot in the sales charts.

Such success says something not so much about the diesel-engined cars so far available but more for Ford's marketing department in convincing users that its current diesel engines are 'the real thing' for today's needs.

But all that is about to change as Ford is going BIG on diesel. A range of new common rail TDCi engines is to be launched which will initially find their way into Fiesta, Focus and Mondeo and the manufacturer's Dagenham factory is about to be transformed into a global diesel engine assembly plant.

So where does that leave Ford with its current diesel engines and should fleets wait for the new range of powerplants to become available?

It is a question which is regularly asked in the office and will doubtless have been discussed by fleet managers as they recommend diesel-engined cars to company car drivers in a bid to ease benefit-in-kind tax bills with the April 2002 introduction of a tax system based on a combination of P11D price and CO2 figures.

I am currently at the wheel of our long-term £17,070-on-the-road Mondeo Zetec powered by a 2.0-litre 113 bhp TDdi engine pumping out 156g/km of CO2.

CO2 figures for the 130bhp 2.0-litre TDCi engine which will power the Mondeo are not available yet. However, the 1.8 TDCi unit in the Focus has the identical CO2 figure and fuel consumption statistics as the 1.8 TDdi which remains in the range (143g/km and 52.3 mpg respectively).

Fleet News understands that Ford will be charging a £500 premium for TDci versions of the Mondeo over the equivalently specced TDdi, and it is expected to launch the TDCi as a 'sub-brand' within the range.

So if the benchmark set with the Focus is to be followed with the Mondeo, the extra £500 will buy significantly improved performance - an additional 20bhp and a 16% torque boost giving much improved low down pulling power - but with a fractionally higher tax bill (22% or 40% of £500 which equates to an extra £2.11 or £3.84 a week).

Given that the forthcoming diesel engine will be significantly quieter than that in our test car and performance will be significantly better, it is a small price to pay.

The TDCi engine range has been much delayed but Ford this week told Fleet News that 'job one' was due in November with cars due to arrive in showrooms in January next year, coinciding with a new advertising campaign.

With manufacturers and contract hire and leasing companies reporting that fleets are extending replacement cycles while they make policy decisions my advice is to place your order for a TDCi Mondeo today.

TDdi versions of the Mondeo will continue to be sold, probably as a 'budget version', but Ford is expecting the majority of fleets and company car drivers to opt for the new powerplant.

One final point is that CAP Monitor quotes residual values on diesel upper-medium sector cars as being 1% higher than equivalent petrol models. However, for most of the Mondeo range the reverse is true - a reflection that Ford is lagging behind on diesel . But that will change when the TDCi unit is launched. Meanwhile, as my colleague Keith Moody remarked in his Mondeo long term test report, our Zetec trim Mondeo does not want for goodies with standard equipment including manual air conditioning, electric windows, heated front screen (well done Ford - all other manufacturers should follow suit) and front and side airbags.

Our long term test car has a distinct dislike for moving from second to third gear and there is an annoying wind noise emanating from the rear passenger side window area, although there appears to be no problem with the window.

The seats are comfortable and there is significantly more room for people and luggage when compared to the old Mondeo.

Put your foot down and performance is far from pitiful and as a motorway cruiser for a sales rep it is an excellent machine … but the TDCi Mondeo will be better.

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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