Fleet News

Ford Mondeo 2.0 TDdi Zetec 5dr - 3,761 miles



IT IS fair to say that historically there has rarely been a queue of Fleet News road tester names below the key hook marked Ford Mondeo diesel.

The old Mondeo had numerous virtues in terms of its ride and handling, regularly setting sector benchmarks, but its 1.8-litre turbodiesel engine was a serious chink in its armour.

So it is somewhat of a surprise that it has taken my name three months to climb to the top of the test drive list for the new Ford Mondeo diesel - and I'm supposed to be in charge round here!

The TDdi engine is still no match for the common rail diesel engines found in the Renault Laguna, Citroen C5, Peugeot 406 and Volkswagen Passat, but it is a significant step forward on its predecessor, and a competent stop-gap before the Mondeo gets common rail technology early next year.

Sound-proofed in a car that feels altogether more securely and solidly screwed together than the old Mondeo, the TDdi rattles at start-up then quietens as speed rises, becoming noticeably louder only under heavy acceleration.

And it is tempting to accelerate hard because of the new Mondeo's dynamic handling, which through the hidden magic of chassis and suspension has created a wonderful car to drive.

It's also a rather handsome beast, with sharper lines and greater presence than its predecessor, and if Ford was not guaranteed such a sales success with the car it could establish a rather desirable exclusivity.

Instead, legions of company car drivers are set to make the new Mondeo a rather common sight on UK roads. This may force certain user-choosers to swallow their pride before they select the blue oval, but it's definitely worth consideration.

Even in its current diesel guise the Mondeo looms much larger in the rear-view mirror of the Passat than Volkswagen engineers would like, with Teutonically-impressive build quality and the added flexibility of a huge boot below a flexible hatchback tailgate.

In Zetec trim the Mondeo gains a sporty leather and chrome steering wheel and smart alloy wheels. Personally, I would try hard to justify paying £1,750 extra for a separate 6 CD-player and satellite navigation system. Our model links these two functions, so if you want directions you have to sacrifice sing-along entertainment for the street map disc.

My only other gripe is the third gear which needs a strong, purposeful action to engage - my first drives in the Mondeo were peppered with anxious moments on higher speed roundabouts when the car popped out of gear. It seems that Ford diesel gearboxes are prone to this as the same problem befell our previous long term Focus diesel.

Overall, however, I can understand why it has taken me three months to get hold of the keys to the Mondeo, and I'll take some persuading to hand them on. Perhaps I'll just wait for the arrival of the common rail diesel Mondeo.

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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