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Ford Mondeo 2.0 TDCI Zetec S

Ford

Review

IT certainly has been a long time coming - more than a year in fact - but Ford has finally put its common rail Mondeo on the road.

While Peugeot, Citroen and Renault have long been converts to the common rail cause and Volkswagen Group ploughs its own 'pumpe duse' furrow, Ford seemed to be falling behind.

Its position behind the leading pack was emphasised in November 2000 when it launched the latest Mondeo with a single 113bhp turbodiesel engine, while rivals were readying their 130bhp-plus common rail and PD versions.

Now its 130bhp TDCi unit (turbodiesel common rail injection) is on sale for a significant price premium over the TDdi, but promising better performance, more refinement and no emissions or fuel consumption penalty.

It is also worth noting that this engine is available in the sporty Mondeo Zetec S. The petrol Zetec S is only available with the 2.5-litre V6, so Ford must be convinced that the performance will be good.

Its obvious rival would be the Volkswagen Passat with its 130bhp version of the 1.9-litre TDI engine, and in Sport trim the VW has some of the goodies found in the Mondeo.

In the same price bracket is the Renault Laguna using the new 150bhp 2.2 dCi - giving it a performance advantage over the Ford and Volkswagen.

Invariably when you select more powerful versions of upper-medium cars, the residual values forecast suffers. But in this case the Mondeo Zetec S has the measure of all but the lowly LX variants, predicted to retain 31% of its price new after three years and 60,000 miles. It seems better than the Laguna's 29%, but when you work out the cash lost over the period there is little to choose between the two, with a slight advantage for the Renault.

Meanwhile the Passat, as the class leader for residual values in its sector, is the best in comparison with a £700 advantage over the Renault over three years and 60,000 miles.

The Passat retains an advantage with the lowest predicted service, maintenance and repair costs at 2.16 pence per mile, compared with 2.29ppm for the Laguna and 2.50ppm for the Mondeo - possibly suffering from its 12,500-mile service intervals.

Each of these cars should return more than 40mpg on a regular basis, but the official figures show the Mondeo, while having a slim advantage over the more powerful Laguna, cannot match the Passat's impressive 48.7mpg.

However, our test car had larger wheels than standard, resulting in higher fuel consumption than LX and Zetec models, so this is worth bearing in mind, not least because it will also have a bearing on carbon dioxide emissions. Choosing a Mondeo in lesser trim would result in a lower company car tax bill on two counts - firstly through lower emissions and secondly lower list price.

However, at this level a 22% taxpayer will pay £752 in benefit-in-kind tax during 2002/03 and 2003/04, rising to £794 a year later. A driver in the Laguna would pay £725 for the first year of the emissions-based rules but its initial advantage over the Mondeo is short lived, increasing first to £806 during 2003/04, then to £886 a year later. The Passat wins the company car tax battle, with a benefit-in-kind bill of £737 from 2002/03, and remaining at that level until 2004/05 when it would reach £778.

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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