I've never been a great fan of Fords – an opinion that was reinforced by a brief spell in the previous Fleet News' Mondeo which was powered by the old 2.0 TDdi 113bhp engine. But the new common rail TDCi 128bhp engine and a 1,600 mile trip changed my mind.
The Mondeo is an excellent car well-suited to a long motorway journey or touring holiday. The 128bhp engine is a dream – the acceleration never fails to impress with a fierce response and there is very little in the way of noise. It's a world away from the old engine.
Ford is committed to diesel with common rail technology being introduced across the range and with engines like this, it has to be good news for fleets.
Fuel consumption is surprisingly frugal, even with some fast motorway driving.
I was surprised I had managed to increase the Fleet News' average test fuel economy to 41.4mpg which made the cheaper diesel prices in France even more appealing. Unlike some of the Fleet News' team I don't have a problem with the clutch which has caught a few people out, causing the Mondeo to stall. That was until someone mentioned it and it became an obsession for the next few days.
Once you are used to the sharp clutch, though, it is fine.
My only other complaint is the driver's seat. I just can't seem to get really comfortable no matter what I do.
That aside the inside of the car is well equipped with plenty of room for five adults and ample luggage space in the boot.
The driver's window (which seized in the open position when a colleague last drove it through Customs and was later fixed) is worryingly slow to open or close so it is a blessing to have a passenger dealing with motorway tolls.
The Mondeo 2.0 TDCi is a competitively priced car, particularly as the on-the-road price has been reduced by £400 since launch.
Perhaps the extra saving could offset the cost of our car's wonderful 18-inch alloy wheels, which may mean more costly tyre changes, but really do make the car stand out from other Mondeos I eyed up in the ferry queue.
Company car tax bill 2002 (22% taxpayer): ££61.85