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As I shouted across at my passenger sitting somewhere over in the far distance to my left it struck me how unbelievably big this new Mondeo is.
How big? Well it’s actually wider than a Mercedes-Benz S-Class, and taller too. The little old Vectra is nearly 10 centimetres skinnier. Is it just me, or is this unremitting enlargement of new cars getting a bit daft?
There’s nothing wrong with the strategy of a lot of metal for your money, and you could never accuse Ford of scrimping in that area, but give up the garage and pass up on the parking space.
The Mondeo is a hugely important car for Ford, bearing in mind the parlous state of the company, especially in the USA, and it’s to the firm’s credit that this effort is no half-measure. It has had the kitchen sink thrown at it.
From the front, it is a very attractive car. Unsurprisingly, given its proportions, it has a commanding presence to it, and some of the chrome detailing, especially around the grille, gives it a very classy visage. But all that metal, especially around the rear, does make it look “big-boned”.
The kinetic design language is intended to imbue the car with the feel of “energy in motion”, although perhaps it has ended up with a look that’s a little too redolent of “sitting in front of the TV”.
Inside, Ford has converted those excessive proportions into lots of space. Shoulder room is such that the driver and front passenger could happily head off to their American Football match in full kit and still not invade each other’s personal space. And the boot is just massive.
In terms of quality, Ford has made grand claims for the Mondeo’s premium standards but while some elements are nicely done – the brushed aluminium is perfectly “now”, some of the plastics lower down the cabin look on the cheap side.
Our test car came with the Human Machine Interface system, which allows you to control most of the key functions of the car from the steering wheel, but it was more of a face-off than an interface with me.
You either get these systems straight away, or you don’t, depending on how your brain is wired. As I know others who find HMI excellent, we’ll put that down to personal taste.
The Mondeo’s real strength throughout has been how well it drives and in the new car Ford has done a superb job.
It feels nimble and rides beautifully, even on the 18-inch wheels our car had, although the roar from them did make it noisy at motorway speeds. Perhaps 17- inch wheels might be the ideal combination.
The 2.0-litre diesel engine has 137bhp, which is just about enough to haul it along, but at least it is smooth and quiet, so in fact you don’t have to shout at your distant passengers after all.
P11D value: £18,205
CO2 emissions (g/km): 156
BIK % of P11D in 2007: 21%
Graduated VED rate: £140
Insurance group: 8
Combined mpg: 47.9
CAP RV (3yr/60k): £5,625/31%
Monthly lease (3yr/60k): £412
The Passat, Mondeo and Vectra are all mid-range cars and are specced accordingly: cloth seats, CD player, and mid-range climate control or air-conditioning. The Accord is a new variant that aims to introduce the car at a lower price point, and make it more attractive for company car drivers, and has similar levels of equipment to the others.
Despite having the biggest engine at 2.2 litres, the Honda has the lowest CO2 emissions and is the cheapest in company car tax. A 22% taxpayer would pay only £62 a month. The Vectra would be just behind at £66 while the Mondeo and Passat would cost £70 and £74 respectively.
The VW and Honda are evenly matched for service, maintenance and repair at around £2,000 over three years/60,000 miles. The Vectra is cheaper, thanks mainly to low labour rates. Servicing costs before tyres and brakes would be £370, compared to the Mondeo’s £550.
Vectra: 2.97 (pence per mile) £1,782 (60,000 miles total)
Passat: 3.27/£1,962 Accord: 3.49/£2,094 Mondeo: 3.77/£2,262
The Accord’s excellent fuel economy gives it the edge over the Vectra. It appears size matters: the Mondeo and Passat are big cars and suffer slightly in terms of fuel consumption. The Mondeo averages 47.9mpg on the combined cycle while the Accord manages 51.4mpg.
Accord: 8.63 (pence per mile) £5,178 (60,000 miles total)
The ageing Vectra struggles to hold on to its value, and 22.43ppm cost reflects a 26% RV prediction from CAP. The new Mondeo just gets back to parity with the traditionally strong Passat and Accord in pence-per-mile terms, while in percentage terms the Passat is top at 37%.
Accord: 19.97 (pence per mile) £11,982 (60,000 miles total)
The Mondeo does a good, middling job in nearly all areas of wholelife costs while the Vectra manages to offset its weaker RVs. The Passat and Accord are the two best though, with strong RVs and, in the Accord’s case, excellent fuel economy. But all four are very closely matched.
Accord : 32.09 (pence per mile) £19,254 (60,000 miles total)
The Vauxhall Vectra might be long in the tooth, but it puts up a tremendous effort against much newer products. But the others each moved the bar up when they were launched – the Accord’s engine, the Passat’s quality and the Mondeo’s size and dynamism. But the Accord has a combination of low tax and running costs, performance and appeal that allows it to sneak victory.