Having driven a few pre-production Mondeos over the past months, I finally got behind the wheel of the real thing during the launch in Sardinia. Top spec was the order of the day – 2.5-litre petrol and a 2.0-litre TDCi with lots of kit, and not a cheap 1.6 petrol or 1.8 diesel in sight. A sensible tactic by Ford!
The new Mondeo is remarkably quiet, and has exceptional levels of quality. It looks good – especially the estate – and drives well so, in theory, Ford has got it right. I teamed up with Nigel Sharp, sales director, Ford of Britain, and we drove over 300 miles together. Nigel is determined to move Ford away from heavy discounts, and will lower considerably the number of Mondeos going on to rental fleets in a concerted effort to protect residuals and get them back where they belong.
He doesn’t believe thousands of drivers of BMWs and Audis will flock into Ford showrooms, but it will stop current Mondeo drivers leaving the brand and those who have never considered a Ford before may well now take a look. The Mondeo for me would be the Zetec diesel estate. The £1,250 premium over the hatch and saloon seems a snip.
Historically, Mondeo drivers have probably been given the vehicle, rather than choosing one.
However, the new Mondeo could be the car that reverses that pattern.
After the Blue Oval, the rest of the week turned green. Firstly, down to the IDIADA test track near Barcelona to drive the all-new Lexus LS600h. The 600h is a full hybrid, with similar technology to other Lexus models, but for the first time has an AWD system which is split 40% front/60% rear under normal driving conditions.
The downside to the car is a lack of boot room with only 320-litres – similar to a VW Golf. Prices have not yet been announced but they are expected to start at around £80,000. It will be interesting to see what sort of fuel economy this “green” car can achieve. But if Lexus manages to invade the boardroom with the LS600h and takes business from the usual suspects in the normally conservative luxury sector, then its hybrid technology is well on the way to being a winner.
Over to Berlin for the day to drive the Passat BlueMotion. This is Volkswagen’s interim answer for a cleaner, more fuel efficient car.
The Passat BlueMotion does 55mpg according to official figures, it is quiet, has more than enough power, has a 12% lower drag coefficient than a standard Passat due to lower suspension and streamlined aerodynamics and special hard compound tyres to reduce rolling resistance. If it is priced similarly to a 1.9 TDI S it should prove a very useful fleet car, although suggestions that it may cost £1,000 more over here don’t bode well. The Passat is already the star in the volume upper-medium sector in terms of residuals and the BlueMotion should be an even stronger proposition.
Fuel economy is getting more and more important to the used car buyer. But it’s very important that it’s not overpriced at the front end.