Fleet News

Contract hire survey: Can new Mondeo live up to the hype?

For years the Ford Mondeo name has been synonymous with the world of company car driving.

However, staff now want something different from the traditional “repmobile”, instead coveting style and badge appeal.

This has led to the premium marques – most notably Audi and BMW – muscling in on the Mondeo’s patch. As a result, the volume upper-medium sector is in decline, but Ford is ready to hit back with its new Mondeo – a car, it claims, which has quality levels hitherto unseen from a mass-market manufacturer. But the Mondeo faces some tough competition. While stealing sales away from the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series may be a long shot, there is plenty of competition in the volume market.

Volkswagen’s Passat is the current car of choice here, bringing amazing residual values. It has won both the upper-medium car and company car of the year titles at the last two Fleet News Awards.

Then there’s the Mondeo’s nemesis – the Vauxhall Vectra. An all-new version is due out next year but the current model does a fine job in this sector thanks to a thorough reworking in 2005.

Making up the rest of the competition are the Peugeot 407, Toyota Avensis and Mazda6.

The panel

Contract services manager, DaimlerChrysler Fleet Management

Once the epitome of the company vehicle, upper-medium sector cars appear to be losing their caché. Drivers are either downsizing to “greener” alternatives, or choosing prestige cars.

The Passat has the aura that it is a cut above the others, while the new Mondeo boasts some innovative design features and lower running costs than its predecessor.

The 2005-facelifted Vectra is some way through its lifecycle and could fare worst in the Mondeo/Vectra sales battle.

These vehicles’ wholelife costs will be under close scrutiny in order to make the grade on to fleet choice lists.

Head of risk, Hitachi Capital

The upper-medium sector represents the archetypal fleet car, but the market has shrunk over the past five years.

No longer satisfied with a well-equipped and capable hatchback, employees demand a premium badge.

Building on the capabilities of the old model, the new Mondeo looks classy while the Passat appeals to those seeking more prestige.

Once cutting-edge design, the Peugeot and Vectra now look dated, while the Mazda6 represents good value.

Often the bridesmaid but never the bride, the Avensis has done well despite its odd looks and finds favour in the auction halls.

Pricing manager, Lex

Although much-maligned as a declining sector, this is still prime company car territory and the Mondeo is clearly the best in class. Attention to detail in terms of design and build quality is excellent, and a real step forward from the outgoing car.

The big question is how long can it keep that title?

The competition is pretty tough. Vectra, Mazda6 and Avensis are ageing but still very competent, with replacements due soon. The Passat is a big hit with user-choosers, and Peugeot’s 407 still delivers excellent diesel engines and wholelife costs.

The Mondeo should also expect new challengers from Renault and Citroën in the next 12 months.

Commercial operations manager, Lloyds TSB autolease

This sector has come under threat in recent years from the MPV, SUV and premium upper-medium sectors. The all-new Mondeo, with its fresh styling and premium feel interior, seeks to regain a share of the market it once dominated and reduce the perceived quality gap between it and the Passat.

Residuals values are strongest for these two, along with the Avensis which benefits from its reputation for reliability and quality.

Low maintenance budgets and discounts on Vauxhall and Peugeot help keep their rentals low. All these cars are highly competent, underlining the competitiveness in the sector.


    The Mazda and Peugeot lead the way thanks to strong support and competitive maintenance bills. The Avensis is the most expensive thanks to the highest SMR bill and a low level of discount from Toyota.


    The Avensis offers the lowest emissions and falls in to the 19% tax bracket. The Vauxhall and Volkswagen fall into the 20% band, with the Mondeo and 407 in the 21% bracket and the Mazda6 last on 23%.


    Another table-topping performance from the Toyota, which is the only model to record more than a claimed 50mpg. The remainder are all very evenly matched, but the Mazda is last again on 47.1.


    A strong showing from the Passat with an average RV of 37%. The new Mondeo performs well at 34%, matching the Toyota. The Mazda keeps above 30%, while the 407 and Vectra languish in the 20%s.


    Ford, Toyota and Volkswagen offer an average of 8% off. The Mondeo puts in a strong showing thanks to its freshness and Ford’s new policy of pricing it lower to get rid of any leeway for mass discounting.


    The Vectra is the cheapest car for SMR, costing around £200 less than the Mondeo. The Passat, 407 and Mazda6 are close behind, while the Avensis looks pricey at £260 more than the Vectra.

    How the panel voted

    1. Ford Mondeo 2.0 TDCi 140 Edge

    P11D price: £17,222
    2007 BIK bill (22%) £795
    2007 VED bill £140

    DCFM: £336
    Hitachi Capital: £361
    Lex: £342
    Lloyds TSB autolease: £360

    Strong RV and a low level of support are both clear indications that Ford is serious about moving the Mondeo brand upmarket.

    2. Volkswagen Passat 2.0 TDI S

    P11D price: £17,472
    2007 BIK bill (22%): £768
    2007 VED bill: £140

    DCFM: £318
    Hitachi Capital: £342
    Lex: £346
    Lloyds TSB autolease: £346

    VERDICT: Solid RVs, little support and strong brand appeal keep the Passat in the upper-medium hunt, and it is cheaper to lease than the Mondeo.

    3. Toyota Avensis 2.0 D-4D T3-S

    P11D price: £17,517
    2007 BIK bill (22%): £732
    2007 VED bill: £115

    DCFM: £348
    Hitachi Capital: £369
    Lex: £366
    Lloyds TSB autolease: £352

    VERDICT: The most expensive to lease, the Avensis has a strong RV and little support from Toyota. Cheapest in benefit-in-kind tax, though.

    4. Vauxhall Vectra 1.9 CDTi 120 Life

    P11D price: £17,582
    2007 BIK bill (22%): £773
    2007 VED bill: £140

    DCFM: £329
    Hitachi Capital: £361
    Lex: £353
    Lloyds TSB autolease: £302

    VERDICT: Low SMR bills and high levels of manufacturer support put the Vectra fourth, but it is an ageing car now which is reflected in its low RV forecast.

    5. Mazda6 2.0d 143 TS

    P11D price: £16,577
    2007 BIK bill (22%): £838
    2007 VED bill: £140

    DCFM: £300
    Hitachi Capital: £329
    Lex: £318
    Lloyds TSB autolease: £324

    VERDICT: Cheapest at the front end, the Mazda6 offers a low rental but the largest benefit-in-kind tax bills thanks to its high CO2 emissions.

    6. Peugeot 407 2.0 HDi 136 S

    P11D price: £17,277
    2007 BIK bill (22%): £798
    2007 VED bill: £140

    DCFM: £278
    Hitachi Capital: £331
    Lex: £345
    Lloyds TSB autolease £299

    VERDICT: The cheapest rental rate thanks to Peugeot’s strong support to counter a poor RV forecast. Still up there with the best for economy and emissions.

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