Review and road test of the Ford Mondeo Hybrid
Ford still hopes its petrol/electric hybrid Mondeo can convert enviro-conscious buyers in the medium range segment. Jonathan Crouch reports.
Ten Second Review of the Ford Mondeo Hybrid
The Ford Mondeo Hybrid is an under-rated medium segment contender. Refined, economical and well-priced, it manages not much more than 100g/km and should return nearly 60mpg. Plus despite losing 100-litres of boot space to the hybrid mechanicals, you won't need to pack light, particular if you choose the estate body style that Ford now offers. Originally with this model, many concluded that a diesel Mondeo model would simply do more for less. Not though, a few of these people might be thinking again.
Ford wasn't just late to the hybrid party here in the UK. It arrived at the party and found that the revellers had left, grown old and fat, got jobs in conveyancing and had then retired to Worthing. It was fully 17 years ago that the first modern hybrid car was launched in Britain, so as a wait and see policy, Ford have hardly been rushed into action. In that time, Toyota, Honda, Lexus, BMW, Mercedes, Porsche, Peugeot Ferrari, McLaren and Audi have all developed hybrid vehicles. Our American cousins got the Ford Escape hybrid back in 2007, but for this nation with some of the highest fuel prices in the world? Nada.
Still, better late than never. And after waiting all this time and with the resources at its disposal, we're expecting quite a lot of the Ford Mondeo Hybrid. In fact, the blue Oval is launching two versions, a plug-in and a more conventional parallel hybrid that we take a first look at here.
The recipe on offer certainly seems an interesting one. Power comes courtesy of a specially-developed 2.0-litre petrol engine combined with two electric motors - one to drive the wheels and another to supply regenerative charging - and a 1.4kWh lithium-ion battery. A total output of 190PS means it's certainly not slow off the mark and the characteristic torque of the electric motor should make city driving easy. At low speeds, the electric motor powers the front wheels independently and top speed in EV mode is a reasonable 85mph.
Drive is deployed to the front wheels via a CVT transmission that aims to keep the engine in the fat part of the torque curve at all times. Underneath is Ford's global CD-segment platform, which uses Ford's integral link rear suspension. The stiff platform and body structure combination delivers plenty of torsional stiffness and the Mondeo also gets electrically-assisted power steering with variable weighting to match the "comfort," "normal" and "sport" chassis settings of Ford's Continuous Control Damping.
Design and Build
Unless you knew this Mondeo was a hybrid, you probably wouldn't pick up on the fact. It's low key and is offered in both saloon and estate forms, both of which feature subtle green and blue badging. Like the rest of the Mondeo range, this one gets Ford's Aston Martin lookalike grille with laser-cut headlamps and a power dome bonnet, while the fuselage is sculptured and sophisticated in its design. Ford calls the roofline 'a sports coupe profile' which might be pushing it a bit, but it's quite a handsome thing.
Inside, Mondeo drivers are met with a digital analogue instrument cluster, while a wrap-around centre console design delivers a cockpit-like feel. There are touchpad-style buttons for the major functions. Materials quality is higher than you might expect, with a soft-touch instrument panel and flock-lined central front storage area and glovebox, but it's still a little shy of the premium German marques. Unfortunately, the lithium-ion batteries rob around 100-litres of boot space compared to a conventional Mondeo.
Market and Model
Ford has pitched the Mondeo Hybrid at around £27,000: that's for the saloon. You'll pay around £1,800 more for the alternative estate body style. These kinds of figures seem reasonable given that you'd pay about this much for a decently-specced Toyota Prius, a smaller car that's got over 50PS less power. Equipment from the single 'Titanium Edition' trim level offered includes climate control, cruise control, heated seats and Bluetooth, plus there are a bunch of interesting options to choose from. If you want more, this drivetrain is also offered from around £30,000 with the top 'Vignale' level of Mondeo trim.
A key Mondeo safety technology feature is Pedestrian Detection, which identifies people and reduces the severity of collisions at speeds of up to 50mph. If a pedestrian is detected in front of the car and a collision becomes imminent, the driver will first receive an audible and visual warning. Should that driver not respond, the system then shortens the time required to apply the brakes by reducing the gap between brake pads and discs. If there is still no response from the person at the wheel, the brakes will be applied autonomously and the vehicle speed reduced. Active City Stop, a spin-off of this technology, operates at speeds of up to 25mph and aims to prevent you rear-ending the car in front in stop/start traffic. A radar system also drives the Distance Indication feature and Adaptive Cruise Control technology. Cameras support a Lane Keeping Aid and Traffic Sign Recognition, which provides the driver with the speed limit, cancellation signs and overtaking regulations flashed up on the instrument cluster display. There are also full adaptive LED headlights on offer, as well as Active Park Assist featuring Perpendicular Parking.
Cost of Ownership
The big question concerns whether this Mondeo can stack up as a financial proposition compared to its diesel siblings. That might prove difficult. Hats off to Ford for getting such a big car down to just 108g/km for its carbon dioxide emissions, which equates to a fuel consumption figure quoted at 58.9mpg. For comparison, the alternative 2.0 TDCi 150PS diesel version of this car manages 130g/km and 56.5mpg.
The Ford Mondeo Hybrid is an interesting one. Taken in isolation, it's a gem. A big and economical hybrid with well-integrated technology at a price that's more than fair compared to other hybrids on the market. But we don't buy cars in isolation, and you'd have to be really sold on the refinement of the petrol/electric installation to choose one of these over a diesel. A diesel which, remember, is not only more economical and lower in emissions, but which is significantly cheaper and available in a series of more practical body styles.
As it stands, as intriguing as the Mondeo Hybrid is, it looks destined to remain a bit-part player. That said, it's a clear indication by Ford that despite coming late to the hybrid game, it's right in there at the pointy end when it comes to technical ability. Now they just need to work on the marketing proposition.
Ford Mondeo Hybrid review by Jonathan Crouch