DTW has a spin in a 2010 Ford Mondeo 2.0 TDCi. If you´re thinking of getting a used one it´s probably going to be one of these.
The Ford Mondeo: what do we really know about this car? I had a test drive and can report how an informed but not expert enthusiast experienced it.
Zetec trim adorned the vehicle and under the bonnet Ford had kindly installed their 2.0 litre TDCi engine. In many ways this car could be said to be the typical midranger and so is representative of the sort of Mondeo many people choose to live with for six or seven years of their lives.
My first impressions were of the remarkable size of the car. Between the driver´s seat and the front passenger an appreciable gap yawned. And the sense of the car´s exterior dimensions were also palpable. I have written elsewhere about the sad lack of large cars equivalent to the Granadas and Omegas of yesteryear. In some ways I can now see at first hand why these don´t exist any more. It´s because having something much larger than a Mondeo would mean an unfeasibly vast motor carriage. That said, I found the Mondeo quite easy to get used to and I had no problems punting it along ordinary streets or parking it. The only minor trouble I encountered involved gouging a 40 cm ravine on the bodyside. I had to do a two-point turn in a multi-story car park just so as to negotiate a corner on the down ramp. I was afraid of hitting the raised concrete rib separating the “up” from the “down” lanes so I kept left and ran the car along a nice pointy concrete edge just below the window line.
I don´t have any measurements to put some quantitative bones under the flesh of my qualitative assessment. That said I can report that at hundred miles an hour the car is quiet and relaxed. Only the fact that most other cars are disappearing into your rear view mirror gives a slight hint that you are in serious danger of gaining points on your licence. I can imagine Ford have spent some considerable trouble making a trip such as from Hamburg to Berlin one that the Mondeo executes with great ease. The car has a fine ride and muffles the craters found in the midlands´ roadsurfaces very well indeed.
This was my first time to sample a six speed gearbox. All the ratios changed easily with a well-defined action. In sixth the car was registering 2000 rpm at 90 miles per hour. I did sometimes find that selecting the right gear at lower speeds produced some unwelcome lurches but I feel this is my fault and not the car´s. I presume after a few more days at the wheel one quickly manages to do a better job of picking a ratio than I did during my brief fling.
As I said, I don´t know how quickly the car got from rest to too fast but I can say that I was pressed into my seat, the steering wheel did a torque-steer shimmy but settled almost instantly thereafter. The car zoomed into gaps in traffic and reacted in the way I wanted in the time allowed.
I could go on doing my best impression of a seasoned car journo. But I will stop there and change tack.
Given that many people don´t read car magazines and that they will buy a Mondeo without a test drive and that they will be trading up from a knackered 11-year old Astra or baggy Laguna…given all that, I have had a revelation. Most people will think this car (or any new car) is simply the best car they have ever driven. It will have met and exceeded by a long country mile their limited expectations. And what flaws the car does have will be entirely unnoticed.
The other realisation is that if a fairly standard Ford Mondeo is quite as excellent as I have found it then how much more astonishing is a BMW 535? Or, put it another way, can an ordinary consumer really detect a difference proportional to the price difference between a BMW and a Ford?
Here are the things I found wanting in the Ford Mondeo: in the version I tried the rear seats couldn´t be arranged to make a flat floor when folded down. Otherwise the boot was huge. There was a slight vibration of the bonnet when I was driving at a stupidly high rate of knots. I didn´t like the rear ashtray; it was flimsy and loose and unworthy of the ash of my Villiger. There are two small plastic panels left and right of the centre console that have no obvious function. The metal fillets that brighten the dashboard look insufficiently opulent. And that´s it. Apart from these trifles I found the car to be smooth, fast and comfortable and a pleasure to conduct.
My conclusion is that for most people the best car in the world is any new one. It doesn´t have to be one that has lapped the Nurburgring in the shortest possible time. The best car in the world is available to most of us in a mainstream dealer down the road and it needn´t cost more than £18,000. Isn´t that astonishing?
[First published elsewhere in March 2010]