Public Service

It’s happening now: the Mk2 Mondeo is slipping away.

Ever since I showed a Mitsubishi Galant (last version) I have wanted a good, clear photo of a Mk2 Mondeo for comparison. They’ve been thin on the ground and most have been hatchbacks or estates. This can be interpretted as the fact they are being taken out of circulation. This banal photo shows a rarity in the making. The last ones are reaching 160,000 miles and ending their planned service life.

This photo is here because I could not find a straight side view on the web that I liked. It’s a tidy V6 model with a cloth interior, seen in Kolding, Denmark.

This version is the best of the four so far, a great example of solid, democratic design. At the time it came out writers likened it to the Passat. It is not a resemblance I can see.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

32 thoughts on “Public Service”

  1. Ironically that V6 is a bit of a unicorn. Ford sold very few non-ST six pots; only 300-odd in the UK according to How Many Left. I can’t imagine there are more than a couple of thousand left scattered across the EU.

    1. There is a V6 estate that lives near me. It´s not a Ghia either. It´s got cream leather and black paint. No brightwork. Evidently a special order. The received wisdom was that one should never order a V6 because of the depreciation. It´s the old self-fulfilling prophecy that journalists like to set up. They really ought to keep that stuff out of their reviews. It´s okay to discuss market reception in retrospect but to do it in a new car review is out of order.
      The V6 version I never see in Denmark is the Peugeot 406 – I may have seen one with its italic V6 badge on the front wing. They otherwise are identical to the L4 cars.
      Opel didn´t seem to go in for obvious engine labels so I can´t tell if there are/were many Vectra V6s from the same time.

    2. The V6 was not a great unit in non-ST guise: less than 150bhp and not particularly smooth or overly torquey. Emissions based road taxation killed whatever demand there was stone dead.

    3. Is this V6 the same one?
      I will take your comments with a pinch of Maldon. Having looked about the world wide web, I found material supportive of the view that the V6 had some good attributes. Unavoidably fuel economy is not going to be as good as a smaller engine. I don´t consider the fuel figures a real demerit. It´s par for the course. I will probably never own one – sad to say – but I really would like a V6 of this type. That was part of the appeal of the 604. And the straight six on the Senator made it a very charming machine.
      My father in law wanted a replacement car and I directed him to the 406 V6. He went for the 1.8 and given the miles he ended up doing that was a good idea. Still.

  2. I do lament the passing of 6 cylinder examples of ‘mainstream’ saloons/ estates/ hatches’. I quite fancied the likes of the V6 Insignias, Superbs, Mondeos, 407s, Passats, and, of course, an H6 in a Legacy, but now they are nowhere to be found in the latest versions of such cars. Oh, and I’d prefer an R32 Golf to today’s R version, any day, all day long.

    I read some article somewhere not long ago describing the V6 as the worst of engine formats – I really struggle with that …

    1. It wasn’t that site called DTW, was it? Having looked into the matter a little, I discoved L6 and V6 each have plusses and minuses. What matters is the application. A FWD V6 is probably a good compromise.

  3. I don’t doubt the virtues of a great V6, but the Duratec was never a particularly fine example. Jaguar made a good fist of smoothing away the worst of its NVH and coaxing more power from the lump, but it was always thirsty. Other manufacturers made nicer sixes and the Volvo/Ford 5 cylinder was smoother, more powerful and characterful.

    1. That’s all probably true. I can’t pretend to be a V6 connoiseur. Any V6 would do me. I notice Ford seemed to tie the V6 more closely to a trim level than, say, Peugeot, Opel or Renault.

    2. My experience of the Duratec V6 is vicarious: a friend owned one of the unicorn non-ST Mondeo V6s. It was quite the Q-car, being the particular shade of maroon that Ford painted a lot of base Mondeos. I once quizzed him about the engine over a few pints and he gave me a fair summation of its merits and demerits. Overall he liked the car a great deal, his opinions bolstered by the relative pittance required to buy it in the first place. Unfortunately that hit him on the flip side, with him selling on what had been a reliable vehicle in good condition for a paltry £800. For that sum I did think about picking it up myself, but I’d just signed a three year lease.

  4. Given my experiences with two very similar V6s in two very different card, I’d dismiss the notion of V6s as generally ‘thirsty’ and strongly support Richard’s statement about the application that matters. With a smooth driving style and predominantly motorway use my Xantia V6 averaged on 8.5 l / 100 km which is a very good value given its performance. I doubt that I’d have done significantly better with a 1.8 or 2 litre (and the fun, including the acoustic portion, was definitely worth the small surplus). Now the same engine in the heavy C6 with its automatic gearbox is a completely different story, and even more so if it would be used in city traffic or in the mountains.

    1. The Xantia V6 leapt to mind as I wrote my last post: a smallish car with a biggish engine. That’s a bit like the 156? Both of those needed a small V6. The 2.0 V6 would have been appropriate for both, given their front driviness.

    2. I thought the 3 litre was, hmmm… adequate. I didn’t experience a lot of traction problems with that, probably also helped by the high weight on the front wheels. But a lighter V6 unit with, say, 2 litres capacity (probably turbocharged) would certainly have improved the handling in tight corners.

      Actually the Xantia is quite small (especially by today’s standards), but weighed about the same as an equivalently equipped XM.

    3. No doubt the V6 provided plenty of power. Ideally there’d be both options: a large V6 for low-rev cruising and a small V6 to satisfy engine nerds.
      That the Xantia weighs about the same as the XM says a lot about the XM’s lightness. It helps the driver to feel less inertia. I dislike that “fat suit” feeling usually.

    4. I bought into the ‘small V6’ hype, until I owned one (briefly). Some years ago I got it into my head that a cheap-ish Eunos 500 (Xedos 6) would make an attractive and fun daily runner. It was a bad idea for a number of reasons and I almost immediately regretted it (including an unpleasantly uncomfortable offset driving position and cheap-feeling trim), but one of the most important was the characteristics of the 2.0 six itself. There’s no question it lived up to its billing in terms of smoothness, but its reputation as a torqueless wonder preceded it, which meant it was far more of a chore to drive than it really should have been. Perhaps a manual might have helped, but even so, I can’t really say I much buy into the advantages of a six for anything that small in capacity over any decent multivalve four.

    5. Mazda’s small sixes always intrigued me, especially the 1.8 litre in the MX3. When the Xedos appeared I thought it was the sort of car a Jaguar Mark 2 successor should be – a pity in reality it sounds so disappointing. My Mondeo’s 2.5 V6 was quite turbine like but, although acceleration was smooth and rapid, it never felt particularly torquey. It probably best suited the auto that mine had.

  5. I owned a Mondeo V6 and have driven a Xantia V6. I agree with Simon that the Citroen made an (unexpectedly) nice sound. The Mondeo’s sound was more discreet. Both cars were as effortlessly fast as you really need that sort of car to be and, having driven them, it does tend to spoil you when confronted with something fitted with a tarted up diesel or a clever but busy 3 cylinder.

    I think the description SV quotes of a V6 being the ‘worst’ format is from a theoretical engineer’s perspective, and is arguably true, though I think a V7 might be even worse. But since there are some very nice to drive V6’s out there it seems that non-theoretical engineers have managed to overcome any shortcomings.

  6. I have dallied in the past with the idea of picking up a 3.2 V6 Alfa 159. They represent solid value on the used car scene. Maybe I will revisit the idea when the lease is up.

  7. It´s a bit disappointing to hear small V6s are so lacklustre. So, what are they supposed to do, in a perfect world? Is it smoothness? Power delivery? Lightness for a given power output? I am not clear on this. I imagine that if you had, say, a V16 in a 0.5 litre engine the friction losses would be huge. Is this slightly true of a 2.0 V6 – that there is more friction for six cylinders than for four?

    1. Holding other factors constant that is true. Of course in engineering it’s never quite that simple, but broadly speaking the advantages of a small-capacity six over an equivalent-capacity four are (in theory) greater smoothness and refinement, since there are 50% more cylinders firing per crank rotation to smooth out the delivery. The downsides are generally regarded as packaging and cost – fairly obviously, a spec like the Eunos’ (24 valves, six pistons and conrods, four camshafts, dual cylinder heads) is more expensive to manufacture than a simple in-line twin-cam 16V four, not just in greater material cost but longer assembly time. Moreover, a small V6 is not so much shorter than a four that it is easier to package, especially when a given platform of this type will invariably be engineered to take a transverse four in some form anyway. Servicing and maintenance is also noticeably more expensive on a transverse V6 (more labour, more spark plugs, more of everything, etc).

      But the other point about more cylinders for a given capacity is that the displacement of each individual cylinder will necessarily be less. A typical 2.0 four from this period was usually around square or perhaps slightly undersquare, so mid-range torque is generally reasonable-to-good. But most small-capacity sixes are generally quite oversquare (as indeed the Eunos was), because if you’re going to the effort of making one, what’s the point unless you exploit the better potential smoothness with a willingness to rev? And that dual small-bore, short-stroke layout tends to make them torque-deficient and tiring to drive in traffic, as well as thirsty. The bottom line is that small-capacity sixes just don’t make a lot of sense for most people’s normal use patterns. Of course this makes them interesting for car nerds, but then the overlap between those two groups is frequently defined by their failure to coincide in any meaningful way.

  8. So, what if one adds a turbocharger or a supercharger? More cost, I expect.
    I’m surprised these engines end up with short stroke arrangements. There are six cylinders so that should (he guesses) allow for lower rpm?

    1. For a given capacity, and notwithstanding extra friction losses, more cylinders tend to allow for higher peak rpm since each cylinder has less reciprocating mass. The flip side is why 2.5 litres is regarded as around the maximum practical capacity for a four with characteristics acceptable to most customers – much past that and you start to get into issues around too much reciprocating mass, ever-weightier balance shafts which suck an increasing amount of power, need for a strengthened (read heavier) block, inefficiency in the combustion process, etc.

    2. I’d noticed that 2.5 litres formed a limit for four pot engines. And 2.5 litres is the start point for sixes. Have you noticed that American fours are usually/often/commonly 2.5 litres? They could be sixes, couldn’t they?

    3. They could be, but aren’t, because:

      1) They are typically the entry-level engines for D-segment cars;
      2) The extra cost of making a six is wasted when a four is more than adequate – arguably better-suited than a six for the intended role – and profit margins are very tight;
      3) Making a V6 standard means it’s harder to persuade people to pay extra for a more powerful engine (invariably, a larger-capacity V6).

  9. The 1968 model Taunus P7 got a 1.8 litre V6 which only gave 7bhp more than the 1.7 litre V4. I wonder how many opted for it, rather than the 2.0 or 2.3. It was probably a tax thing – it usually is.

    There was a burst of small V6 activity in the UK around the turn of the century, with the Rover 75 (2.0 KV6) and Jaguar X Type (2.1 litre AJ-V6, front wheel drive only). The unhappy Rover really needed a decent 2.0 petrol four, and neither Rover nor BMW had such a thing at the time, the T-series having been dropped with the customary excuse of ’emissions reasons’.

    I can’t see small V6s coming back in the post-diesel era. Hybrids will provide the extra power and refinement which buyers expected from six cylinders. It’s got to be better than the incongruity of a compression ignition engine hammering away under the bonnet of a luxury saloon or sports coupe.

  10. Did that Taunus V6 go on to power Sierras? I know there was a 2.0 V6 4×4 Sierra for lhd markets.
    I did a small item on small V6s two or three years ago. I missed the 1.7 Ford but managed to not the Sierra’s.

  11. The 1.8 V6 was one of the ‘Cologne’ family, so went into Granadas, Sierras and even the Ford Explorer.

    The small capacity engine was a bit of an oddity, as the engine family was designed to have a capacity of 2.3-2.6 litres. There was plenty of ‘stretch’ allowed as the 4009cc Explorer engine had bore and stroke dimensions of 100.4mm x 84.4mm. The 1.8’s dimensions were 80.0mm x 60.14mm.

  12. A six cylinder with the same capacity as a four, say 2.5 litres, has two more sets of piston rings hammering up and down, plus extra bearings. So friction is necessarily higher, because cylinder volume is proportional to the bore squared, but rubbing surface of rings is directly proportional to bore. No matter how you slice it, fiddle with bores and strokes etc., this is a truism, and since rings apparently count for about 40 percent of total friction in an engine, a small six will be less fuel efficient than the equivalent capacity four. In these days of squeezing every bit of efficiency out of an engine, small sixes are out for that reason alone. It’s also why we are about to be beset with a Volvo 3 pot to augment the MINI’s 3 pot 1.5 litre. Lower the losses! By 25%! And the smoothness gap is made up to a certain extent by grandiose engine mounts, some fluid filled, others actually powered to inhibit engine vibration from making it to the body.

    Long stroke engines of the same cubic capacity as a shorter stroke engine with bigger pistons are not intrinsically more torquey. Capacity of a cylinder and the quantity of mixture define torque production – these things aren’t doing 1 rev/sec in a graphic .gif illustration, but dozens of revolutions. The increased bore of a short stroke engine is exactly compensated for by the longer stroke in a small bore engine IF the capacity is the same. It’s fundamental fourth form physics. Yet, the same old rancid wives’ tale and reputation about long stroke engines being more torquey is completely ruined by the Honda four cylinder engines of up to about six years ago. They were all long stroke in the cooking engines since 1973, but everyone knew that drove one that low end torque was entirely missing. You had to rev the nuts off them to get anywhere. The reason was that Honda placed no importance on low speed torque, and the induction arrangements and cam profiles reflected their priorities. By contrast, the asthmatic old BMC long stroke chuffers that went into cars from the fifties to the eighties had abysmal intake arrangements, and liked to work best at lower revs.

    You cannot just look at stroke length in assessing torque in a given capacity cylinder, because the smaller piston area exactly compensates for the longer stroke. At 3,000 rpm it’s thermodynamics not stroke length that has any meaning, but the long stroke engine experiences more friction and hence losses at a given rpm due to its higher average piston speed. However, it seems that if you can LIMIT rpm by turbocharging to get the torque you require and thus minimize friction, then the best thermal efficiency comes from an undersquare bore/stroke ratio of about 0.8 to 1. The new Honda 1.5 turbo is this way and is highly efficient in the real world.

    What I do like, as it bucks the trend, is the newish Ford 2.7 litre V6 twin turbo engine that accelerates the giant F150 pickup to 100 km/h in about six seconds, all 22oo galumphing kilograms of it. And it’s square to boot, 83 by 83 mm. To the best of my knowledge, it’s the smallest capacity six in volume production at the moment, and very smooth indeed. So, as with everything else, if you juggle all requirements with some imagination and wit, you can still produce a lovely smooth small six and make a hundred thousand of them a year.

    Now available in the Fusion Sport (Mondeo) and Edge Sport as well. A larger 3.0 version goes into Lincolns. No doubt Ford knew that they couldn’t sell the US public on some giant scratchy vibratory 2.7 litre omigod four, did you say FOUR cylinder engine Martha? in an American icon pickup. Unacceptable for the masses, who are still chary of V6s where in their minds V8s should reside as God intended. But a nice smooth small powerful V6 has thus become available for more car-like implementations as well.

    1. That would have made a very good article. You spelled a point I had only vaguely intuited, that if other things are equal, bore and stroke cancel; that small V6 are beset by friction loss.
      So, why not a standard cylinder capacity of 0.5 litres – isn’t it heading that way?

    2. This won’t be in the Euromondeo, the 2.7 v6. The uptake would be small yet how hard would it be to offer it? Ford has a large enough base of fans to sell a few hundred every month, maybe more.

    3. Bill: Terrific stuff. Always interesting to hear the technical background. My own experience of a three pot Ford is only positive. Yes there are additional vibrations, but NVH is well managed and indeed adds much needed character. The 1.6 four pot I tried at the same time sounded like a hair dryer by comparison.

      Richard: I know a few people who would be interested in a V6 Mondeo, especially offered with 4WD as per the Fusion. Recent changes to road tax removing the favouritism bestowed upon diesels will take time to shake through company fleet options, however. And I cannot see it selling in sufficient numbers in the UK for Ford to justify setting up right hand drive production, either in the US where V6 Fusions are produced, or in Spain where RHD Mondeos are produced.

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