No, this is not a new sedan by Aston Martin – instead, it is Ford’s newest Mondeo
Photos: Azfar Hashim
Our market is full of large family sedans. For formality’s sake, lets take a quick look at the list: Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima K5, Volkswagen Passat, Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Chevrolet Malibu, Mazda 6, Nissan Teana, Opel Insignia, Peugeot 508 (which we reviewed previously) and Subaru Legacy; and to a certain extent, the Lexus ES250 as well.
Looking at this list, now you can’t help but beg this question: How on earth can the Mondeo fit in when there are already an extensive list of contenders vying for your money?
A little discouraging if I’m a Ford salesperson right now, but to be honest, the Mondeo has quite a few tricks up its sleeves.
I shall begin with the car’s exterior. To be honest, I could not see any sort of fault with the Mondeo’s aesthetic; it looks more mature than its predecessor, which is a good thing, and sure is more upmarket now. So the face resembles an Aston Martin’s, and you cannot stop wondering why the designers seem to lack ideas, but it somewhat grows on you – viewed from the front, it has this muscular stance with headlamps that stares down in yer face. The detailed front bumper along with the grill all work together as a whole. I don’t blame you still if you do not agree with me, but remember how Lexus first brought their radical new face with the ‘Spindle Grill’? It started with their GS, then RX, followed by ES and IS, now with the RC? Well, I think it would work the same way in Ford’s case – it will grow on you eventually.
Viewed from the side, it definitely shows off how lengthy this car is. At 4,871 mm long and with a wheelbase of 2,850 mm, it is properly proportionate and won’t look out of place even if you show up at a red carpet affair; you can just lie and say, “I showed up in a Aston Martin, mind you” and get away with it…
Joke aside, factually speaking the Mondeo has the second shortest length just after the Accord; but it has the longest wheelbase when compared to the other cars mentioned above. Heck, it even trumps the ES250 in this aspect.
Which then translates to a rather roomy cabin. Ford seems to provide a fair bit of glass area including a standard sunroof to give a good sense of airiness for all on board. That said however, headroom for slightly taller rear passengers were compromised in order to give the Mondeo a slightly sloping roofline; hence if you’re more than 1.75 meters tall, you either take the bus or just walk. Other than that, legs and shoulder room deserve praise.
The cockpit is impressively solid and ergonomically focused - pun intended - towards the driver; in fact, it has been a very long time since Ford has gotten a perfectly designed dashboard like this one. Every control button feels solid and tactile, and should be able to last the entire lifespan of its COE.
An 8-inch Sony TFT touchscreen multimedia head-unit is factory fitted, and the steering wheel - which could be a little smaller sized for Asian drivers – comes with controls for the audio system, Bluetooth and cruise control. Also worth mentioning here is how the multimedia system features voice control – you can use this to switch radio channels or make phone calls. Very thoughtful considering how our men in blue are constantly on the lookout for errant drivers who still chose to hold on to their phones while driving…
It has commendable boot space - both deep and wide with a helpfully low loading area, it should be able to pack in at least four travel bags without a hitch. Ford claimed a capacity of 550-litres with this one; on the other hand its nearest competitor, the Volkswagen Passat, still offers slightly more with 586-litres.
Now we get to what lies under the bonnet. With 237 bhp and 345 Nm available from 2,300 rpm (hot-hatch territory there), it gives off a sporty grunt and doesn’t seem to run out of breath – although only a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged powerplant, it has a strong powerband and will readily climb up to the 6,600 rpm redline at anytime. The 6-speed automatic, when left to run on its own, is so well calibrated that while driving down the expressway, has no problem keeping up with traffic ahead.
Then when the road opens up, a quick switch to the ‘+/-‘ manual selection mode reveals another side of the Mondeo – it’s a gem to drive, that I spent three-quarter of the time cogging the gear via the paddle shifts. By the way, it does the century sprint in 7.9 seconds – similar to the more expensive 520i.
Ho-hum, let us not forget Ford’s usual brilliant balance between ride and handling - the well-sorted chassis means you can hustle it through corners, safe in the knowledge that no nasty surprises await. It turns in sharply and retains a neutral stance, even when pushed hard through the tight stuff and sweeping corners along the Lim Chu Kang Road.
The steering feels much weightier, with feedback adequately delivered from the front two tyres. But like any other cars, there are some issues still – the steering has this strange habit of artificially correcting itself and on top of that, torque steer is present. The latter something you do not expect from a car in this class. Brakes have been given the much needed improvement – the previous model has this weird habit of lacking feel when worked hard, but with this new one, it provides more assuring bite which is useful at slowing down the car.
In a nutshell, the Mondeo is a car with many traits. It won’t look out of place during a business conference, is a useful family roundabout that will ferry a family of five without any problems and a sporty car that loves to be driven enthusiastically – all of that in one package. On top of that, it is also fitted to the brim with standard equipment, most notably are the LED headlamps with auto swiveling and leveling, collision warning systems, distance warning system (you tailgaters will hate this feature, I assure you) and a lane warning system that ensures you do not sway into another lane.
There are undeniably some bits of the car that you need to get used to and it isn’t the cheapest large sedan in the market (that title goes to the sub-$140k Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima K5). But with all that it offers, it’d be foolish to give this a miss.