Ford Mondeo 1.5 GTDI EcoBoost | Small Heart, Run Free

BY Azfar Hashim

Ford’s new 1.5-litre Mondeo promises everything you would need in a large family car… and more

Photos by Azfar Hashim

Last century, Ford rocked the world with the Focus. Their recipe was simple: Build a hatchback that could carry two towns, give an engine that revs willingly and most importantly, endow the car with brilliant handling. It became a highly awarded car worldwide; and even in Singapore it performed well.

But of course in true Singaporean style, the sedan still outsold the hatchback 3:1.

Even the Mark 2 Focus sold well; be it in hatchback, sedan or wagon guises, the Focus made it into every corner of this tiny little dot.

The rest, however, remained a not-so-good history. Because along came Volkswagen with their Golf and Jetta together with (a) their force-fed powerplants and fancy dual-clutch transmission, (b) a price tag that wasn’t far off and also (c) practicality that matched the Focus. The new kid on the block became the new best-selling European make, Ford couldn’t compete and they just disappeared into the background.

Ahh… Such is life.

Well lately the brand has been introducing a slew of new and updated models — this year alone we saw the arrival of the new 2.0-litre Ford Mondeo and updated 1.6-litre Focus. Also, the Kuga compact SUV arrived with a smaller engine in its attempt to lure buyers looking at the highly popular 1.5-litre HR-V/Vezel and 1.2-litre turbocharged Qashqai.

But in my humble opinion, this new variant of the Mondeo family deserves extra attention. It’s the latest to receive the ‘small-engine-in-big-body’ treatment: Under the bonnet is a 158 bhp, 240 Nm 1.5-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder heart.

Excuse me as I sidetrack a little. We’ve been seeing such concept successfully implemented in models like the Golf, Jetta, 308, Astra and Cruze, so it’s no real surprise to see Ford introducing to their models; in fact, it’s about — excuse the language - bloody time because small, naturally-aspirated engines are slowly becoming passé. You can’t put a Focus next to a Golf, 308 and Astra together in a straight-line sprint; when the other three are already at the finish line, the Focus is probably just leaving the starting line. A little exaggeration here, but you should know what I’m getting at…

Now back to this review proper. At this point, you readers are already familiar with the Mondeo, and so to not bore you lets just cut to the chase: I am very sure the question on your mind is, ‘Can this car even move?’

The answer is, despite the almost 1.5-tonne kerbweight, a resounding yes. Firstly although Ford stuck on to a more conventional 6-speed torque-converter ‘box, power delivery is respectably smooth and quick — one point to note is also how shift-shocks between ratio swaps are near non-existent.

However to not sound as if Ford paid me to say nice things, you could still feel a hint of weight struggle and slight turbo lag at initial move off. Once it past 2,000 rpm though, the Mondeo accelerates towards its 6,500 rpm redline effortlessly and in a fashion that could, potentially, give hot-hatches a hard time. I'm also glad to report in stop-go town traffic, it covers ground quick enough to prevent other sneaky drivers from cutting you off.

550-litres worth of bootspace that expands to 1,466-litres with the rear seats folded

550-litres worth of bootspace that expands to 1,466-litres with the rear seats folded

Out on the expressway, the Mondeo proved to be a highly refined cruiser when you decide to stick to the center lane at legal speeds — cabin is properly insulated against unwanted noise (wait - tyre roar remains present) and the sound system is rather spiffy for a car in this class. Clearly Ford wants to impress potential buyers with their attention to details.

In true Ford tradition, ride and handling remains sharp although the Mondeo is a large car. You can throw it hard down twisty roads and even take sharp corners faster than usual; besides the 16-inch rubbers screaming as it reaches its limit, you can feel the entire chassis vehemently hugging the road with the steering delivering real time information to your hands and senses. Heck, switch off the traction control and entertain yourself with some Scandinavian flicks — something the Passat will never be able to deliver.

Cabin wise, there’s pretty much nothing to fault Ford. Besides the solid build quality that should outlast its COE lifespan, this Titanium (Ford speak for top spec) version comes fitted with a comprehensive list of standard equipment — electric driver’s seat, powered tail-gate, parking sensors, reverse camera, cruise control, Bluetooth and auxiliary slots, paddle-shifters and Ford’s Sync system, just to name a few. A panoramic glass roof comes standard as well, but in my opinion, I would rather forego this one feature and shave off another $6k - $8k off the price tag; do you need such an item in a climate like ours?

At the end of the day, it all comes down to the price. Listed at $159k, it definitely is slightly pricier than the $155k 1.8-litre Passat that is equally feature-packed and less thirsty.

But if you’re not after a badge and still want an entertaining car to drive when you’re all alone, hey, then this Mondeo is the clear solution.