2008 Ford Mondeo TDCi Review
“TDCi looks the goods, is cheap to run and offers plenty”
Drives well, Looks fantastic, Rides quietly, Safe & well appointed
Auto easily confused, Small boot opening, Climate Control weak
– by Matt Brogan
Last month I was lucky enough to review the brilliant Mondeo XR5 Turbo which you might recall I was quite fond of. But in fairness, most Mum and Dad buyers are looking for something a little more affordable when it comes to a family car.
Not that the XR5 isn’t exceptional value for money, far from it, but with petrol prices what they are these days, and the family budget stretched tighter than a drum, we all like to squeeze a little more mileage from our measly pay cheques. The answer: Mondeo TDCi.
Looks wise, it’s a pretty classy sedan and rather sleek for a family diesel. I mean look at it, you could easily mistaken it for a car twice the price, I can even see a hint of Aston Martin in those headlights. But really when all is said and done, it’s neat, well built and hardly boring, just the opposite of what an average family car usually is.
Step inside and it’s hardly Mum, Dad, and two point five kids either. In fact it’s more like a luxury European, but far easier to live with. For these reasons alone the Mondeo TDCi should almost be adopted in to the fold without a second thought, but it’s hardly worth owning if it’s going to eat up your budget now is it?
This is where things get better again. See, TDCi stands for Turbo Diesel Common-Rail Injection and although that sounds like fancy gibberish, what it translates to is a gutsy little four cylinder that won’t eat you out of house and home – that’s what teenage kids are for.
It works by using what Ford refer to as Duratorq Technology which basically consists of a variable geometry turbo charger, precision multi-point fuel injection, and double overhead cams to keep everything spinning along nicely. The idea is that with the exception of initial turbo lag (which, mind you, is very brief), the power is always waiting in the wings. Think of it as a friendly butler, just waiting to step out and serve.
Good news for the more frugal among us is that it also translates to better fuel economy. The ADR tests claim a combined average fuel economy of 7.3 litres / 100km which is (for once) easily achievable.
At first I thought the fuel gauge wasn’t reading. It didn’t move for nearly two days, and I feared I’d killed it somehow, but ever so slowly it began to run away from the northern end of the dial and as the trip computer testifies, a tank will see the 1,000 kilometre mark achieved with no sweat at all.
For a diesel it does drive really well and although not as fluid as a petrol, the handling is spot on, more than capable for the vehicle’s purpose. It rides quietly and comfortably, and stops with a surety you’d expect of German engineered car. Steering is very sweet, turn-in especially, and it has just the right level of road feel to keep you involved.
The only qualm I had with the vehicle’s drive as such was the auto box. It’s fine for ordinary driving and shifts with relative ease, until you start pushing it. Now sure, there’s sports mode and manual shift mode, but it’s really of very little use in a low revving diesel unless you’re towing or passing.
The six speeder is sometimes confused by stop-start traffic and will occasionally find itself in the wrong gear before quickly grabbing another. It’s not a huge deal and yes I am being picky, but the problem was exacerbated by high temperatures and stationary traffic (which coincidentally also confused the outside temperature gauge).
Speaking of temperature, the climate control also seems to struggle slightly with our sticky summer days. It’s not too bad over all, but does need to work hard to maintain cooler temperatures evenly throughout the large cabin. It also won’t allow more than five degrees variance between the two zones. But otherwise, is easy to use and is preferable in my opinion to the old dial technology.
So by now I bet you’re thinking “OK it goes well, cheap to run and it looks great, but what else do I get for my money”, my we ask a lot from our cars these days don’t we? Well here it is, the standard options list (deep breath).
Dual Zone Climate Control, Automatic Wipers, Automatic Headlights, One-Touch Power Windows (with Bounce Back function), Remote Access Flip Keys, Cruise Control, Trip Computer, Audio & Menu Controls on the steering wheel, Six Stack Sony CD Player with iPod connection, dozens of Storage Compartments, Power Adjusting Driver’s Seat with Lumbar Support, Capless Re-fuelling and Front & Rear Parking Sensors.
As if it’s not already enough, there are a few more goodies to pamper yourself with should you find the extra cash including integrated Bluetooth, an Electric Tilt / Slide Sunroof and very nice Alcantara Leather trim with Seat Heaters (fitted to our press car – worth the cash in my humble opinion).
Up the back, the low lipped boot is huge, a true surprise, and is flat all the way through making loading and unloading no bother at all. The 60/40 split fold seats are a nice bonus and although it is slightly limited by the smaller opening a sedan offers (as compared to the hatch) it isn’t a bother for everyday items and swallows a week’s worth of shopping with hectares left over.
Now all this pleasant motoring isn’t worth a cent if the car is going to kill you, so let’s run through why the Mondeo TDCi is as safe as houses (deep breath again).
Five Star Safety Rating, Seven Air Bags (Dual Front, Side, Curtain & Driver’s Knee), Side Intrusion Beams, Pedal Intrusion Prevention System, Seat Belt Pre-Tensioners, Dynamic Stability Control, Traction Control, ABS (with EBD), and Anti-burst Doors – all standard.
As far as family cars go, I don’t think you could do too much better for the cash. It covers all the bases and sure beats the six seat Kingswood we had when I was a kid! It’s great to drive, easy on the eyes, and gives you a stack of stuff for your dollar. What more could you ask for?