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The long-awaited 2015 Ford Mondeo has been launched at last, and its maker is confident of making a serious splash in a relatively static segment.

Launched to media this week but due in showrooms from the start of May, the new mid-sized Mondeo arrives some time after it premiered in the US as the Fusion, though only four months after going on sale in the UK. Ford Australia had planned a February 2015 launch until relatively recently.

This delay was a result of production issues caused by Ford’s decision to close the previous factory in Genk, Belgium and shift production of this model exclusively to Valencia, Spain.

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Put simply, the new-generation Mondeo is being pitched as the segment-leader in safety — it comes loaded to the gills with novel features such as airbags in the rear seatbelts — while offering a quieter driving experience and even more cabin space than its predecessor.

As such, the new Mondeo is being styled for Ford not just as an important model in terms of sales, but also as a “showcase car” for the brand, serving as a means to premiere several new technologies and demonstrating the latest and greatest features the company has to offer.

It also stands as the obvious long-term cover for the loss of the Falcon large sedan at the end of 2016, given its similar dimensions (albeit with a front-wheel-drive layout).

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The pitch:

Ford doesn’t talk specific sales targets, but says it is essentially exiting the fleet market and focusing on private buyers only. Its marketing may draw combative comparisons with the Toyota Camry, then, but its real target must surely be the Mazda 6, Subaru Liberty and Hyundai Sonata.

Each of this trio have either been replaced or significantly updated in recent times (in the case of the Mazda), and they, along with the imminent new-shape Toyota Camry due soon, and the new Kia Optima and Volkswagen Passat due late in 2015, will give the Ford a heck of a welcoming party.

And each of these models will also be fighting for a smaller piece of the pie, given the mid-sized passenger market continues to contract, down 1.5 per cent in a positive market.

Not that Ford will die wondering. The Mondeo range comes in three specification levels (Ambiente, Trend and Titanium), liftback sedan and wagon body styles, and a selection of three engines (two turbo-petrol and one turbo-diesel) matched as standard to six-speed autos. It remains front-wheel-drive only.

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The mechanicals:

This new model is longer than before — at 4871mm, the hatch is only 78mm shorter than a Falcon — but 25kg lighter. It’s stiffer in the body, has more sealing and is more aerodynamic, cutting cabin noise by 3dB.

The underpinnings, including suspension, are sufficiently changed for Ford to call them entirely new. It’s the first model for Europe and Australia to be built on Ford’s new global CD-segment platform, and debuts Ford’s new integral link rear suspension configuration.

Alongside the all-new platform and body structure (10 per cent stiffer), the Mondeo also features electric power-assisted steering for the first time. There’s also a torque-vectoring system for better handling, and new anti-roll bars.

There are two petrol engines offered, though both are ostensibly the same 2.0-litre EcoBoost turbo with subtle hardware and less subtle software differences.

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The entry car gets 149kW of power at 5300rpm and 345Nm of torque between 2700 and 3500rpm, and uses a claimed 8.2 litres per 100km on the combined cycle — not as efficient as some rivals, we’d note.

Variants further up the range get 177kW at 5400rpm and the same 345Nm, albeit across a wider rev band (2300-4900rpm), and more or less the same fuel economy. Both engines are matched to a six-speed automatic transmission.

You can also get a 2.0-litre TDCi turbo-diesel engine with 132kW at 3500rpm and 400Nm between 2000 and 2500rpm, with claimed fuel economy of 5.1L/100km. This engine is matched to a six-speed Powershift dual-clutch auto.

The petrols can tow a 1200kg braked trailer, while the diesel can manage 1600kg.

Euro-market 1.0-litre and 1.5-litre options are not on the radar, nor is a petrol-electric hybrid.

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Cabin space:

Update: Hatch versions come with a full-size spare wheel, wagons a space-saver. The wagon is actually 4mm shorter than the hatchback, which masquerades stylistically as a sedan.

With the rear seats up, the hatch (above) can store 557 litres to the roof, while the wagon (below) fits 712L. Flip the seats 60:40 and this figure grows respectively to 1356L and 1585L.

The difference between the roof-hinged hatch and a conventional sedan in terms of cargo capacity is particularly marked.

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Headline safety technology:

The Ford Mondeo is a tech leader for Ford, though it also covers the basics with a recently announced five-star ANCAP rating.

New technology includes the standard fitment of inflatable rear seatbelts in all variants, plus Ford’s Emergency Assist that dials 000 automatically in a bad accident. You can also get a programmable MyKey that allows you to limit the car’s parameters.

All variants also come with Trailer Sway Control for towing, and wagons get load-levelling suspension.

Mid- and top-spec versions get radar-guided adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist and low-speed autonomous braking (below 40km/h).

The flagship Titanium adds adaptive suspension and LED headlights, plus blind-spot monitoring, pre-collision assist with a pedestrian recognition system, Park Assist that parks the car with minimal driver input (both parallel and perpendicular), lane keeping assist and departure warning.

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Standard equipment by variant:

Ambiente (above):

  • SYNC2 with Emergency Assistance
  • Eight-inch Colour Touch Screen
  • Bluetooth with audio streaming
  • Natural language Voice Control for phone, music, climate and navigation controls
  • Satellite-navigation with ‘One Shot’ destination entry via Voice Control
  • DAB+, USB, RCA, SD Inputs
  • 16-inch alloy wheels
  • Front and rear parking sensors
  • Active grille shutters (diesel only)
  • Power heated mirrors
  • Follow-me-home lighting
  • Hill Launch Assist
  • Load-levelling suspension (Ambiente and Trend wagons only)
  • Electronic Park Brake
  • Cruise Control with speed limiter
  • Dual-Zone Climate Control
  • Leather steering wheel and gear shifter
  • Paddle gear-shifters
  • Cloth Seats
  • ISOFIX low child anchorages (rear seats)
  • Inflatable rear Seatbelts
  • Daytime running lights (DRLs)
  • Ford MyKey
  • Driver and front passenger airbags
  • Thorax and curtain airbags
  • Driver Knee Airbag
  • Trailer Sway Control

*Reversing camera to be added to standard equipment list from June production.

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Trend, in addition to Ambiente (above):

  • 17-inch alloy wheels
  • Dual exhausts
  • Puddle lights
  • Auto-fold exterior mirrors
  • Keyless entry
  • Adaptive Cruise Control
  • Lane Keeping Aid
  • Auto-dimming rear-view mirror
  • Push-button start
  • 10-Way Power Seats
  • Driver Seat Memory 
  • Heated front seats
  • Auto headlights
  • Auto high-beam
  • Rain-sensing wipers
  • Partial leather seats
  • Rear-view camera
  • Brake Limited Slip Differential (BLD+)
  • Active City Stop

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Titanium, in addition to Trend (above):

  • 18-inch Alloy Wheels
  • Front/side skirts
  • Power tailgate (wagon)
  • Adaptive suspension
  • Adaptive LED headlights
  • Dynamic Headlight Levelling
  • Panoramic roof (fixed on hatch, retractable on wagon)
  • Sports leather seats
  • Heated rear seats
  • Multi-colour ambient lighting
  • Scuff plates
  • Power reach/rake steering column
  • Aluminium pedal covers
  • LED DRLs
  • Blind Spot Detection
  • Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection
  • Enhanced Active Park Assist
  • Lane Keeping Aid + Assist (LKA)
  • Lane Departure Warning (LDW)
  • Driver Impairment Monitor (DIM)

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Pricing:

Pricing for the base Ambiente kicks off $1300 higher than with the outgoing LX, though the Trend is $450 cheaper than the outgoing mid-spec Zetec. The flagship Titanium starts $700 cheaper than the outgoing version.

The price of entry to the range is also $250 pricier than in the Mazda 6, while a number of other rivals scrape in below $30K. This fits with Ford’s mission to focus on private — not fleet — buyers, the company claims.

Ford tells us it expects the sales split between the variants to be almost one-third apiece. About 75 per cent of sales are expected to be hatches.

Pricing as follows (all figures do not include on-road costs):

  • Ambiente hatch 2.0 EcoBoost $32,790
  • Ambiente wagon 2.0 EcoBoost $34,640
  • Ambiente hatch 2.0 TDCi $36,790
  • Ambiente wagon 2.0 TDCi $38,640
  • Trend hatch 2.0 EcoBoost $37,290
  • Trend hatch 2.0 TDCi $40,490
  • Trend wagon 2.0 TDCi $42,340
  • Titanium hatch 2.0 EcoBoost $44,290
  • Titanium hatch 2.0 TDCi $47,490
  • Titanium wagon 2.0 TDCi $49,340

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