Can a four-cylinder wagon with more carrying capacity really knock the Holden Commodore Sportwagon of its current sales perch? Ford seems to think so.
By David Twomey
At the launch yesterday of the updated and revised MB model Mondeo range the Blue Oval executives were soundly touting the greater capacity of the Mondeo wagon as a serious challenger to the six-cylinder Sportwagon.
Ford Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Beth Donovan, made much to CarAdvice of the space inside the Mondeo, which sells in the medium car segment, stating that with the seats folded down there was 163 litres more space in the Mondeo wagon than in the Holden Sportwagon.
Does she think it’s a serious competitor for the Holden? “ Most definitely and you will see in our advertising that we are directly target those who currently buy the Sportwagon,” she told us.
It should also be said that Ford is targeting other wagons in the market including the Mazda6 and VW Passat.
Load carrying space of the new wagon 1005 litres with the rear passenger seats in the upright position, increasing to 2163 litres with the rear passenger seats folded flat.
Biggest question in most people’s minds will be how can a 2.3-litre, four-cylinder powered vehicle seriously tackle a V6 equipped one, although from next month the engine capacity difference will have narrowed to just 700 cubic centimetres.
The question many will ponder is just how good the 2.3-litre, producing 118kW and 208Nm will be with a load on board, and that’s a question we will answer for your in the near future, when we have more time with the entire new Mondeo range.
The real answer will come early next year when Ms Donovan will have the 2.0-litre TDCi diesel engine in the wagon range, providing 320Nm of smooth torque and 103Kw of power, coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission.
That engine is good, and how do we know, well we drove it on the launch in the hatch range of the new MB Mondeo.
For the moment the wagon is only available with a petrol engine due to supply demand for the diesel variant in other markets.
Ms Donovan explained to CarAdvice that Ford had the option of delaying the whole MB range launch until the diesel wagon was available or getting the vehicles to market now and adding the diesel as soon as it became available.
“Diesel is very much a part of our story, but we decided the Mondeo was too good a thing to remain our ‘best kept secret’ and we wanted to get it onto the market as soon as possible,” she said.
Fuel efficiency will be a major story for Ford with the Mondeo, the hatch and petrol wagons currently offer an very good 9.5 litres per 100 kilometres, while the diesel hatch turns in a claimed 6.5L/100km, and we saw exactly that on the trip computer during a drive over varied country roads and freeway on the launch drive.
Also new to the Mondeo range is the Titanium model, which is available only as a hatch, but offers both the petrol and diesel engines.
The Titanium is essentially the XR5 sports model with a slightly softer suspension set up and the ability to choose an engine other than the 2.5-litre, five-cylinder turbocharged unit.
Ms Donovan says this had been a repeated request from buyers, who liked the XR5 level of equipment and style, but couldn’t justify or didn’t want the sports engine.
She expects a lot of Titanium buyers to opt for the TDCi, which incidentally was a model in its own right in the MA Mondeo, but has now become an engine option across the range.
There’s currently no word of a Titanium wagon, but anything is possible, as just such a beast is offered in other markets.
Inside the Mondeo is a big car, despite its medium size classification, and it constantly begs the question amongst my colleagues of why this and the Falcon.
Ms Donovan defends the two different models as providing customer choice and also says some customers choose Falcon because of its greater towing capacity, although for our money we’d reckon most people would be happy with the 1200kg that the Mondeo can tow.
There’s also the question of, if the Mondeo Wagon is a Commodore Sportwagon competitor, then isn’t it also a competitor for Ford’s own Territory, which is also a Sportwagon competitor, and even the somewhat lacklustre Ford Falcon BF Mark III wagon.
Again Ms Donovan defends with the “customer will choose” argument, which does carry some water, but we think a lot more people are choosing to move back to the traditional wagons, especially from SUVs, and that could spell trouble for the already declining sales of the Ford Territory.
The MB Mondeo range certainly offers a lot more than its predecessor with the likes of Bluetooth and voice command being standard across the range, even on the base LX.
This is partly due to Ford chasing a different breed of business customer from the solid fleet buyers who currently keep the BF MkIII Falcon wagon alive.
These buyers want business use vehicles that offer such niceties as the aforementioned communication tools, both for easy of operation and because they see Occupational Health and Safety issues with not having them.
As well as seven airbags, there is ABS with EBD brakes, and Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Ford calls it DSC, across the range, and the Mondeo has a five-star safety rating from ANCAP.
The entire range also has cruise control and remote central locking, which means quite a lot of ‘fruit’ for the opening price of $31,990.
Top of the range models, such as the XR5, get adaptive cruise control, active driver assist, forward alert and collision mitigation technology, the stuff of much more expensive cars, until recently.
Certain to impress with the Mondeo range is the impressive driving dynamics, which also mean that the wagon feels no different to the hatch variants, the car feels remarkably agile, while the steering is well weighted and gives good feedback.
On the models with the optional sports suspension you’ll gain slightly sharper responses at the expense of some ride comfort, but the slightly softer settings in the Titanium make this barely noticeable.
There are automatic headlights on all models but the LX and the Titanium introduces Dynamic Headlights with swivelling low beam headlights and static cornering lights, while the XR5 gets bi-xenon headlights.
CarAdvice will bring you a complete appraisal of the new Mondeo range when we test the cars more extensive in the near future.
Pricing for the MB Mondeo range:
LX hatch, petrol, six-speed automatic, $31,990
LX wagon, petrol, six-speed automatic, $32,990
Zetec hatch, petrol, six-speed automatic, $36,990
Zetec wagon, petrol, six-speed automatic, $37,990
Zetec hatch, diesel, six-speed automatic, $39,990
Titanium hatch, petrol, six-speed automatic, $42,990
Titanium hatch, diesel, six speed automatic, $45,990
XR5 hatch, petrol turbo, six-speed manual, $44,990
This is the manufacturer's list price for the vehicle only.