Flashback to 2013. The all new Ford Fusion was launched in the North American market to rave reviews. Its styling, in particular, was generally well liked, especially the front end with the new Ford corporate design language, dubbed Kinetic 2.0. This styling had made its début on the Ford Evos concept car of 2011, which heavily influenced the design of the Ford Fusion. I have to admit, I didn’t initially fall in love with it, as it was quite a radical departure from the more conservative designs that had preceded it. But I remained interested in what the Fusion offered, knowing that its European cousin, the Mondeo, would soon be released. So I began the quest to find every review of the new Fusion on YouTube. Suffice it to say, I started liking the Fusion more and more, and longed for the release of the Mondeo.
Upon the Australian launch of the Mondeo, I went to have a look for myself, and was immediately impressed with what I saw. The car looked stunning, and to my eyes at least, it remains one of, if not the best looking car in the medium car segment. The glasshouse and the rear of the car is a clever evolution of the MA-MC series Mondeo that had preceded it, while the Aston Martin inspired front end works very well with the Mondeo Titanium. Coming from a BF Fairmont, which I have reviewed several months ago on this site, what I found to be particularly impressive with the Mondeo was the quality of the interior. Sure, there are still cheap plastics if you look hard enough, and the design is somewhat conservative, but the overall impression is that of a much more premium car, with lashings of soft-touch plastics and good quality leather, as well as doors that close with a solid ‘thunk’ that makes the car look and feel more expensive than it is. I can say with some conviction that the new Mondeo is the most premium feeling car that Ford has ever put on sale in the Australian market.
I took delivery of my Mondeo Titanium Ecoboost, in pearlescent White Platinum Tri-Coat paint, in May 2016. It comes standard with almost all the technological gadgetry I could possibly want. The only option box I ticked, aside from the paint ($550 extra), was the 18-inch 10 twin-spoke alloys ($1,551 extra) to replace the standard 18-inch 20-spoke rims. The wheels I really wanted – the 19-inch 5 twin-spoke alloys that are now available on the Mondeo Titanium, sadly weren’t available at the time of purchase. I intend to upgrade to those 19-inch rims as soon as I can afford them, though.
Aside from the usual safety features such as AEB, ESC, TC, lane keeping and blind spot monitoring, the feature-packed top of the range Titanium comes standard with 10 way power adjustable front seats with three position memory for the driver, power-adjustable steering column with rake and reach adjustment, with an ‘Easy Access’ feature that slides the driver’s seat back and raises the steering column after the ignition is switched off to allow easy egress. There’s also an 8-colour ambient lighting system which emits a soft glow at night in the front and rear foot wells, front door pockets, front centre console and interior door handles, reverse dipping mirrors, power-fold exterior mirrors, auto dimming interior mirror and driver’s side wing mirror, and heated driver’s side mirror. Furthermore, there’s a heated windscreen, heated front and rear seats, inflatable outer rear seatbelts that inflates to twice its width in the event of a collision to lessen the force exerted on the wearer, and a part-digital instrument cluster. Completing the premium look of the car is a panoramic glass roof, and dynamic LED headlights that swivel to aid vision around corners, along with ‘scrolling’ LED front indicators.
Curiously, the lack of air conditioned seats is a notable omission. I’m left to wonder why Ford Australia had chosen to equip the Mondeo heated front and rear seats without also including a cooling function, especially in the warm climate that we have here in Australia, and given that cooled seats are available as an option in the North American market Fusion. Other notable omissions are a hands-free tailgate that made its début in the Kuga, and a remote-start feature that is available in the Fusion.
So, with all this technology, does it all work? Mostly. I have yet to test AEB, ESC and TC for reasons that should be obvious. They’re technology that you hope you never have to rely on. The lane keeping assist does its job of steering the car away from the lane markings if the driver is to stray too close, but it does not position the car into the centre of the lane by itself. The driver has to make a steering input to position the car in the centre of the lane. Failure to do so will result in the system prompting the driver to keep their hands on the steering wheel. The system falls short of the state-of-the art (at the moment) tech that is available in most luxury cars. This is not a system that will do the steering for the driver, even for a moment.
The Adaptive Cruise Control can sometimes be too eager to apply the brakes if a car cuts into the lane in front, instead of gradually slowing down to match its speed. Worse still, it can apply the brakes while going through a bend in the road, as it can be tricked into thinking that the car ahead is directly in front and within the pre-set following distance, albeit that due to the curvature in the road, it’s actually in the next lane. Perhaps that is my own fault for setting the ACC’s following distance to just one bar, giving the car less time to react if another car was to cut into the space between my car and the car in front. While I feel that there are some issues to be ironed out, it never behaves unpredictably, and I have learnt when to deactivate the cruise control and control my speed manually if I think the system is going to slow the car suddenly – such as if another car was to cut into the space in front of my car.
The other bugbear with the Mondeo’s suite of technology is the Pre-Collision Warning system, which flashes bright red LEDs positioned on top of the dash and sounds a rather loud chime when it thinks it has detected an imminent collision. On some rare occasions, the Pre-Collision Warning system gave me quite a fright when it sounded, although there appeared to be nothing ahead of me. In hindsight, it may have been a small bird attempting suicide by flying low across the bow of my car, though.
On the road, the Mondeo is a quiet, comfortable and refined cruiser. The cabin is very quiet at idle, while at highway speeds, the standard 235/45 R18 Continental ContiSportContact 5 tyres emit a drone which can be heard from the cabin. Not only that, they tend to wear quickly – I replaced the front set of tyres after only 25,000km. When it comes time to replace the tyres again, I will try a different tyre to see if it reduces cabin noise at highway speeds.
While I have yet to stretch its legs and take it on a long road trip, the big Mondeo is more than capable of performing the daily errands with little fuss. The 2.0-litre Ecoboost engine produces effortless low-end power, which punches the big Mondeo off the line deceptively quickly, while the six speed automatic smoothly changes through the gears, all with the minimum of fuss. When overtaking, the box promptly kicks down to make use of the Mondeo’s relatively flat torque curve – its 345Nm maximum torque is delivered from 2300rpm all the way to 4900rpm. The Ecoboost engine may have the same capacity as a bottle of milk, but it behaves very much like a bigger engine with heaps of low-end power on tap, and a fairly flat torque curve. Performance wise, there’s very little between my 2.0-litre Mondeo and my 4.0-litre Fairmont. I haven’t put timing equipment in them, but seat of the pants impression is that the Fairmont is marginally quicker in a standing start, but it’s the turbocharged Mondeo by a mile in rolling starts.
The price to pay for that performance, however, is fuel consumption. Despite the claimed 8.5L/100km fuel economy, over the time that I have owned the car, using it on daily errands on a mix of highway and city driving, my average is around 9.5L/100km. Being a big, heavy car, it can be quite thirsty if used in stop-start traffic, or if you drive it like it’s stolen.
The electric power steering is accurate, if somewhat lacking in feedback, and with the adaptive dampers set to ‘Comfort’ – the softest of the three settings available (and my preferred setting), the Mondeo absorbs most of the bumps that the worst of Perth roads have to offer. Sharp bumps such as speed humps and pot holes can still send a jolt through the cabin, although the car is never unsettled. It remains composed and reasonably athletic for a car of its size, with little body roll to speak of. The ‘Sport’ setting firms up the steering and the ride, but it does so without any appreciable benefit in handling. That said, I have yet to push the car any more than, say, five-tenths. Maybe the benefits of the ‘Sport’ setting will become more evident if I were to push harder. In between these two is the ‘Normal’ setting, which, as its name suggests, is in between the ‘Comfort’ and ‘Sport’ settings.
Inside the lush cabin, the driving position and the front seats are both excellent. With 10-way power adjustment, I imagine it would be difficult not to find the perfect position for most people. That said, the thick A and B pillars, the relatively high waist line, and the high dash impair visibility somewhat. The A pillar can sometimes block the driver’s view of oncoming traffic at T-junctions and/or roundabouts. Parking in tight spots can be a challenge as well, but thankfully, the car is equipped with both front and rear parking sensors, as well as a reversing camera, which projects a reasonably clear image of the view behind the car. The resolution of the camera could be better, though. Unfortunately, while the reverse camera is engaged, it is not possible to use any other function on the Sync 2 infotainment system, including voice control. Despite being an older system, Sync 2 is very easy to navigate and use.
The seats are trimmed in what Ford assures me is genuine leather, although there are two noticeably different grades. The seat base and backrest, which is partly perforated, is trimmed in ‘Solerno’ leather – a softer, more supple leather than that used on the bolster, headrest, and the seat backs. Those latter areas are trimmed with a noticeably grainier ‘genuine’ leather. The back seats are also decent, with more than adequate knee room and toe room, although persons taller than my tiny 172cm stature might find rear headroom a bit tight in the panoramic roof equipped Titanium hatch. I guess that’s the price to be paid for a sleek, sloping roofline. The outboard seats in the rear bench get inflatable seatbelts, which are a little bit bulkier than the standard seatbelt and may take some getting used to. Like the front seats, the back seats are trimmed in a mix of two different grades of leather: the seat base and the backrest get Solerno leather, while the bolster and headrests get grainier ‘genuine’ leather. The rear centre seat misses out on Solerno altogether.
I mentioned earlier in this review about how impressed I was at the interior of the Mondeo. Unfortunately, the exterior is a different story. Panel alignment can be variable, and as far as I’m aware, mine isn’t the only car that suffers from this. Alignment may only be a few millimetres out, but it is noticeable. The worst issue that I have with my car is that there’s an approximately three millimetre gap between the right rear tail lamp and the rear bumper, when it should be flush. Attempts have been made by panel shops to fix the issue, and while there has been a definite improvement since it’s been in the panel shop, it still remains imperfect. But I’m not going to let three millimetres affect my enjoyment of the car, which has largely been positive.
In its sales brochure, Ford states that in creating the Mondeo, it had set out to “create a car that encapsulates the spirit of elegance without arrogance. Confidence without pretentiousness. And style with substance.” While the concept is sound, there’s definitely room for improvement in its execution.
The Mondeo Titanium is a luxurious, refined, comfortable highway cruiser that effortlessly eats up the long distances with ease, and despite its flaws, it remains one of the best in class for its combination of performance, refinement, comfort and handling, and to my eyes, is one of the best looking cars in this segment.