I can’t remember if burning at the stake was at all common ten years ago – probably not, now I think about it – but if it had been it would almost certainly have been done to anyone who suggested that such a thing as the Mondeo 1.5 TDCi ECOnetic might ever exist.
The Mondeo is, by most standards, a very large car, sixteen feet long by six wide, easily capable of carrying four tall adults with above-average carbohydrate intake and more than 500 litres’ worth of luggage. It would therefore be reasonable to assume that, if you owned one, you’d be paying a good deal of tax, not only on all the fuel you were using but on the fact you were using so much of it.
Well, no. In fact, this particular Mondeo averages nearly 80mpg on the EU test cycle, and officially emits just 94g/km of CO2, which means you don’t have to pay any Vehicle Excise Duty. A decade ago, these figures would have been considered striking for a supermini. For something the size of a Mondeo, they would have been considered impossible.
How has it become possible now? Several reasons. Most notably, there’s the little 1.5-litre diesel engine, which produces a maximum of 118bhp. This isn’t much for a car weighing nearly 1500kg unladen, so don’t expect to get anywhere in a tearing hurry, and the sound effects aren’t too subtle, with lots of rattling going on most of the time.
On the plus side, though, it’s difficult to make the TDCi unit use much fuel. I averaged over 50mpg even though, for reasons which would only bore you, the test car was sitting at idle for long periods, and therefore averaging precisely zero mpg at those times. Without that, I’d probably be telling you I’d managed 53mpg or more. The delivery driver, who is not directly employed by Ford, assures me he achieved 74mpg on a long motorway run, and I believe him.
(One negative aspect of all this is that the ECOnetic isn’t much use for towing. Its limit with a braked trailer is just 400kg, a figure beaten by nearly every model in the Fiesta range. If you want to use a Mondeo as a towcar, don’t buy this one.)
The engine isn’t the only reason for the impressive economy statistics. The wheels and tyres play their part too. Mondeo Zetecs normally have 17″ wheels as part of a specification which also includes satellite navigation, DAB digital radio, cruise control, dual-zone air-conditioning and, as is right and proper, a space saver spare wheel rather than one of those foolish tyre repair kits.
The ECOnetic differs from the Zetec norm only that it runs on 16″ wheels and tyres with relatively large sidewalls. In terms of fuel usage and CO2 emissions, this is a bonus. The ECOnetic’s economy would still be impressive if it used 17s, but less impressive than it is now.
Previous experience suggests that the 16s should also make the car enjoyable to drive; no Mondeo I’ve ever driven, other than performance-oriented ones, has ever ridden or handled worth a damn if fitted with anything larger. Unfortunately, while this one is fine on smooth roads, it patters badly over small bumps, and through the twisty stuff it handles like a Focus that woke up this morning to find that it had doubled in weight overnight and hasn’t had time to adjust.
Blame for this must surely fall on what Ford describes as the car’s “sports” (say what now?) suspension. It is not in the least sporty, and makes the ECOnetic far less comfortable than a low-powered Mondeo should be.
Still, there’s all that space, and those low running costs, and a generous amount of equipment, and a comfortable interior, all of which can be yours for several thousand pounds less than you might spend on a high-spec Focus. Bearing all that in mind, I reckon the Mondeo ECOnetic is a good car, and if it rode better it would be a very fine one.
Engine size 1499cc
Top speed 119mph
0-62mph 11.7 seconds
Fuel economy 78.5mpg combined
CO2 emissions 94g/km
Towing capacity 400kg (braked)
Euro NCAP (2014) Overall 5 stars Adult occupant 86% Child occupant 82% Pedestrian 66% Safety assist 66% (Estate tested)
Information correct at publication date