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Now celebrating its 20th anniversary, the Ford Mondeo remains hugely relevant to a corporate market that still accounts for 85% of the model's sales.
However, a broadening range of vehicle sectors has impinged on its territory, while there's also an ongoing trend towards downsizing to consider, which means the lower medium Focus is Ford's biggest-selling fleet car. On top of that, Ford is involved in a constant race to keep up with rivals, notably the Vauxhall Insignia, but also premium brands such as the BMW 3-series and leftfielders including the Hyundai i40. And with the brand-new Mondeo due at the end of 2014, it's important for the brand to maintain sales of the current model, which Ford is hoping to do with fresh trim levels and ever-decreasing CO2 emissions.
The most fleet-friendly iteration of the updated range is a 115hp 1.6-litre Duratorq diesel engine emitting 112g/km - down from 119g/km - and offering an official 65.7mpg. However, it still doesn't beat the Insignia on CO2, which offers a recently launched and impressive 99g/km version. On the upside, a Ford spokesman told BusinessCar that its CO2 figure will drop further by the end of the year.
Ford has also launched two business-specific trims: the most popular, the Zetec Business Edition and the top-spec Titanium X Business Edition. The latter, as tested, offers 17-inch alloys, parking sensors, touchscreen satnav, leather seats and plenty more.
On the road, the 1.6-litre iteration is unremarkable only because Ford so consistently produces cars with good driving dynamics. As the least-powerful diesel, it feels a tad on the heavy side, but this is the only major criticism. There's enough power for motorways, while balanced steering and easy gear changes make the model equally satisfactory on less-predictable roads.
A big selling point of the Mondeo is its ample space. There is plenty of interior room for front and rear passengers, while the boot is huge at 528 litres (versus the Insignia's 500 litres). The interior is also extremely comfortable with encasing seats, decent plastics and intuitive control buttons.
Whole-life costs come in at 53.0p per mile, a whole 5p more than the 99g/km Insignia, with the latter's benefit-in-kind rate at 14% compare with the Mondeo's 17%. A premium rival, the BMW 316d SE is also likely to be considered, despite costing slightly more at 56.0ppm, while a similarly specced Hyundai i40 is less than the Ford at 51.5ppm.
The Mondeo continues to be an excellent proposition for fleets. However, as businesses - and people generally - downsize and look more closely at emissions, Ford needs to do more to keep up with the Insignia and a widening circle of rivals.
Ford Mondeo 1.6 TDCi 115 Titanium X Business Edition
Model price range
Still excellent, but needs to beat rivals' CO2
Still excellent to drive, but needs to beat rivals' CO2.