The start point for the best source of fleet information
The closure of Ford's Genk plant in Belgium had major repercussions for the Mondeo, delaying its introduction to the UK by more than a year and allowing premium German brands to march further ahead in the lower medium segment.
While many volume brands have retreated entirely from launching saloons in the UK, Ford and Volkswagen's new Passat (see page 27) are still battling it out for a chunk of the corporate market not taken up by BMW, Audi and Mercedes.
However, the potential sales slice for Mondeo has shrunk massively, from a high of 100,000 sales at its peak to a planning estimate of 17,000 units a year for this new model.
Not only is the Mondeo competing against premium rivals, but it's also looking at a very fragmented market, with customers moving away from saloons to crossovers, SUVs and people carriers outside and within its own model line-up.
Mark Ovenden, chairman and managing director, has a clear plan for Ford's saloon challenger, with short-cycle rental business capped at 15% of sales, 58% earmarked for true fleet business, and the remainder going to retail customers and Ford's internal demos. If the firm can increase Mondeo sales closer to 20,000 in a year, that market segmentation strategy will remain in order to protect residual values.
While the Passat is going for an all-diesel strategy in the UK, the Mondeo will get a wider choice of engines, with customers able to a pick from a range of petrols, diesels and a new 99g/km CO2 hybrid. The breadth in the range is there for choice, but Ford admits 92% of sales will be with a diesel engine, while the 180hp 2.0-litre in Titanium trim will take the majority of sales. Its CO2 output of 115g/km makes running costs competitive at 54p per mile with a monthly BIK of £77.
The US influence on the Mondeo's design is clear to see and this might be a bit too much for some (Ford has already been selling this car as a Fusion for more than a year in the States). It's certainly the most striking Mondeo since it launched back in 1993 with its imposing grille and clamshell bonnet. Ford admits that if the Mondeo wasn't developed as a global product under One Ford, it would have been difficult to justify the level of investment needed to produce something competitive against rivals.
There hasn't been a massive shift in how the Mondeo handles in comparison with its predecessor. It still has a tight set-up, which has been tweaked specifically for European roads with a customised electronic power-steering system. The handling is still sharp and points in the direction you'd like with minimal fuss or body roll, and it's even fun on twisty roads if you want to push it a little harder. The 180hp from the diesel is fine, if a little reluctant to push through the power delivery until further up the revs, and more than adequate for eating up some motorway miles though.
Interior quality is at a good level on the Titanium with soft-touch plastics, all with a high fit and finish, but it still doesn't stand up to the best German rivals can offer (that will be left to the luxury Vignale Mondeo next year).
Like the Focus, the Mondeo gets Ford's Sync 2 technology, which overhauls the way drivers interact with the infotainment system, separating functionality into four areas on the touch-screen. It's one of the biggest improvements over the previous model.
While Ford made much of the safety technology features on the new Mondeo such as lane-keeping assist, park assist and pre-crash, these are now expected on this size of car, so it's nothing remarkable. However, the Mondeo will be available with inflatable rear seat belts for £175 and this is a first for the segment. Satnav is available on lower trims for £300, which is quite reasonable in comparison with some manufacturers.
While the Mondeo can't compete with a BMW 3-series on the badge or handling, the pricing and spec work in Ford's favour, and there's no doubt as a whole that drivers choosing this car have a competent package on their hands. The standard specification on the Titanium model compares well against lower-spec premium rivals, with the BMW 320d Luxury £1247 more expensive.
However, the middle market is a difficult place to be and this plan to pack in tech features at a lower price suddenly makes Ford look as if it's using Japanese tactics to stand out - which begs the question, is the Mondeo as still relevant?
Model price range
Service, maintenance and repair
Vehicle Excise Duty
Cost per mile
BIK 20/40% per month
Boot space (min/max)
Distinctive, and competitive costs, but premium rivals still ahead