Hatchback was developed for Europe. Style is expected to account for 62% of UK sales

Hatchback was developed for Europe. Style is expected to account for 62% of UK sales

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Over three generations since 1993, Ford has sold over 1.4m Mondeos in the UK alone and the car is a staple of the D-segment 'user chooser' fleet driver. With the new model for 2015, redesigned bumper to bumper, the UK sales company is tweaking its approach.

Ford UK chief Mark Ovendon is grateful for this latest One Ford model. The amount of investment for a new model line on which the sun will never set - sales in UK, Europe, Russia, NAFTA (badged as the Fusion), Asia-Pacific, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, China - could not have been justified if this latest Mondeo was only to be sold in the European region.

Hence a vast model line - to the NAFTA Fusion's four-door sedan-only line has been added five-door hatchback and wagon (estate) body styles, one-, 1.5 and two-litre EcoBoost petrol engines with outputs from 125 to 240PS, 1.6- and two-litre diesels  (115 to 180PS) plus automatic transmission options for some.

Also waiting in the wings with the I3 one-litre petrol engine for early 2015 introduction, is an all wheel drive option for the 150PS and 180PS diesels plus a twin sequential turbocharged 210PS diesel.

D segment

Ford UK claims 6.8% of the D-segment which includes rivals such as the 'premium' BMW 3/4 series models (20.6%), Opel/Vauxhall's popular Insignia (13%), recently refreshed, as well as Volkswagen's Passat (8.3%), just redesigned to provide new competition. It's a tough crowd.

Ovendon said the UK sales company is focusing on longer cycle fleet sales (to user choosers who typically keep the car three years) rather than short-term rentals and had reduced its proportion of sales to the latter from 35-40% to 20%.

"We have rebalanced the business and our residual [values] are stronger as a result."

Stronger residuals also result in lower monthly lease costs for business users and private buyers on PCP plans.

About 90% of new Mondeos are expected to be diesels with the new hybrid - sedan only - accounting for just 3% (they're hoping for more) and petrols the rest. Following on from the previous range and other model lines, high-spec Titanium trim is expected to be the most popular (51%) followed by Zetec (43%). Body style split is forecast at 62% five-door hatchback, 35% estate and 3% hybrid sedan.

Prices range from GBP20,795 for an entry level Style to the GBP24,245 Titanium with GBP2,000 X-pack option which Ford is trying to position as a separate model in its own right.

All have SYNC2 telematics with a decent-size eight-inch touchscreen, alloy wheels, digital radio, EasyFuel capless fuel filler (intended to stop accidental diesel refills with petrol), dual zone climate control, power front windows, ISOFIX child seat anchors, electric park brake with hill start assist and LED tail lights.

The Zetec gets items like some extra exterior decoration, power folding mirrors, speed limiter, power rear windows and foglamps and a GBP300 navigation option. Titanium adds larger alloy wheels, keyless start, sport seats, navigation, automatic headlights with automatic beam switching, traffic sign recognition, lane keeping aid, and a TFT instrument cluster which looks really nice and can be configured in a number of ways. The top X pack adds dynamic LED headlamps (which adjust the beam angle and intensity to match the driving by choosing one of seven settings according to vehicle speed, ambient light conditions, steering angle, distance to the vehicle in front and windscreen wiper activation), leather trim, 10 way power and heated front seats, keyless entry and privacy glass.

A vast option list includes various glass roofs according to body style, power tailgate for both wagon and hatch, power steering column, active cruise control and a bunch of driver aids to help with parking, avoid rear-end accidents, monitor blind spots, and see out the back with a rear view camera.

Pedestrian detection

Most of that has been seen before but Ford is most proud of the new 'Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection' which can detect people in or near the road ahead, or who may cross the vehicle’s path. If the system detects a potential collision it automatically applies the brakes if the driver does not respond to warnings. The system processes information collected from a windscreen-mounted camera, and radar located in the bumper, and checks it against a database of pedestrian shapes to help distinguish people from typical roadside scenery and objects.

If a pedestrian is detected in front of the car, and a collision becomes imminent, the driver will first receive an audible and visual warning. Should the driver not respond, the system then shortens the time required to apply the brakes by reducing the gap between brake pads and discs. If there is still no response from the driver the brakes are applied automatically and the vehicle speed is reduced.

The Mondeo is also the first European Ford to have rear seatbelt airbags, as first introduced on the North American Explorer. Not recommended for children, unless they are in ISOFIX-attached child seats, the new belts are a GBP150 option.

Hybrid

The four-door Hybrid sedan combines a specially-developed two-litre, Atkinson cycle, petrol engine with an electric motor and 1.4kWh lithium-ion battery to provide optimised fuel economy and CO2 emissions of 99g/km.Total power is 187PS. Ford claims fuel economy of up to 63mpg. We had a brief drive and found the car favourably comparable to the Lexus hybrids with similar driving characteristics though Ford claims higher speeds can be reached on electric only. Battery life is estimated at 10 years and 150,000 miles.

Range-wide economy/efficiency features include the drag-reducing active grille shutter first seen on the Focus.

The European Mondeo also launches Ford’s new integral link rear suspension and the line now has electric power assisted steering and an optimised anti-lock braking system which helps reduce stopping distances by more than one metre from 62mph.

Stronger body, advanced materials

An industry-first application of hydro-formed high strength steel is used to produce the A-pillars, B-pillars, and roof rails. A new magnesium inner tailgate structure for the four- and five-door models delivers a weight-saving of approximately 40% compared with a traditional steel equivalent.

Also helping achieve body structure weight savings of up to 115kg for the 1.5-litre EcoBoost model is a recycled front energy absorber, Ford’s first design to meet pedestrian protection requirements in both the US and Europe. The 1.5-litre EcoBoost Mondeo weighs 25kg less than the previous generation 1.6-litre EcoBoost model, with 80% of weight savings re-invested in technology to support enhanced fuel efficiency, lower CO2 emissions, improved safety and better comfort.

Apart from the brief drive in the hybrid, Ford offered the new 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol and two-litre Duratorq diesels to try, both with six-speed manual gearboxes. The relatively small petrol unit needs stirring till above 1,500rpm but is mostly smooth and refined apart from some odd vibrations through seat cushion and steering wheel rim at some speeds. The diesel is exceptionally refined and torquey. Ride is biased towards comfort but handling is crisp with lots of grip and both engines were ideal for comfortable, long-distance cruising, while sipping fuel.

Just perfect for a UK sales rep, then.