Mondeo Hybrid has been around since 2013 but the estate is new this year

Mondeo Hybrid has been around since 2013 but the estate is new this year

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Is there a future for the Mondeo? At the moment, Ford of Europe isn't saying either way as speculation suggests there are plans to replace this model, the S-Max and Galaxy with a new global crossover. Considering the age of the design, sales are holding up well, with 20,800 delivered during the first half of 2019.

That sales tally comes from FoE itself and applies to what it terms the Euro 20 markets: Austria, Belgium, Britain, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Mondeo and Fusion: built in Mexico, China and Spain

The Mondeo has been available in this region since early 2015 but that's because there was a long delay in getting it into production here. This was due to the controversial closure of a Belgian factory which built the previous shape model. After the dust settled, the decision was taken to put the next Mondeo into a Spanish factory which would also produce the S-Max and Galaxy on the same line. Production got underway at the end of 2014 and all three models share the front- and all-wheel drive CD4 platform.

The current CD391 shape Mondeo (Fusion in the Americas) dates to early 2012, which is when production for North, Central and South America commenced in Mexico. The sedan is also made in China, and cars for European countries are produced at the Almussafes plant near Valencia. Build in Russia would end, Ford announced in March, as it told the media of plans to close two vehicle assembly and one engine plant in the country.

Will Ford really walk away from 300,000+ sales a year?

The company keeps saying that it is largely getting out of the cars business in North America, insisting that crossovers, SUVs, sports cars and pick-ups are where all the volume and money are to be found. GM, Toyota, Honda, Hyundai-Kia and Nissan don't seem to agree that this is the best idea, each of them hedging their bets. Yes, buyers are generally less interested in cars than they once were. However, with 176,008 units of America's number one car, the Toyota Camry sold in the first half of this year, and this being a dip of 1.5 per cent year-on-year, will Ford regret its decision to axe its own midsize model, the Fusion?

In the US, the Mondeo's Fusion twin is number four in its segment behind the Accord (129,435, -6.4%) and Nissan Altima (108,777, -12.1%) and guess what, deliveries rose in the first half of the year, by 10.8% to 96,351. Ford no longer issues monthly sales figures for the US market, which is why I am quoting H1 totals. The company does still tell the media how many vehicles it produces each month in North America, and the total for the Fusion as at the end of July stands at 119,242.

Why is Ford turning its back on a car which garners nearly a quarter of a million sales a year? It doesn't seem like a good business decision when a car is this popular, even if a fair bit of that volume likely goes into daily rental fleets. The Fusion is also the fourth best selling Ford model in the USA and here's another thing, Fiesta sales are up by half so far in 2019, to 38,116. Which makes it a stronger seller than the EcoSport and only slightly less in demand than the Mustang. And still Ford it wants to exit most car lines in the USA.

China - Ford in trouble still

All of the above is noted to highlight just how strongly connected Ford's cars are at a global level, and that's not even considering how the Mondeo does in China (sadly not very well, retail sales being down by 52% to 12,916 in H1). That statistic might look at though the model's future is shaky but add up worldwide numbers and around 300,000+ units a year seems realistic. Does Ford really intend to hand that volume to its rivals, the majority of it being in the US, with modest and likely profitable support from Europe and Canada, plus a contribution from China's CAF joint venture?

Hybrid estate - new in Europe

I hadn't driven a Mondeo for a while, which is why the arrival of a new derivative was of interest. The European markets versions have always lagged what Ford Motor Company was doing for the Americas but the latest updates didn't take too long to arrive.

There were changes to the Fusion for North America's 2019 model year. The updated range debuted at the New York auto show in March 2018. As well as adjustments to model grades and more power for the (PHEV) Energi's battery, there was a facelift for all cars. Ford of Europe gave the Mondeo the same facelift during early 2019, adding a Hybrid estate at the same time.

Smaller boot but still competitive

This car has always been enjoyable to drive. Even with the added weight of the battery pack under the back seat/boot, that's still the case. You lose 122 litres of luggage capacity compared to a petrol or diesel Mondeo estate (633 l versus 755) and the space saver spare also goes.

The thing that's most noticeable even from the first drive is how refined the car is. The powertrain is a 2.0-litre petrol engine and one motor. You can run the car in EV mode (at up 100km/h) or else leave the motor to add boost when needed.

Self-developed hybrid transmission

Ford's HF35 transmission was not only specially developed for this car but it was the company's first self-developed and built hybrid gearbox. The artificial shifts of this six-ratio CVT are way more refined than many DCTs and as good as the best comparable torque converter alternatives, such as ZF's eight-speed units. That's intended to be as high a level of praise as is possible.

About the only area where the Mondeo leaves you wanting more is torque, which is just 173Nm. Compare that to the 400Nm which the 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesel puts out, or even the 242Nm of the 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine. Still, combined system power is fine - it's 187PS or 140kW - and the top speed is 116mph. Zero to 62mph takes 9.2 seconds, and the CO2 average is 103g/km.

UK sales of hybrid cars shoot up by 34% in July

The arrival of the updated Mondeo Hybrid is well timed, the UK market for such cars rising by 34.2% to 7,758 sales in July. By contrast, deliveries of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles plunged by 49.6% last month, the SMMT notes. Hybrids now command 4.9% of the market and this time last year they were only 3.5%.

Ford remains market leader in Britain, the Fiesta being more than 12,000 units ahead of the second best seller, which also has a blue oval badge. But the Golf had a great July, so the Focus now leads its Volkswagen rival by few than 400 vehicles. The Kuga is the other Ford in the top ten, its 23,346 sales placing it eighth.

Will there be a generation five Mondeo?

We still don't know exactly what Ford intends to do about the Mondeo, Ford of Europe's official position being that it doesn't comment on speculation and that the current car's production run has some time yet to go.

In North America, the successor might become a direct rival for the Subaru Outback. And in China and Europe? We just don't know. As PSA has found with the 508 and VAG knows well from the success of the Octavia, Passat and Superb, there is still a big market for D/E segment sedans, hatchbacks and estates. And you don't have to be called Audi, BMW or Mercedes to enjoy a decent level of success. 

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