The Ford Mondeo is a practical, well-made family hatchback that has been a common sight on British roads since the 1990s. It was back in those days that the phrase 'Mondeo Man' was coined, a term used to label mainstream motorists, and consumers more generally. Much has happened to the car market since then, with buyers preferring crossover SUVs like the Nissan Qashqai to traditional hatchbacks. Even the more expensive BMW 3 Series now outsells the Mondeo but the Ford endures thanks to its mix of solid, reliable characteristics.
Even if you aren't interested in crossovers or the premium end of the market, the Ford Mondeo still has a number of very capable rivals to catch your eye. The Volvo S60 and Volkswagen Passat are both excellent, while the Hyundai i40, Kia Optima and Toyota Avensis are all pragmatic alternatives.
It seems as if style and comfort have been the two big watchwords for the latest Mondeo, with a large front grille and narrow, angular headlights giving the car a sleek, refined appearance that previous Mondeos have lacked. Inside, the fit and finish of the interior is good but the design and materials don't match up to those in the Skoda Superb and Volkswagen Passat, and it's a shame that the focus on comfort has blunted the once impressive Mondeo driving dynamics.
The sharpness of the previous Mondeo has all but vanished and while the car isn't terrible to drive, it feels bigger, less responsive and softer. That does make it more refined and comfortable on the motorway, where the car is on a par with competitors like the Passat, but it's a shame the Mondeo has lost so much of its handling prowess.
The Mondeo's new levels of refinement and maturity have also resulted in an increase in its price. While this makes some of the other options in the Mondeo's class even more appealing, it should be noted that the Ford comes with plenty of safety kit and good levels of equipment in all trims.
The Mondeo is available in six trim levels: Style, Zetec, ST-Line, Titanium and Titanium X. Whichever you choose, standard equipment is generous – the entry-level Mondeo Style comes with LED tail-lights, DAB digital radio, climate control, an eight-inch colour touchscreen infotainment system and cruise control. As is often the case, the mid-range model is the most sensible choice: Zetec Mondeos come with sat nav, automatic headlights, sports seats and automatic wipers – equipment that's likely to make the car far more useable on a day-to-day basis.
Ford also makes a high-end Mondeo Vignale that it considers a standalone car. While this has a quilted leather interior, heated seats, metallic paint and a reversing camera as standard, it's an expensive choice, with prices starting at almost £30,000.
The Ford Mondeo has always been popular with company-car buyers and this is reflected in the efficient diesel engines available. There's a 1.5-litre which incurs just 16% Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) tax, manages 70mpg and emits just 94g/km of CO2, making it road-tax-exempt. A 2.0-litre diesel engine is also available in three power outputs, and if you’re happy to sacrifice a little in the way of economy, the extra power of these engines makes the Mondeo a better motorway cruiser.
We recommend the 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel. Its 65mpg economy, £30 annual road-tax bill and 20% Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) tax rating mean it's still affordable to run, but the extra power available makes the Mondeo more useable and pleasant to drive.
There are three petrol engines available, all turbocharged: the 123bhp 1.0-litre manages 55.4mpg and costs just £30 a year to tax, but it needs to be worked hard to keep pace with traffic. The 237bhp 2.0-litre engine is powerful, but it incurs a £205 annual road-tax bill and isn’t much faster in practice than the mid-range diesel.
If you want a petrol-engined Mondeo, your best bet is the 1.5-litre. It's smooth, powerful and returns 47.9mpg. While it costs £130 a year to tax, it’ll probably be the most economical option if you cover less than around 12,00 miles a year.
You can also buy a petrol-electric hybrid version of the Mondeo. This is only available as a saloon and, while it manages 67.3mpg and is road-tax-exempt, it's expensive to buy and sacrifices some practicality for economy, as its batteries eat into boot space.