I recently had the pleasure of driving one of Avis’ brand new 2008 Ford Mondeo rental cars.
Although I only had the car for a day, I covered about 350 miles on all kinds of roads, so by the time I handed it back I felt that I had given it a fair chance to show its strengths and weaknesses.
The model I drove was a new model 2.0 litre petrol-engined hatchback in Titanium spec. Although I am no professional car journo, I have driven a reasonable variety of cars, including the previous generation Mondeo and Vectra – providing me with a good baseline for my expectations.
First impressions were of a slight feeling of confinement generated by the steeply-raked windscreen – whereas the cabin of the previous model Mondeo felt cavernous, the new model felt slightly confined in comparison. I imagine this isn’t a criticism back seat passengers would make, but both I and my front seat passenger instantly noticed the difference.
Other than that, everything seemed good. I had no problems getting comfortable, the 2.0 petrol engine was smooth, quiet and adequately powerful and fuel consumption during my time with the car was in the high 30s – not bad considering that it’s a fairly large car. Steering was light but positive, handling and ride comfortable yet firm enough to engender confidence and noise levels were low. In other words, it’s exactly what it should be – a practical, comfortable and entirely capable full-size car.
The boot, as with the last model, is huge and effortlessly swallowed the rather large amount of ‘stuff’ we had to fit in for our trip. All the switchgear, gadgets and electrics were intuitive and easy to use while on the move – unlike the Renault that I had been driving for a period previously.
I only had a couple of minor reservations about this car. Firstly, it didn’t really seem to be any better than the model it replaced. In fact, I liked it slightly less because the steeply raked windscreen made it feel smaller inside. I’m around 6ft and by no means a giant, but the last model felt much more spacious to me than this one.
My other reservation is the engine. I liked it, it was quiet, smooth and provided reasonable performance – but it didn’t seem noticeably better than the 2.0l petrol engine that was in the 1995 Rover 620 I once owned. Fuel consumption was virtually identical, as was performance, although the Mondeo’s engine was a bit quieter. Somehow I expected more, though.
Gripes aside, this Mondeo is another good car from Ford. It does everything it should do and will no doubt prove reliable and affordable to run. I would happily own one, although if I was spending my own money I might just look for a high-spec, late 2006 model instead, and save the difference.
Update: I’ve just seen that Honest John in the Telegraph has similar reservations to mine about the Mondeo’s 2.0l petrol engine. He describes it as “a curiously unsatisfactory thing to drive” – reflecting my own sentiments, I suppose, in that I didn’t find it any better than a similar engine 13 years older.