2009 MB Ford Mondeo LX, Wagon, Zetec, Titanium, XR5 Turbo First Test Drive

Tim O'Brien | 16 Comments

WE LIKE THE MONDEO, always have. Can’t work out why such a decent drive and decent-looking medium contender has not done better in the Australian market.

Like, take a look at last month’s VFACTS sales figures for the Mondeo and compare them with the Mazda6 and the Accord Euro. Mazda sold 672 of its seemly 6, Honda sold 385 Euros, while Ford sold 259 Mondeos.

The Mondeo is better than that. So what’s the story? Is it too close to the Falcon, can that be it? Or is it just that Ford hasn’t yet worked out how to get the Mondeo onto the radar for Australian buyers?

Maybe buyers just forget to check it out.

But perhaps the new MB Mondeo will change things. With a new Wagon, plus a hatch with both the LX specification and a ‘Titanium’ premium badge added to the mix, Ford may now have the right model spread for the Mondeo to finally make its presence felt in the segment.

We got behind the wheel of each of the new models, and, over a range of varying roads and surfaces, had a chance to see where Ford has tweaked the new MB range.

While a longer test will tell the tale, on this first drive, the news – pretty much – is all good.

Both the Wagon and the LX hatch model are all-new entries to the range (the LX was previously only available as a sedan).

The LX hatch - now up-specced with the addition of Bluetooth hands-free with Voice Control system, cruise control and leather steering wheel, at no increase to the $31,990 list price - will be a welcome addition for many buyers.

The Wagon, which is perhaps of most interest, comes at the expense of the slow-selling sedan, which Ford Australia has dropped from showrooms.

Mechanical package

Right now, the LX and Wagon are available with the 2.3 litre petrol engine only. The stylish and well-balanced MB Wagon would certainly benefit from the diesel option.

There is nothing wrong though with the smooth and surprisingly tractable 2.3 litre Duratec 16-valve petrol engine. With 118kW @ 6500rpm and 208 Nm @ 4200rpm, and a willingness to spin effortlessly, it’s no gasping slouch and moves the Mondeo in hatch or wagon form along quite nicely.

The diesel option for the Zetec and Titanium hatch is the potent and familiar TDCi Duratorq diesel with 103kW @ 4000rpm and 320Nm available from 1750rpm.

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Each powerplant is mated to Ford’s excellent six-speed automatic auto. Those six nicely-spaced ratios provide strong performance for both models.

The diesel – which is a cracker – has the edge once things are rolling. It is very strong in the mid-speeds, from 80-100km/h, and effortlessly holds momentum on the road.

The diesel is the choice, especially if you’re regularly loaded up. This latter point would make it a ‘monty’ for the Wagon.

That said, the peakier petrol, thanks to its willingness to keep spinning, is faster in a bolt off the line. But, with fewer Newton-metres to call on, you find yourself making more use of the six-speed box to maintain momentum through corners and hills.

The drive

There are two things that surprise with the Wagon. The first is its size.

This is a big wagon; it’s got more load space than Holden’s Sportwagon, but it doesn’t look bulbous nor does it feel it at the wheel. In the metal, it looks sharp with a nice front to rear balance, clean lines, a rising hipline and a deep stylish crease running nose to tail.

On road, it feels little different to any other well-sorted medium-hatch. But with the split-fold (60:40) seats tipped forward, you could get a forty-four gallon drum into the cargo space.

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Importantly, it doesn’t turn all ‘arsy’ and top heavy when giving it a push through the bends. Sure, you’re aware there’s some weight back there, but the Mondeo Wagon’s handling is first-class.

The second surprise is the refinement. Though we traversed a variety of roads including some coarse blue-metal bitumen, the Wagon is all-but free of typical wagon resonance and ‘boom’.

Wind-noise, as with the Fiesta and Focus, is commendably banished. There is a little tyre shearing, but only on the coarsest surfaces. The rear suspension is nicely isolated, despite the large hollow space above it, and NVH is particularly low.

In fact, the MB Mondeo Wagon performs better for NVH in our view than the greatly improved (over the former model) Mazda6 wagon for instance: a tick there to Ford’s acoustic engineers.


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There is nothing particularly sophisticated with the underpinnings, with MacPherson strut front and independent control-blade multi-link rear. But the Mondeo is nicely damped – although the Wagon wallows a little more than the hatch – and with good suspension travel.

On this first drive, it appeared to have none of the nervousness at the wheel nor the harsh rebound on broken surfaces that we’ve come to expect from some of the Mondeo’s Euro-designed competitors.

The Titanium and XR5 Turbo are a little more focused down below, both offering sports suspension with a 10mm lower ride height.

All across the range come with disc brakes front and rear, ventilated up front, solid rear. Each also features anti-lock braking, electronic brakeforce distribution, emergency brake assistance, and stability and traction control.

The interior

Inside and at the wheel the MB Mondeo scores another tick for Ford. The interior is nicely styled and restrained, with appealing tactile surfaces, good fit and finish and ergonomically ‘right’.

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The front and rear seats are comfortable and well-shaped, and the fabrics, even in the LX, appear durable and of good quality. (Time will tell with fabrics of course – nothing like the addition of a few gummy six-year-olds, the family dog and a bit of projectile vomiting to really test out an interior.)

In the Titanium model and XR5 Turbo, the alcantara/leather seats front and back are very appealing to the touch, offer good lumbar and lateral support (when cornering) and are lounge-chair comfortable.

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Instruments and controls are nicely laid out, although, being a bit of a dunce, I struggled a little sorting out the controls of the multi-function steering wheel which is perhaps not as intuitive as some.

Particularly appealing is the clear instrument cluster in the binnacle in front of the driver. It is a little reminiscent, as my colleague on the drive observed, of the simple layout of the old Cortina 440. (A good thing incidentally.)

Equipment and features

For equipment and features, even the entry-spec LX comes well configured.

Bluetooth hands-free with voice control is standard across the range, as is Ford’s capless refuelling system with ‘mis-fuel inhibitor, heated power mirrors and ‘follow me home’ lighting.

On Zetec, Titanium and XR5 Turbo models, the voice control system extends to include audio and climate control functionality – giving you the chance to talk to the radio or CD player for a change (or, if you’re really bored, to the air-conditioner).

The LX gets an eight-speaker audio system with CD and aux-in jack for MP3 players. The higher-spec models get a Sony premium system with six-disc player, MP3 and USB input, and full iPod compatibility.

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Leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel is standard across the range as is cruise control. Titanium and XR5 Turbo models come with a very classy adaptive cruise control (with radar distance-control). The LX gets power front windows; up-spec models get power windows front and rear.

Zetec, Titanium and XR5 Turbo also get rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlights, driver’s seat power height adjust, heated leather seats, proximity sensing ‘smart key’, ‘power start’ button, 18-inch sports alloy wheels, dynamic headlights with cornering lamps and power tilt and slide sunroof.

All across the range come with driver and front passenger airbags, side front airbags, side curtain airbags and drivers’ knee airbag.

The verdict

Yes, the Mondeo is still one of the best drives, and best value, in its segment.

With a Wagon and a Titanium model now extending the model range, and each exceptionally well configured, there are more reasons to commend the Mondeo.

The LX hatch begins the pricing at $31,990 plus on-roads, the LX Wagon at $32,990 plus on-roads. Zetec petrol variants are priced at $36,990 and $37,990 (plus on-roads) respectively, the Zetec TDCi rattling the till at $39,990 (plus on-roads).

The luxurious Titanium 2.3 litre petrol is $42,990, the TDCi $45,990 (plus on-roads). The XR5 Turbo (with 2.5 litre) sits just under the TDCi Titanium at $44,990 (plus on-roads).

We loved the XR5 Turbo when we looked at it last year, we still do; ditto with the TDCi.

A lot of families will like the Wagon in particular. We’d prefer to also have the diesel option with the Wagon, but, in the meantime, the 2.3 litre petrol variant, while not a tear-away, is up to the task.

We will get the diesel Wagon here, but Australian buyers need to be a little patient. Ford Australia's Justin Lacy told TMR that the "turbo-diesel wagon should join the range later this year or early next year".

"Our priority was simply to get the wagon here as soon as possible, which due to production constraints out of Europe, meant petrol variants arrive first, in line with the rest of the MB Mondeo range, " Mr Lacy said.

This first test drive of the MB Mondeo Wagon and Titanium models confirms our view that the Mondeo has the measure of the segment and should be leading in sales.

Time will tell if Ford can succeed in busting the MB Mondeo into the consciousness of buyers. It has the right car in the right place.

RATING: 4 stars

Filed under: Featured, review, medium cars, mondeo, ford mondeo, performance cars, 2009 ford mondeo mb, 2009 ford mondeo, ford, tim o'brien, ford xr5

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  • Luke Skywalker says,
    5 years ago
    I don't think I've ever seen an advert for one on TV. Add to that, they seem to be hidden away in a dark corner of dealerships and it's no surprise they don't do better.

    The real reason that and the Epica doesn't do well in my opinion? It's because the average aussie male says 'nah mate, I'll stick to my aussie built car. None of that nancy european stuff for me thanks!'.
  • Tony D says,
    5 years ago
    At least 1/10 of my works carpark is made up of Mazda 3s and 6s. At a glance, the Mondeo is bordom personified in comparison (even the name screams "I'm going to take a nap now")...
  • Morris says,
    5 years ago
    I think its just poor marketing on Ford's behalf. If they put more money into marketing this car it would sell better.

    As for LS's comment, I honestly believe most Australian's don't know or care where their car was built, they just want it cheaply.
  • Luke Skywalker says,
    5 years ago
    Sorry Morris, didn't mean aussie built, I meant aussie car. i.e. Falcons and Commodores are seen as aussie cars (which they are), with aussie v6 and v8 engines (also fair enough) whilst Mondeo's etc are viewed as namby pamby. Of course, those who don't care about Falcons or Commodores are probably happier with Mazdas, Toyotas and Hondas.

    Just my opinion of course, and you know what they say about opinions!
  • Richard says,
    5 years ago
    Tony D: Yes its probably a bad name for a car, but if you have been in one or seen one up close, this car is far from boring.

    Mazda's are a great car but will soon become the next Toyota, so many of them on the road. I'd rather have something unique.
  • Grumps says,
    5 years ago
    1 like
    Yeah the Ford marketing department need a huge kick up the bum for sure.

    But isn't one of the problems with the 2.3 petrol auto the rather steep fuel consumption - up around 11L/100 I have read.
  • Spanna72 says,
    5 years ago
    Reports from both Australia and Europe confirm that the Mondeo is a pretty decent vehicle.

    I guess the problem of the 2.3 petrol engine is that of power-to-weight: on paper, 118kW seems fair, although the mass of the Mondeo means that engine will never be spritely. Traditionally, Australian drivers have appreciated torque-on-demand driving characteristics of 6 and 8 cylinder Fords (and Holdens).

    To this end the, 2.0-litre turo-diesel engine makes sense in the Mondeo.

    But...
    What ires me - and no doubt others - is that Ford had at the 2008 Melbourne International Motor Show a Mondeo turbo-diesel wagon, which featured a torque-laden 2.2-litre turo-diesel engine delivering 129 kilowatts and 400 Newton metres.

    (Contrast this to the 2.0 TDCi engine 2.0-litre turbo diesel engines currently offered here with 103kW/320Nm. In other words, more than 25% more kW and Nm for 10% more engien capacity.)

    More relevant, if Mazda can offer their "own" 2.2 turbo-diesel engine - not the same Ford-PSA developed unit - which has 136kW/400Nm, why can't Ford up the ante?

    Ford's 2.2-litre turo-diesel would certainly be a more appropriate option for the seemingly sports-luxury Titanium model, especially seeing it would go head-to-head with Mazda's own 2.2-litre turo-diesel Luxury Sports.

    Come on Ford...
  • allan says,
    5 years ago
    Mistake 1 : no supply (won't wait 3mths)
    Mistake 2 : Marketing (where?)
    Mistake 3: Dealer attitude....'not many available, want a Falcon?'
    Mistake 4: Poor/non-existent after sales service from many dealers
    Mistake 5: Poor reading of market demographics - up-spec in right packages?
    Mistake 6: XR5 colours (red, white, black, grey1, grey2, grey3)...boring boring boring
  • allan says,
    5 years ago
    Dear FordOz,
    Wanted : XR5-spec full manual wagon in Tango, Blue, or that Uk pale blue coplour. Chequebook ready and waiting
  • Justin says,
    5 years ago
    I have just ordered an MB TDCI Hatchback with towbar, mats, protectors, mudflaps for $41k driveaway. Mazda only offer a diesel wagon with a manual tran, and you are looking at $38k + on roads. The luxury hatchback diesel is $45k + on roads. Ford aren't marketing this above the line as they are targeting fleet sales - that's where the money is for this sort of car, especially the diesel. This could gouge resale values but more on the road would boost the Mondeo brand, so give and take. I currently drive a Vectra (another good car the victim of poor positioning) and I look forward to swapping from prem unleaded to diesel - current a 30C a litre difference.
  • Brett says,
    5 years ago
    Heh Guys
    I have an XR5 Mondeo that is just great in all respects
    I have had it tweeked a little taking it from 163kws to 246kws and 500nm...a real firecracker...I love it.....previous ride was a black 330ci BMW individual ...no comparison the XR5 is the choice..black with two wide silver race stripes down the centre from tip to toe....looks and drives great....lets hear it for German FORDS.....I am a vey happy camper.............
  • Jerome says,
    5 years ago
    Ford have an ABSOLUTELY AWESOME performance line up at the moment.

    1. Fiesta Zetec (class leader - cant wait for XR4).
    2. Focus XR5 (A bit dated but still nice)
    3. Mondeo XR5 (Grossly underrated)
    4. Falcon XR6 Turbo (best aussie car ever)
    5. Territory Turbo (X5 beater although quite boring to look at)

    Not to mention the FPV models - and I'm not even a Ford fan !!!

    Unfortunately they are let down immensely by their dealers and marketing department. They need a major image overhaul, but they seem quite happy just selling falcons all day long.
  • ozedude says,
    5 years ago
    From an independant un-biased opinion i can tell you that i wouldn't buy one for two main reasons. The engines and the reputation Honda vs Ford doesn't compare.

    Both sales and service, while not perfect with Honda, is far worse with Ford.

    The raft of consumer complaints make my point for me.
  • Jules says,
    5 years ago
    Ford Australia desperately need a new advertising agency!
  • Steve says,
    5 years ago
    Based on a 30 minute test drive of the Zetec wagon (auto), I can say that it is a nice car but very under-powered. We had three 70kg adults and a 10kg toddler in the car and acceleration was very poor away from lights and up hills compared with surrounding cars (and I doubt they were trying to push as hard as me) and other cars I have driven (including a 10 year old Subaru Liberty 2.5 litre). The petrol consumption figure - more than 14 litres/100km around town - is very ordinary considering the engine. Handling, comfort, space, quietness and features are great, but it is in desperate need of the diesel (and preferably the 2.2L they have in other markets).
  • Solly says,
    5 years ago
    After a long and thorough search for a new car, I have had my XR5T now for about 6 months. I looked at everything before I decided on my purchase including SS Commodores (I drive one for work and know how good and how bad they are) XR6T and XR8's Mazda's, Hondas, Aurions and it came down to just two the Skoda Octavia RS wagon and the XR5T. Skoda were just about giving them away with some fantatic deals $$$, but the XR5T won out. If you haven't driven one, do yourself a favour and do so, you will be very impressed.

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