Ford Mondeo: With power to match

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The turbo-diesel Ford Mondeo makes easy work of heavy-duty highway driving demands. Photos by David Thomson.

The new diesel Mondeo more than makes David Thomson's short list.

While fine cars in every other respect, the standard petrol versions of the new Mondeo tested
on these pages previously have suffered from one common weakness: they lack the mid-range
grunt to shine in a car that is larger and heavier than the model it replaces.

Packing a 320Nm torque punch from 1750 to 2240rpm, and helped in its role by a fine six-speed automatic transmission, the turbo-diesel is immune to such failings.

Rather, with over 70% more torque than the 2.0-litre non-turbo petrol (and over 50% more than the 2.3-litre petrol), it makes easy work of heavy-duty highway driving demands.

The diesel also uses the same fine underlying platform and suspension set-up as other models in the new Mondeo line, so is every bit as solid and composed dynamically.

Indeed, thanks to the diesel's superior pull in the low and mid-ranges, it is in many respects an even easier and more rewarding machine in which to find a natural rhythm and balance when pressing along a winding stretch of tarmac.

Superb body control, decent levels of refinement, and an underlying feeling of engineering solidity also shine through, as they do in other members of the family.

The economy benefit of diesel measures up at 10% over a petrol manual Mondeo and almost 25% against a petrol automatic.

This, though, must be balanced against the $3000 price premium Ford asks against the list price for equivalent petrol variants.

This pricing approach sets $40,990 as the diesel Mondeo sedan entry point.

The wagon lists at $42,990 and the flagship Zetec hatch, as tested, at $43,990.

The Zetec tag garners a classy interior, and one which pretty much matches the Falcon for usable space.

It also covers plenty of equipment.

This includes the seven airbags that have helped Mondeo to the maximum five-star NCAP crash test result, electronic stability programming, dual zone climate, an MP3-compatible six-stack premium sound system, trip computer and cruise control.

There are also a bevy of fingertip controls on the steering column.

This is one of the finest sub-$50,000 cars to have passed through my hands this year.

The Mondeo diesel deserves to make the short list of anyone shopping for a new car in the upper mid-sized range.

Read a snapshot test on the Ford Mondeo XR5 Turbo

Ford Mondeo: With power to match
At a Glance

FORD MONDEO DIESEL ZETEC

Test rating: 5

For: Space, quality feel, solid performance and fine driving dynamics.
Against: $3000 price premium for the diesel, fiddly sound-system controls.
Verdict: A superb car, ideally suited to Otago roads.

SPECIFICATION

Price: (as tested): $43,990.

Engine: 1997cc 16-valve four-cylinder diesel, max power 103kW@4000rpm, max torque 320Nm@1750-2240rpm.

Transmission: Six-speed automatic, front-wheel drive.

Brakes and stability systems: Electronic stability programming, traction control, and front and rear discs brakes with anti-lock.

Wheel, tyres: Alloy rims and 215/55 R16 tyres.

Fuel and economy: Diesel, 7.1l/100km (on combined cycle), capacity 70 litres.

Dimensions: Length 4778mm, width 1886mm, height 1500mm.

Warranty: Three years/100,000km.

Main rivals: Holden Epica, Honda Accord Euro, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Magentis, Mazda 6, Peugeot 407, Toyota Camry.

RATING (5/5)