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Driven: Ford Mondeo AWD. Image by Ford.

Driven: Ford Mondeo AWD
Ford adds drive to the rear wheels of the Mondeo, as well as the fronts.

   



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Ford Mondeo AWD

4 4 4 4 4

Good points: astonishing levels of refinement, massive cabin and boot

Not so good: relatively expensive, slow in this format, not that good on fuel

Key Facts

Model tested: Ford Mondeo 2.0 TDCi 150 Titanium All-Wheel Drive
Price: Mondeo range from 20,495; 2.0 TDCi 150 Titanium AWD from 25,295; car as tested 27,610
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel
Transmission: all-wheel drive, six-speed manual
Body style: five-door hatchback
CO2 emissions: 124/km (Band D, 0 VED first 12 months, 110 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 58.9mpg
Top speed: 134mph
0-62mph: 10.3 seconds
Power: 150hp at 3,500rpm
Torque: 370Nm at 2,000- to 2,500rpm

Our view:

Audi's being doing it since, as some might put it up north, 'Noah were a lad'. Mercedes-Benz got on board after it started making SUVs and even BMW, a bastion of rear-wheel drive goodness for decades, has succumbed to the lure of four-wheel drive. So it's no surprise that Ford feels its fifth-generation Mondeo, designed to push upmarket and take on these very three Germanic marques, needs all-corners grip as well. It's just that it hasn't yet thought of a catchy title for the set-up yet, like quattro, 4Matic or xDrive - Ford, ever a straightforward company, simply goes with AWD.

Coupled with the Vignale sub-brand enterprise, it's the sort of development that shows Ford is serious about improving its image and taking back some of the sales that have been poached by the lower ends of the A4, 3 Series and C-Class ranges. However, the sheer quality of the Mk5 Mondeo should be enough to convince buyers. It's a stunning machine by any standards, ramping up the feel-good factor with its best cabin so far and a level of refinement that wouldn't shame Jaguar, never mind the Teutons. So is 1,500 over and above an equivalent front-wheel drive Mondeo worth stumping up for?

The four-wheel drive system can only be had with the 2.0 TDCi engine, in either 150- or 180hp trims. There is nothing externally to mark the AWD Mondeo out from its brethren, while inside there's an extra display screen in the instrument cluster that shows to which wheels the torque is going at any given moment. This isn't a bad feature in some respects, because - if you use it regularly on a test drive - it would be a good way of convincing you not to bother with AWD.

This is because the Mondeo only shunts torque backwards when it is moving off from a standstill. For the vast majority of the time in normal driving conditions, the rear axle simply follows around in the tyre-treads of the front like any two-wheel drive Mondeo. We're sure if the conditions got really, really tricky, then the mental 'comfort blanket' of having four-wheel drive would offer succour to some drivers, but, in reality, unless you're fitting winter tyres too, we'd argue the AWD doesn't actually add a lot of security to the way the Mondeo clings on to the tarmac.

AWD doesn't change the way the Mondeo corners or rides, which is good, as it's easy to forget just how sublime the ride/refinement combination is on the big Ford. Due at a wedding 80 miles away from home at 7.30pm, a prior engagement in Manchester meant we didn't leave the house until 7.25pm. Cue a rather rapid sojourn down the A46 and M1, which was conducted in near-silence; no, we'd not had a marital tiff because The Wife took 45 minutes to get ready when she said she'd be done in 30 - rather, the Mondeo just smoothed away the whole trip in a supremely luxurious manner. As a Titanium, the 17-inch wheels on our test car are likely to be unrepresentative of the (larger) size of alloys people will actually spec up in the showrooms, but if you can stomach the looks (they appear a tiny bit small for the car, especially in the rear arches) then stick with them.

Passively suspended, this Mondeo is an ideal exemplar of Ford's expertise in setting a car up to work brilliantly in all conditions, without recourse to adjustable dampers - the compression and rebound of the shock absorbers, whether trying to soak up large, primary impacts or flatten out the secondary, minor surface imperfections, is flawless. The big Mondeo simply floats everywhere it goes as if the whole UK road network had been surreptitiously resurfaced overnight. Yet don't for a minute think body control is loose; just like any good Ford, it turns in keenly, corners flat and generally drives in a sportier manner than its elegant exterior appearance would have you believe.

However, it's not just a sumptuous mix of ride and handling, but the almost total lack of external sound contributors that makes this Ford feel twice as expensive as it is; the TDCi engine is an extremely discreet operator, Ford's aero team ought to win a medal for the way it has eliminated wind noise (even at, er... progressive, late-for-a-wedding motorway speeds) and tyre roar is kept to the barest minimum. There's also a lovely amount of heft to all of the Mondeo's major controls that makes driving it an absolute breeze. So far, there's little reason to steer clear of AWD, although all of the above would be true of a front-wheel drive Mondeo too.

What AWD does do is blunt performance and impinge on the running costs. Ford quotes a 0-62mph time of 10.3 seconds for this 150hp model, a whole second behind the front-wheel drive equivalent, and it feels every bit as leisurely as that. The massive 370Nm of torque does a good job of masking the Mondeo's 1,656kg bulk once it's rolling, so it is perfectly adept at dealing with the dual carriageways and motorways that are most likely to be its natural habitat, but stepping off the line or accelerating hard through the lower gears is a tardy affair.

And we saw 40.3mpg, delivered across 252 miles at an average speed of 41.3mph; i.e., mainly motorway speeds. That's a massive amount shy of the 58.9mpg quoted number and is perhaps indicative of the 78kg weight gain the AWD brings. You'll get a lot closer to the front-wheel drive's 67.3mpg figure in the real world, while it's also a couple of bands lower than the AWD for VED (Band B, 0 year one, 20 annually thereafter) if you're particularly watching the pennies.

We're fans of the fifth-generation Mondeo (and all four generations that have gone before, to be honest), which is an assured machine no matter what specification you plump for, while the AWD is a perfectly understandable addition to the line-up. But if it were our money, we'd stick with front-wheel drive. With just two wheels linked to the engine, the Ford still feels a special machine with an utterly huge interior - the boot on even the hatch looking capable of swallowing several large suitcases with disdain - and refinement levels that are nearly off the charts. The purchase price savings and better fuel economy of the front-wheel drive variants just make them that bit more tempting than the AWD.

Alternatives:

Audi A4: the brand that has done four-wheel drive cars for longest is the best at it, although - like the Mondeo - as the alternative is front-wheel driven, the benefits of quattro on the Audi are less obvious.

BMW 3 Series: it makes more sense to do a four-wheel drive version of an otherwise rear-drive car - after all, how many RWD BMWs have you seen spinning their wheels furiously in a light dusting of snow?

Volkswagen Passat: Volkswagen's four-wheel drive Passat is extremely refined, but not cheap in this specification, and the Mondeo is the more entertaining car to drive.


Matt Robinson - 27 Nov 2015



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2016 Ford Mondeo. Image by Ford.2016 Ford Mondeo. Image by Ford.2016 Ford Mondeo. Image by Ford.2016 Ford Mondeo. Image by Ford.2016 Ford Mondeo. Image by Ford.



2016 Ford Mondeo. Image by Ford.
 

2016 Ford Mondeo. Image by Ford.
 

2016 Ford Mondeo. Image by Ford.
 

2016 Ford Mondeo. Image by Ford.
 

2016 Ford Mondeo. Image by Ford.
 

2016 Ford Mondeo. Image by Ford.
 

2016 Ford Mondeo. Image by Ford.
 

2016 Ford Mondeo. Image by Ford.
 






 

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