There is not too long, Ford dreamed to become which Volkswagen is today - an empire of the motor vehicles made up of several marks supported by synergy and the economies of scale.
It is still unclear why Ford failed in its quest and VW succeeded.
But it was not an entirely futile exercise for America's
second-largest vehicle maker. Through its past ownership of Aston
Martin, Land Rover, Jaguar and Volvo, Ford learnt what made premium
And it has brought its wealth of knowledge to bear on recent
products. The puny but spunky Fiesta is more fun than the Volkswagen
Polo. The Focus ST closely matches the Golf GTI. The S-Max is probably
the coolest MPV in town.
And now, the Ford Mondeo is muscling in on Singaporeans' favourite segment: the full-size sedan.
The latest version has the stature and the styling to pull it off.
When compared with cars such as the VW Passat, Toyota Camry, Honda
Accord, Hyundai Sonata and Mazda6, the Mondeo holds its own quite well
- it does not blend in with the rest, neither does it stick out too
It has an imposing side profile, sleek and regal, with lines and
angles that remind you of the BMW 5-series. Interestingly, both the
four- and five-door versions have exactly the same silhouette.
Its high waistline, low-profile LED lights and aggressive Aston
Martin-like grille are contemporary design cues that elevate the
traditionally staid model.
What speaks volumes, though, is the car's build quality. Its
impossibly thin and uniform shutlines, deep gloss paintwork and overall
fit and finish of the cabin are on a par with what you see on the
Sonata, the current standard bearer in the segment.
But for good measure, Ford has thrown in features that are usually found in a higher segment.
The Mondeo has adaptive cruise control (the best I have sampled so
far), autonomous emergency braking, phone connectivity, TFT instrument
gauges, keyless access and ignition (with the key being able to store
programmed settings), memory seats with automatic easy- access function
and an adaptive lighting system.
The full-LED system adjusts the headlight beam angle and intensity
to match road contours, ambient lighting, steering angle, distance to
the vehicle in front and even wiper speed.
Changes that you do not see include the use of hydro-formed
high-strength steel in the A- and B-pillars as well as the roof rails.
The car has an integral link rear suspension which, together with new
insulation materials, reduces road noise to levels achieved by the
Camry, its quietest rival.
Unlike the Camry, though, the Mondeo is a lot more engaging and
entertaining at the helm. Its 2-litre turbocharged engine puts out
240bhp - unchanged but now attainable at 5,300rpm instead of 6,000rpm.
Peak torque goes up marginally from 340Nm to 345Nm, but arrives earlier at 2,300rpm instead of 3,500rpm.
And instead of a dual-clutch autobox, the new Mondeo employs a
traditional torque converter gearbox that is equally smooth and
responsive in any given situation.
The car is the same size as before but weighs about 100kg more on account of its higher equipment level and enhanced insulation.
Yet it is slightly more economical on account of its beefier
powertrain being tuned for efficiency rather than peformance. (Clocking
a 7.9-second century sprint instead of 7.5 previously, it is still
among the quickest 2-litre sedans around.)
At the wheel, the car feels remarkably effortless and confident,
sturdy yet comfortable, and sporty in an unobtrusive way. It does not
hide its size, but its chassis does a creditable job of minimising the
unwieldy traits of a large barge.
The result is a very refined progress, close to what you experience in a performance luxury sedan.
Perhaps if it had a car like the Mondeo 15 years ago, Ford would not
have needed to line its stables with all those premium marques it