Ford Mondeo Econetic
Model/Engine size: 1.8 TDCi
Fuel economy combined: 53.3 mpg
The Ford Focus Econetic has been acclaimed by Green-Car-Guide as an excellent green car – it’s affordable and good to drive. Presumably its big brother, the Mondeo Econetic, will receive similar praise. Or will it? Is there a shock horror conclusion to this road test …?
Here’s the deal. Some green cars work. Some don’t work that well. Unfortunately there is a certain collection of cars that share common characteristics that just aren’t that great to drive. The characteristics are that they are generally medium to large saloons, front wheel drive, and they have slightly underpowered engines that are tuned more for economy than performance. You may have guessed it by now – yes, the Mondeo Econetic looks like it may fall into this category – along with such cars as the Renault Laguna 1.5dCi and Volvo S40 1.6TD.
The Mondeo, in its non-Econetic form, consistently receives rave reviews. It’s spacious and excellent to drive, due to its competent chassis and steering, and it feels like a quality product. The trouble is, when the engine is remapped for economy, it becomes a green step too far – it loses the responsiveness that works well with the handling of the standard Mondeo.
Trundling up and down a motorway, the remapping of the car’s ECU will be less noticeable. And this is where the Mondeo in reality is likely to spend much of its life. It should return around 50mpg on motorway runs, and you get a very large, spacious car – that is also comfortable, feels high quality, and is well-equipped. What a shame that it’s let down when you use it in everyday driving, when the lack of spark really lets it down. The longer gearing and poor throttle response spoil the performance, and the engine is not the quietest diesel around.
The Mondeo Econetic has also been lowered and a boot spoiler added, and the gearbox oil reduces friction. And with the harder low energy tyres and lower suspension, the ride is firmer on this car than the standard Mondeo. Not that this stops the car being comfortable.
So if you do need a large, efficient, relatively inexpensive car for lots of motorway work then the Mondeo Econetic does have lots of redeeming features. Economy of 53.3mpg and emissions of 139 g/km should be near the top of the list – and you’re likely to see the long gears ratios translate to best economy in motorway driving. A great feel-good sensation is achieved by the promise of a range of 800 miles between fuel refills. Road tax of £120 per year (band C) is also attractive – although this is in the same band as the regular non-Econetic 1.8 TDCi.
The Mondeo Econetic – available in hatchback, saloon or estate options – also has good levels of equipment – bluetooth, aircon, a multi-function steering wheel, trip computer and cruise control are all standard.
So there are both upsides and downsides – but here’s another issue to consider. The standard Mondeo averages 50.4mpg. The Econetic only improves on this by 2.9mpg. And the Econetic costs £250 more than the regular 1.8TDCi Zetec trim model on which it’s based. That means that you would have to drive around 40,000 miles before you got a return on the extra purchase price. And that’s 40,000 miles with those frustrating gear ratios and engine management settings.
Most other Mondeo models even look better, with bigger wheels that fill the arches, unlike the Econetic version with its smaller 16″ wheels and energy saving tyres – which ultimately will also have less grip due to their harder compound.
Which leaves us where we started. The Focus Econetic is an efficient car without many downsides; the Mondeo Econetic is asking you to put up with just a few too many niggles in your desire to be green. Car manufacturers are making huge progress in giving us great mainstream green cars without drawbacks; let’s hope Ford can get the recipe right with the next iteration of the Mondeo Econetic.
In the meantime, remember that the Mondeo is basically a very good car. This may sound strange for a recommendation from a website that encourages green cars, but sometimes driving pleasure can outweigh marginal green credentials – the strong and smooth 2.0-litre turbodiesel is the better Mondeo to drive.
Fuel economy extra urban: 64.2 mpg
Fuel economy urban: 41.5 mpg
CO2 emissions: 139 g/km
Green rating: VED band C – £120
Weight: 1576 Kg
Company car tax liability (2008/09): 18%
Price: £19,045 (From £15,995 to £27,345)
Insurance group: 7
Safety: NCAP 5 Star
Max speed: 124 mph
0-62mph: 10.7 seconds