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Ford Mondeo 1.6 TDCI 115 ECOnetic Titanium X Hatchback

Click to view picture gallery“Business car drivers are finally
  waking up to the fact that the cleaner
  the tailpipe emissions of their
  company cars, the less personal
  Benefit-in-Kind tax they pay.
  But many are still unaware that BIK
  tax goes up again next April
...”


BIK HAS BECOME THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE for business user-choosers: as the worsening economic climate puts more pressure on family budgets, this in turn is forcing company car drivers to move into less taxing cars.

Ford, with over 90% of their new Mondeos going to fleets and business user-choosers, has responded with the introduction of two lower CO2 emission powerplants to the popular five-door hatchback and estate range.

With auto stop-start as standard, the two new engines are the 1.6-litre 160 Ecoboost petrol unit (149g/km of CO2 emissions, BIK rate of 19%, and annual road tax of 130) and the future best-selling 1.6 TDCI 115 ECOnetic turbodiesel with CO2 emissions of just 114g/km (13% BIK and First Year road tax of 0, rising to just 30 per annum for the second year onwards). This diesel unit means Mondeo Man can now drive a larger car for the same taxation costs as a new diesel Focus or even a diesel Fiesta.

“The five-door, five-
seater Mondeo hatchback
with the 1.6 TDCI
114bhp turbodiesel and
the well-specced
Titanium X trim costs a
competitive 24,295
and reflects the current
sales situation where
fleet managers are
choosing higher grade
cars for their drivers as a
perk to offset downsizing
to a smaller engine.
As the old saying has it:
it’s a good deal when all
parties benefit
...”
During the first eight months of 2011, private sales slumped by 16.3%. But fleet sales have risen by 3.3% and now account for 52.9% of all new cars registered in the UK.

In the upper-medium sector, Vauxhall's Insignia is the clear market leader having notched up 31,000 registrations from January to the end of August but the trusty Mondeo is still more or less holding its own with 16% of sales in this sector.

While some new cars users have downsized to reduce their tax liabilities and to improve fuel economy, others cannot for a variety of reasons
needing a larger car to carry passengers or they just like the extra space and comfort, especially if they are high-mileage company car drivers.

They may also like the higher levels of equipment associated with big cars although smaller cars are increasingly being fitted with high-tech driving aids to make downsizing less painful.

I have just had an extended spell behind the wheel of the well-specced five-door, five-seater Mondeo Titanium X hatchback running the 1.6 TDCI 115 (114bhp) turbodiesel engine.

The price of this model is a competitive 24,295 and it reflects the current sales situation where fleet managers are choosing higher grade cars for their drivers as a perk to offset downsizing to a smaller engine. As the old saying has it: it's a good deal when all parties benefit.

Residual values for higher grade models fitted with lower emissions are also better because when these models enter the used-car market, demand from retail customers is expected to be strong. Higher residual values also mean lower lease and contract hire rates so that too is good news.

Seventy-two percent of Mondeo customers choose the five-door hatchback models (17,705-27,855) over the cavernous estates, which also have the new 1.6-litre engines. Estate prices start at 18,995 and top out at 27,800.

Because it is so well known I'm not going to dwell on the core appeal of the Mondeo suffice to say that it offers a very roomy interior, is great to drive, comfortable, has loads of standard equipment and it now looks thoroughly modern.

Titanium X spec is a company car user's dream, providing all the features to make a working week less stressful behind the wheel. For a start, you get an upgraded interior with leather upholstery, two-way electrically-adjustable front seats, power windows and door mirrors, AirCon with climate control, heated/cooled front seats, Quickclear front windscreen, parking sensors (front and rear), advanced Bluetooth with voice recognition, cruise control with speed limiter, auto headlights and wipers, DAB radio and multi-speaker sound system, on-board information computer, electronic stability programme and an intelligent protection system operating a comprehensive array of airbags.

“Whilst the performance
is never going to excite,
the fuel economy
showed more promise:
the average 48.6mpg
during my various test
miles covering
motorways, A and B roads and the usual and unavoidable stop-start town traffic is not to be sneezed at.
Plus there’s the potential
to cover over 1,000
miles on a single tank
of fuel
...”
In addition there are a number of extra-cost options and option packs including touchscreen navigation and driver assistance features such as blind-spot alert and lane departure warning.

Comfort and convenience functions aside, the heart of owning or running this Mondeo is all about its frugal and less financially taxing engine.

With 114bhp and 199lb ft of torque coupled with the high gearing, performance is best described as 'functional'. And with a six-speed manual gearbox, pulling away from walking pace in second gear
for instance, a rolling move away from a roundabout is sluggish.

Constant gearchanging is called for to keep the engine in its optimum power band on winding roads or to pass slower traffic. However, once at cruising speeds on major open roads or motorways, the performance is fine and relatively quiet.

Whilst the performance is never going to excite, the fuel economy showed more promise: an average 48.6mpg covering motorways, A and B roads and the usual and unavoidable stop-start town traffic.

This figure is nowhere near the official Combined Cycle 65.6mpg which, as most people now know, the industry obtains in rolling-road laboratory conditions. However, another figure
114g/km of CO2 is a definite upside: 0 road tax in the first year followed by 30 per annum for the second year onwards. And the icing on the cake for company car drivers a very low BIK tax penalty of just 13%.

Against? Sluggish acceleration, especially from low speeds. And while the real-life fuel economy does not match the official figures,
it's still impressive for a car of this size and spec.

On the plus side, this ECOnetic Mondeo is effectively the 'Little and Large' of the new car market: low tax, large comfortable interior space and a huge boot (540 litres) plus the potential to cover over 1,000 miles on a single tank of fuel.
David Miles

Ford Mondeo 1.6 TDCI 115 ECOnetic Titanium X Hatchback | 24,295
Maximum speed: 112mph | 0-62mph: 11.5 seconds | Overall Test MPG: 48.6mpg
Power: 114bhp | Torque: 199lb ft | CO2 114g/km