Saturday 1 October 2016

Ireland's 'baby boom' fuels rise in people-carriers on Irish roads

Ford try to woo Beemer buyers with posh Mondeo

Published 02/09/2015 | 02:30

Ford Galaxy - ready for the Irish baby boom
Ford Galaxy - ready for the Irish baby boom
Ford Mondeo Vignale
Ford S-Max

When a car company cites high birth rates you know you're into 'people carrier' territory. That's what Ford did this week when they rolled out two people carriers to meet anticipated increased demand from 'baby boom' Ireland.

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And for those enjoying the economic lift, there was the poshest Mondeo to date.

First off was the S-MAX. This is sleek and low-slung and aimed at families who have an occasional need for seven seats (Ford claim there are 32 seating combinations). Nice, nice cabin in this and it was a lovely drive. Among its elements are hands-free tailgate and automated folding 2nd and 3rd row seats.

It is powered by a 1.5 EcoBoost petrol and four versions of the 2-litre TDCi diesel. There are just two trim levels: Zetec (dual-zone air con, parking sensors, MyKey) and Titanium (cruise control, LED daytime running lights, auto lights/wipers/ high beam/SYNC2). Prices start at €35,760 for the 120PS 2-litre diesel. The 150PS costs north of €3,000 more. All-wheel-drive adds €3,000 or so. Automatics now cost just €2,000 more than manuals.

Titanium trim doesn't have the 120bhp diesel but is the only one with the 160PS EcoBoost petrol.

The Galaxy is larger than the S-MAX and starts €3,000 above it. There's more room with good space for seven and luggage. They reckon it's more for families with teens. It always was a great drive. Still is.

Zetec and Titanium trim levels mirror the S-MAX except it has tri-zone air con. Engines are the same too.

It starts at €38,760 (120PS); the 150PS version costs €3,000 more; AWD costs €3,000 more and is €2,000 above manual. Well-finished car but I thought the doors were too heavy to push out.

The Mondeo Vignale is an ambitious ploy. I'm still sceptical. Basically it's super luxury treatment (there will be an S-MAX Vignale next June/July). Across Europe, Ford have found demand for such luxury in the Mondeo segment.

Among the perks is free collection of the car for servicing and maintenance for life - even if you buy it second-hand.

All cars get an extra check over after leaving the factory (100 specific points are examined for quality - door aperture, trim fit etc). And every buyer has their 'personal relationship' manager. Vignales (it's called after an Italian coach builder) will be sold from just four Ford Store outlets - one in Cork, two in Dublin and one in the West.

I drove it without being overwhelmed I must say. There were premium hand-stitched leather seats, SYNC2 with 8ins touchscreen, active noise control (thicker glass), 18ins (also 19ins premium alloys) and 10-way power seats.

The 2-litre EcoBoost 180PS is the lead-in engine; there is a 240PS as well.

And there is a 2-litre diesel 180PS and 210PS in manual and auto.

Prices start at €43,900. Yes it's price territory occupied by the Audi A4, BMW 3-series, Lexus IS, Mercedes C-Class, Jaguar XE so Ford have a battle trying to 'conquest' premium-brand customers.

Ford here concede it's not going to be easy but they are "looking forward to the challenge".

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