Is price enough to tempt you into a hybrid Mondeo?
Battery pack hits boot space; diesel MPG is as good if not better
I'll start at the back this week if you don't mind and try to work my way forwards. Why give up the habit of a lifetime?
The reason I'm bringing up the rear, initially, is that the first thing I did with this week's review car, the new Ford Mondeo hybrid, was to lift the boot lid to sling in a couple of small bags.
I was taken aback by how much space had been stolen by the hybrid battery pack stored behind the rear seats.
There can be a price to pay for 'green' driving sometimes. I feel it's a stiff enough one as far as boot space is concerned in this Mondeo. This version would struggle to pass the two-golf-bags test whereas the 'ordinary' Mondeo boot would accommodate the first green as well.
Speaking of cost... Ford quote a 'transaction price' for cars. That's what you pay when all reductions are taken into account. The reductions could be a special 182-promo, for example, while in the case of this hybrid, a €1,500 VRT rebate comes into play, too. My good source on Ford explained: "So, the list price for a car might be €32,000 but when you factor in reductions, the transaction price is €26,000." I can't decide if it's a step forwards or not, but it is better than the shifting-goalposts haggle-fest that goes with the 'list price' system currently in vogue.
In the test car's case it all boils down to you paying €35,280 (includes €1,500 VRT rebate) for a Vignale spec, seriously well decked out, big, roomy hybrid saloon (boot-space invaders aside).
In that top trim, the test car was smart and comfortable. But I'm not a fan of their idea of madly poshing-up a Mondeo with refined leather/special stitching and all sorts of ould stuff, calling it Vignale and charging heavily for treating it like a pampered, premium luxury saloon.
A Mondeo, for me, will always be a well-specced, decent-drive, large family/fleet car; not a BMW 3-series rival.
All that aside, however, we were so comfortable over four long journeys we bothered little about what they called it. The brother swore by his front seat; he felt better getting out in deepest Connacht than he did getting into it in Wicklow. I had electric lumbar support on mine and was of similar disposition. What price no back pain?
However, all such considerations pale alongside one critical fact. This car is all about the relationship between its significantly lower price and your decision (or not) to opt for hybrid or diesel - 'old' or 'new' motoring worlds?
On the financial face of it, the hybrid wins hands down. Directly compared with the equivalent diesel (and trim), it costs around €9,000 less. Only it is not that simple. The current price, you see, is a special 'launch' initiative. In other words, it is subsidised - for now. Still €9,000 is a shocking lot of money.
More realistically the gap between the lower-priced, more popular Titanium trims in diesel and hybrid isn't as wide. In reality it's about €4,000 when a special 'discount' on the diesel is factored in. Still a lot of money. And road tax is €180 vs the diesel's €270. It all makes a strong case for hybrid.
Against that, I wouldn't say this hybrid was exceptional on fuel. I got 5.8l/100km over nearly 900kms of, mostly, long drives. It's good but a diesel would easily do that, too, if not better it, and you wouldn't lose boot space. The hybrid did shine in town driving where the battery bank made a stronger case for its intrusive inclusion.
Our test car had a lot of creature comforts (Vignale trim is opulent as I said) as well as being technically laden. It was a thoroughly decent, comfortable drive - though it is not as sharp a handler as the previous generation.
I was impressed with the eCVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) as there was little of the pick-up 'boom' you often get with such systems.
Alas, the sad thing about the Mondeo and its ilk, is that these traditional, large family/fleet saloons are being increasingly shunned by former buyers now opting for SUVs.
It's a pity because the likes of the Mondeo is far better to drive than most SUVs in its price range.
Yet the presence of a hybrid, especially with those major, if temporary, price benefits, must surely give the Mondeo renewed relevance.
I don't know if it's too little, too late or the start of something big but there is a real option now.
Which brings me full circle: from boot to sticker price. If I had, or could get, the money would I buy one?
There is the lower price (a lot of car for the money), room, drive, lower tax and fuel consumption, but I'd feel a bit hard done by with the diminution of boot space and, to a lesser extent, by the fact there are excellent diesel saloons, SUVs and crossovers out there. I'd probably pass - this time.
But for many people who fear for diesel's future and especially trade-in values, the option of a large, hybrid saloon is as good a way as any of joining the brave new era of 'electrification'.
It's coming for sure - albeit slowly and in stages - but with a hybrid like this, you'd be taking one giant step along the way to tomorrow's world.
FACTS & FIGURES
Ford Mondeo hybrid saloon 2-litre Vignale automatic, 187PS total output, 35kW lithium-ion battery, electronic continuously variable transmission (eCVT), 88kW electric motor, claimed 4.2l/100km, 91g/km, road tax €180.
Price: €35,280 (after €1,500 VRT rebate); with options: €35,430. Mondeo entry: €28,845.
Titanium spec includes: 16ins alloys, SYNC3/8ins touchscreen; sports seats; rain sensing wipers; parking sensors front/rear. Vignale adds: 18ins alloys, rear-view camera, adaptive LED DRLs, Vignale body styling, cruise control, heated front seats.