My Car 2015 - Best Family Car: Passat v Mondeo
Big hitters step into the ring, but who will be crowned champ?
Not since the famous 1974 bout between undefeated world heavyweight champion George Foreman and former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, has there been such a rumble in the jungle.
Two of the motoring world's biggest hitters are about to take on each other for the title to be king of the road in the large family car category for 2015.
In the blue corner, stands the Ford Mondeo - which has been punching below its weight in the last number of years when it comes to sales against its deadliest rival.
But with a long-overdue model now throwing its weight around on dealer forecourts, the Mondeo might just have what it takes to dethrone the king of the ring.
Standing proudly in the red corner is the new Volkswagen Passat, the undefeated champion of the last number of years. This lean, mean, driving machine, might be the favourite in this battle royale, but we have certainly got a close match on our hands. Comfort: The Mondeo feels more spacious inside and even though it's only slightly longer, the cabin feels more airy.
The Mondeo may have a more space in the cabin, but the Passat has a sporty feel as you sit much lower. This gives good headroom for all passengers and enough legroom for those in the rear seats.
Round one: Mondeo (Mondeo 4.5/5 Passat 4/5)EQUIPMENT: The Mondeo and Passat are really best served when you choose a top-spec model. We tested the Titanium Mondeo and Highline Passat and both are loaded with equipment. You get the usual goodies in both like air con, cruise control, and alloys to name a few, but the higher-spec models are loaded.
The Passat trumps the Mondeo when it comes to standard goodies on the high-spec model. You get leather seats with the front ones heated, park distance control, three-zone climatronic air con and a 6.5-inch touchscreen.
The extra equipment you get in the Passat, especially the heated leather seats makes the Volkswagen feel more upmarket.
Round two: Passat (Mondeo 3.5/5 Passat 4.5/5)
handling: For years, the Mondeo had the better of the Passat on the road. The new one just got better and for such a big car, it really behaves like a sporty hatch.
The new Mondeo has integral link rear suspension and an all-new platform and body structure combination. It also gets electrically-assisted power steering for the first time.
It's a big task for the Passat to live with the Mondeo on the road, but somehow, the Volkswagen boffins have nailed it with this model. The Passat feels sporty and really copes with uneven roads and twisty bends.
The gap has closed significantly and the Mondeo no longer has the bragging rights when it comes to handling.
Round three: (Mondeo 4/5 Passat 4/5)
PERFORMANCE: The most popular choice when it comes to engines will be diesel. Both Ford and and the 2.0 units offered by both are excellent.
There is very little between them as they both have around 150bhp, with the Mondeo having a little more torque at 350Nm, as opposed to the Passat's 340Nm. Acceleration is brisk in both and they perform admirably for such big cars.
Again, when it comes to refinement, it's very hard to split the two as they both deliver highly-refined engines that are both smooth and powerful.
Round four: Passat (Mondeo 4/5 Passat 4.5/5)PRACTICALITY: The interior on both models has improved on outgoing models but we felt the new Mondeo offers the best overall space for a family of five. Rear seat passengers have excellent leg and head room and the boot is enormous.
It's strange that on paper, the 541-litre luggage area is smaller than the 586-litre in the Passat, but the hatchback aspect of the Mondeo means loading is much easier.
Round five: Mondeo (Mondeo 4.5/5 Passat 4/5)RUNNING COSTS: Taking away the initial near €35k price tag, the running costs on both the Mondeo and Passat match that of much smaller cars. The Passat is cheaper to tax at €190 a year (Mondeo €200) and they both claim to deliver excellent fuel economy.
We drove both cars on the same 150kms route and the Mondeo averaged 5.8 litres per 100kms while the Passat was slightly worse off with 6.0 litres per 100kms. There's not much between them, and you an expect a range on both to be around the 900kms mark.
Round six: Passat (Mondeo 4/5 Passat 4.5/5) VERDICT: There is no doubt that whichever of these cars you choose as your next family car, you'll be in for a treat. They have both been improved massively and set the pace in the segment. The Mondeo may be a long time coming, and a design that now feels two years old, but it's impressive in the flesh.
That being said, the design of the new Passat is sublime and it is overall the better looking car. It has the look of the sleek CC and the interior is stunning. With the Passat being the class leader for years now, we just feel it has what it takes to retain its belt as the best large family car on the market.
Winner on points: PASSAT (Mondeo 24.5/30 Passat 25.5/30)