Ford's latest ST-Line trim comes with a bodykit, sports suspension and sports seats. We've driven it to see what it's like
What do we have here?
The Ford Mondeo has been a constant on our roads since 1992 and now, it is into its fourth generation.
During that time, it’s had a dramatic fall from grace as sales have plummeted from over 127,000 at its peak to now little more than over 20,000 per year.
This has had little to do with the Mondeo itself, it certainly didn’t become a bad car overnight, but there are two key elements to consider. A – buyers have flocked to more luxurious brands and B: people want SUVs.
Something that has been missing from the Mondeo range since 2002 has been a sporty version as the popular ST220 was never replaced. This ST-Line looks to rectify that and make up for lost time.
Sadly, the Mondeo isn’t available with a high-performance petrol engine like the Fiesta and Focus ST, instead, there’s a 2.0 Duratorq TDCi with a six-speed manual gearbox. It’s offered with two power outputs, 148bhp and 177bhp. Both of which are available with an optional six-speed automatic gearbox.
Go for the most powerful version with an auto box and you also get all-wheel drive. We’re testing the higher powered version with a manual and front-wheel drive.
Unique to the ST-Line is a sporty body kit, sports suspension, sports seats, perforated leather steering wheel, sporty interior details and there’s a choice of 18in or 19in alloy wheels.
All ST-Lines get dual-zone automatic air conditioning, SYNC 3 with 8" Colour touchscreen, Ford DAB Navigation System, cruise control, power folding door mirrors and a quick clear heated front windscreen.
How does it drive?
The sports suspension is naturally firmer than the standard car’s ride but it’s rarely uncomfortable. Driving along a main road or motorway and you’ll find it’s extremely comfortable and feels planted on the road. Even venturing onto back roads and country lanes does little to change this. A large pothole or sunken rainwater gulley is absorbed well, although it’s noticeable at a higher speed when you hit smaller and continuous road imperfections, as it can become a little fidgety.
Push on and the Mondeo Estate ST-Line remains remarkably composed. Corners produced little body roll and there’s loads of grip to exploit, even without the all-wheel drive system fitted.
At low speed the steering is usefully light, making it simple to park this rather long car. As speeds rise, though, the steering firms up and provides a good level of feel.
The engine is pretty weak and will be more in favour with company car drivers for its low CO2 emissions of 119g/km that it will be with private buyers. It accelerates with a silky grace but lacks significant power and despite 0-62mph taking just 8.4seconds, never really feels that swift. In fifth and sixth gear it can bog down meaning downshift are required when leaving lower speed areas or if you plan to overtake. However, there is some torque steer when accelerating hard in lower gears.
The gearbox is good to use, as it has a short throw and feels mechanically solid.
Its engine lacks refinement. There’s always a diesel grumble in the background, while engine vibration can be felt through the gear lever and foot pedals and it’s boomy under harder acceleration.
What's it like inside?
The dashboard is a little drab, mainly due to the darkness of the materials used. More neatly designed, if a little fussy, is the instrument panel, although there are few other design cues to excite but nothing to offend either. What is obvious is that the Mondeo feels well made, nicely screwed together with soft touch plastics and tight panel gaps.
Head room is decent but no more than that, while the seats offer lots of adjustment, although you do end up feeling rather high up even with the seat in its lowest position. The steering wheel adjusts well for tilt and reach.
Between the seats, the armrest doubles as a deep storage bin, while the doors offer more storage space and behind the ‘floating dash’ there’s additional room for your nicknacks.
New to this car is the Sync 3 8.0in infotainment system. It’s quick and easy to use with a crisp colour display.
In the rear, there’s loads of knee and leg room while the head room is decent. Between the seats, there’s a fold-down armrest featuring two cup holders and a standard fit ski-hatch.
The boot is simply ginormous. It’s flat, square and has a low loading lip making it perfect for shifting lots of waste to the local tip, or playing home to several sizeable dogs. Under the boot floor is a space saving spare wheel.
The 2.0 Duratorq TDCi 180PS and has a claimed economy of 62.8mpg on a combined cycle while it emits 117g/km of CO2.
That means it falls into the 23% company car tax band and road tax costs £30 a year.
The ST-Line gets a 23E-T1 insurance grouping.
Ford Protect Classic Plan Warranty covers the car for three years/60,000 miles, whichever comes first and you get one-year roadside assistance which covers the UK and throughout Europe.
You can pay to extend the warranty to four years/80,000 miles or five years/100,000 miles for £180 and £350, respectively.
Service plans are also available covering either two or three years and cost £560 and £760, respectively.
There’s plenty to admire about the large Mondeo waggon. It has a comfortable ride, drives well, is economical, has low CO2 emissions and has more space than a Transit van (ok not quite).
It fails to excite and the diesel feels slow and grumbly.
With a powerful petrol engine, this car might just capture the imagination but for now, it remains a great company car choice.