Test drive: Ford Mondeo Zetec 1.6 TDCi Econetic 115PS 6-speed manual

Test drive: Ford Mondeo Zetec 1.6 TDCi Econetic 115PS 6-speed manual

The TotallyMotor Verdict


Ford has been busy eco-engineering new engines of late. Names have changed – mainly to feature the term “Eco”, capacities have reduced, and the latest turbocharging technology has been liberally applied, in the ever-important quest for further fuel efficiency. Right now, you’ll find the very latest in Ford’s engine tech under the hoods of their most popular models.

I recently sampled the Ford Fiesta Econetic 1.6 TDCi 95PS with a claimed combined economy of 78.5mpg, finding it surprisingly “spritely” considering its very long eco-legs, while the Ford Focus hatchback in 1.6-litre (petrol) Ecoboost trim I drove earlier this year was so smoothly torquey and turbo-lag-free, that you’d be forgiven for thinking that there was some kind of techno-sorcery involved! 

Now it’s the turn of an altogether bigger car to get the small-capacity, diesel-turbocharging treatment; the fleet and family favourite Ford Mondeo, with an impressive-sounding 65.7mpg of quoted combined fuel economy and 114g/km of CO2, from its 1.6-litre, 115PS (113bhp) Econetic engine. 

The Mondeo Econectic has been specifically engineered to stretch the time between fuel pump visits, and that’s all good, but hopefully not at the expenses of what is widely agreed to be one of the most sweet-handling and enjoyable cars to drive in its class. A week-long TotallyMotor road test of commuter-crawling and quick motorway cruising put this more frugal Mondeo through its eco-paces.

Test drive: Ford Mondeo Zetec Econetic 1.6-litre TDCi 115PS

First impressions:
The current Ford Mondeo has been with us since 2007 and has had recent refresh that included – most importantly – new engines; including this 1.6-litre Econetic nestled up front in this test car. 

This £20,795, Zetec mid-trim level Mondeo is quite mild mannered to look at with its 16-inch, double-five-spoke alloys and pricetag-friendly standard bodykit. However, she has been jazzed-up a little to the tune of £925 with a sparkly-in-the-sun Ice White Pearlescent paint job (£725) and B-pillar-back dark privacy glass (£200), and as you can see from our autumn sunshine pics, standard features like chunky wheel arches, a squarely pronounced high-shoulder line and cheeky nip of a rear spoiler means she’s no ugly duckling. 

Into the interior:
Ford is right on the money as far as driving position is concerned, with recent drives of Fiesta and Focus delivering ergonomic comfort of the highest level, and this Mondeo is no different.

It’s a spacious car to start with – if you drive one, take a look over your shoulder and the rear passenger compartment looks huge – and the multi-adjusting driver’s seat, including the crucial – for this taller tester, at least – (electric) seat height adjustment, and a steering wheel that reaches far towards you, enabled me to locate the perfect spot from which to pilot. 

The Daphne Cloth Ebony seating is subtle in design and offers reasonable support without too much side-bolster restriction; meaning all shapes and sizes should be catered for here. The boot is a cavernous 540 to 1,460-litres. 

Our test car’s steering wheel gets a wrap of comfy leather, the large clocks are simply easy to read and there’s a red-highlighted in-dash readout from which to monitor miles-per-gallon, and many other info bits and bobs. 

Other interior-tech focused on the man or woman on the move include digital dual-zone climate control, cruise control and Bluetooth with voice control. These are features that are useful, rather than just fancy for the sake of it. 

The drive:
This is where the Ford Mondeo comes into its own. Mix in the highly adjustable driving position and a calm, collected and precise chassis and you’ve got a family car / exec. cruiser that’s balanced, grippy and poised. 

Now, some of this might not matter on a bumper-to-bumper every morning commute, but a car that is (and feels) connected to the road is already mechanically engineered for safety, and that’s before you take into account the latest ESP (electronic stability programme) and EBD (emergency brake assist) software featured as standard on this Mondeo Zetec.

But, even without the acronyms and tech-speak, the Mondeo is a smooth and very quiet cruiser on the motorway and more than capable, chassis-wise, for a blast down your favourite lanes. 

So, how does the eco-engine shape up? Actually, pretty well, especially when bearing in mind the extra eco-focus of this little 1600cc diesel motor. 

Backed-up by a turbocharger that’s there to add pulling power, or torque, without the need for extra engine capacity, the Econetic engine does a good job hauling a big car.

There is a little lag in power as we wait for the turbo to spin, make its boost; force-feeding the engine to make that extra torque, but with that process is in motion – and making the most of the snicky 6-speed manual gearbox – the Econetic Mondeo will make decent progress. Refinement is good, too. 

The turbo-lag issue is only really noticeable when pulling away from stop or low speeds, and an easy way to solve the issue is to dial-in some extra revs as you roll the clutch out. This loads the engine against the clutch, spins the turbo that bit harder (with exhaust gas), and makes the power. Just a little adjustment in driving style. 

Ford will quote a combined economy figure of 65.7mpg. We achieved around 54mpg on our mixed bag of various driving conditions, during a full week of test-driving, but that was with a careful focus on trying to maximise the mpg. 

Enjoy that sharp chassis with some more spirit and you will see your frugal figures drop, especially if you regularly explore the 112mph top speed or 11.5secs to 62mph sprint time.

With CO2 emissions rated at 114g/km, road tax is nowt for the first year and £30 per year thereafter, while company car drivers will be very interested to see the 13% benefit in kind tax rate. 

Ten second sum up:
The Ford Mondeo 1.6-litre diesel Econetic isn’t the quickest in town, but with the right, right-foot control it can return impressive economy figures, whilst dodging a fair amount of cash in various taxes. The £21,795 base price also buys you a spacious, refined and very comfortable car that’s still got a fresh style to it, and all of these reasons together will keep it at the top of the class. 

Prices and availability:
The Ford Mondeo range starts at £17,795 OTR for the 5-door Mondeo Edge 1.6 Ti-VCT 120PS, rising to £30,695 for Mondeo estate 2.2 TDCi 200PS. Price as tested, £20,795, plus Ice White Pearlescent paint (£725) and rear privacy glass (£200). Available now. 


Words & pics: Daniel Anslow

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