First seen in the latest Focus launched earlier this year, the trend of offering smaller but more powerful engines is continuing at Ford with the introduction of the 1.6-litre Ecoboost petrol, for its fleet and family favourite, the Mondeo.
The 158bhp version of the 1.6-litre EcoBoost engine was a gem in the Focus, feeling much more powerful than its 1.6-litres would suggest. But, how would it fare in the bigger Mondeo? I spent a week with the range-topping £23,100 Titanium X hatch to find out.
The current Mondeo dates back to 2007, with just a minor face-lift taking place last year to keep it current.
The Mondeo looks best from the front and the restyle gave us a more upmarket, enlarged lower grille and a smaller upper grille; plus a set of daytime running lights. At the side of the Mondeo, there are the same chiselled flanks with distinctive wheelarches.
Changes at the back are limited to new LED rear lights, a revised bumper design and reshaped valance with built in rear spoiler.
Our test car was fitted with one of 10 engines available for the Mondeo, the 158bhp 1.6-litre EcoBoost petrol. EcoBoost green tweaks include a Start & Stop system which means emissions of just 158g/km and 41.5mpg fuel consumption figures. Despite the Mondeo's size and space, this Ford should prove to be competitive to run which is important to the corporate sector that makes up the majority of sales.
The Mondeo is a big car and with its thick roof pillars, all-round visibility isn't great. I was thankful for the standard fit and rear parking sensors and the optional rear camera. The Ford has light, responsive steering that feels far sportier than you would think of a car in this class would be.The steering is at ease on the motorway too.
In spite of its big body, the Mondeo has to be the driver's car compared to its rivals. Always feeling agile, there's also plenty of grip from the optional 18-inch wheels.
The Mondeo's ride is usually refined, but I wouldn't recommend going for the optional 18-inch alloy wheels fitted to the test car, as the low-speed ride is a bit on the crashy side and there is more road rumble in the Ford's cabin.
Inside, the Mondeo's solid dash is starting to show its age and the quality of the interior trim isn't quite up to Passat standards. Thankfully, the switchgear is logically placed and feels sturdy.
The 1.6-litre petrol engine is smooth and eager, but after a week with this car I felt I could have done with a bit more power because of the extra weight of the Mondeo's bigger body.
The six-speed manual transmission is slick enough and considering its size, performance is willing; 60mph comes up in 9 seconds and the top speed is 134mph.
The Mondeo's doors open wide and the raised driving position is comfortable. There's plenty of legroom in both the front and back, plus the 528 litre boot is a practical shape and a good size.
In range-topping Titanium X trim, the Mondeo would appear to have all the kit a family will ever need. Air-conditioning, cruise control, a radio CD system with eight-speakers, remote central locking, electric windows, alloy wheels and parking sensors, all come as standard.
Our test car was fitted with the touchscreen navigation system (£1,250) that includes Bluetooth and USB connectivity for iPods. Sadly, the maps are not as detailed or as easy to read as the latest Volkswagen Group systems. I also had problems pairing my iPhone, but the USB connectivity was excellent.
To sum up, newer rivals might be catching up and the 1.6-litre Ecoboost does feel a little underpowered in the Mondeo. However, if you are after a fun car to drive in the family class with low running costs, the Ford is still the car to beat.