Ford's 1.5-litre version of Mondeo offers better value

The Ford Mondeo 1.5 EcoBoost has a relatively small engine but boasts attractive features such as a panoramic sunroof.
The Ford Mondeo 1.5 EcoBoost has a relatively small engine but boasts attractive features such as a panoramic sunroof. ST PHOTOS: MARK CHEONG
The Ford Mondeo 1.5 EcoBoost has a relatively small engine but boasts attractive features such as a panoramic sunroof.

Ford's 1.5-litre version of Mondeo offers better value despite not being as spritely as its 2-litre twin

When car dealers downsize the engines of models they are already selling, it usually means one of two things.

They could be trimming the equipment level to make the cars more affordable to reach a wider audience; or they could be responding to a similar move by a competitor.

In the case of the Ford Mondeo 1.5 EcoBoost, it is for both reasons - the entry-level four-door model priced at $153,999 is now within the range of the 2.5-litre Toyota Camry priced at $151,888, the leader in the mid-sized sedan segment.

But a smaller engine means an unavoidable poorer performance. Compared to the 2-litre power plant, the smaller turbocharged engine has a significantly lower output - 160bhp versus 240bhp, 240Nm versus 345Nm - and a slower 0 to 100kmh sprint time of 9.1 seconds (versus 7.9).

  • SPECS / FORD MONDEO 1.5 ECOBOOST FIVE-DOOR

  • Price: $158,999 with COE


    Engine: 1,498cc 16-valve inline-4 turbocharged


    Transmission: Six-speed automatic with paddle shift


    Power: 160bhp at 6,000rpm


    Torque: 240Nm at 1,600-4,000rpm


    0-100kmh: 9.1 seconds


    Top speed: 214kmh


    Fuel consumption: 7.2 litres/ 100km


    Agent: Regent Motors

In daily driving, however, the difference feels inconsequential. The nearly 1.5-tonne car is neither under-powered nor does it move like a slouch.

But to enjoy driving the car without feeling the power deficit of a smaller engine, drivers can make two changes to how they drive.

First, the six-speed automatic gearbox offers two drive modes: Drive and Sport. Forget about Drive and use the Sport mode exclusively. This delays upshifts and the car feels livelier.

Second, use the paddle shifters liberally. One or two flicks of the paddles allow drivers to merge confidently into traffic.

But such spirited driving comes with a catch. Over a two-day 169km test-drive, the car recorded a fuel consumption of 11.4 litres per 100km, instead of the official 7.2 litres per 100km figure.

Price-wise, the 1.5-litre Mondeo is $21,000 cheaper than the 2-litre version. For car buyers, it comes down to how much less equipment the lower price tag buys, besides the smaller power plant.

Thankfully, the car retains several of the attractive features of its larger-engined sibling. It has the same expansive panoramic sunroof that makes the car feel spacious and upmarket, as well as features such as digital instrument cluster, adaptive LED headlamps and an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth.

Some frills are gone. It has smaller 16-inch sports rims and a regular cruise-control function instead of one that changes the car's speed in response to the vehicle in front.

While those two scaled-down features should not affect most drivers, buyers could bemoan the factory-fitted fabric seats and front seats that are manually adjustable instead of electrically.

Without motors, fine adjustments to the driving position are harder to make, but this is not to say that a comfortable driving position cannot be found.

As for the seats, Ford agent Regent Motors can re-upholster them with leather without extra cost. Having said that, the factory- fitted fabric seats do not feel cheap and are covered by a five-year warranty, whereas the locally fitted leather seats are covered for only one year.

Car buyers drawn to Ford are not brand snobs, but are attracted by its value-for-money proposition. In this sense, the 1.5-litre car is better value for money.

It should not erode sales of the 2-litre model either. Rather, it gives more choices to those looking at the likes of the Toyota Camry and Volkswagen Passat.

That makes downsizing a potentially winning move for the Mondeo, for both the buyer and car dealer.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 07, 2015, with the headline 'Value for money'. Print Edition | Subscribe