Ford has met the hybrid car challenge head on with the recent launch of the Ford Mondeo Hybrid. This is a big car with all of the traditional Mondeo space coupled with a very impressive hybrid drive system that combines smoothness with efficiency as Michael Moroney found our during his test drive.
Ford has stepped up to the hybrid car challenge with a new Mondeo, Ford’s first entry to the hybrid drive market in Ireland. The car is the first of a number of new hybrid and electric drive cars that Ford has in its pipeline of models up to 2020.
Hybrid drive systems are seen as an entry to the final electric car goal. Hybrid cars don’t have the range issues of pure electric cars, while delivering some economy and environmental benefits, especially during spells of low speed city driving.
The Ford Mondeo Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) is a big car and one that you would not instantly consider to be a hybrid sector challenge. The dominant engine power for the Mondeo range is the 2.0- litre turbo-diesel version, so the hybrid drive provides very interesting and new contrast.
For the Mondeo HEV drive Ford has merged a specially designed 2.0-litre petrol engine with an electric drive system that uses two electric motors. One of these motor drives the wheels to support the smooth petrol engine, while the other provides regenerative charging to the 1.4 kWh lithium-ion battery pack which is located behind the rear seats in the boot area.
I found that the automatic gearbox and hybrid drive combination gives a very smooth driving experience, where the change from electric drive to the quiet Ford petrol engine, is as seamless as you could imagine. The acceleration power is impressive and from a driving point of view this hybrid Mondeo has to be ranked as one of the most impressive hybrid cars that I’ve driven.
Ford claims that this combination of a specially-developed 2.0-litre petrol engine and electric drivetrain gives the Mondeo HEV a fuel consumption rate of 24km/litre (4.2l/100km or 67mpg). For comparison purposes, a 2.0 -litre diesel rated at 150bhp combined with a Ford Powershift automatic transmission, comes with a claimed fuel consumption rate of 20.8km/litre (4.8 l/100km or 59mpg). This 15% fuel economy advantage for the Mondeo HEV is absorbed in the diesel/petrol fuel price difference at the pumps, and it now makes driving the hybrid version a real choice.
In practice, I achieved a range of almost 800km on a full fuel tank and that equates to about half of the rated fuel economy figure. Much of my driving was over longer distances which distorts the hybrid benefits a little as these are at their very best in city start/stop driving.
The Mondeo HEV has Ford’s Smartgauge interface which allows you to monitor, manage and reduce fuel and energy consumption. The system has what Ford calls a “Brake Coach” that encourages gradual braking to help return more energy to the battery. An icon beside the car’s dials lets you known when you are regenerating electric power, but it does not dominate the dials so you simply get on with driving.
With the Mondeo HEV Ford has provided all of the benefits of lower emissions in a big car that’s affordable to run compared with traditional diesels. The big car comfort and safety features are all retained in this new Mondeo HEV and you are making a difference to the environment.
The hybrid drive Mondeo is only available in four-door format and in either Titanium or Vignale specification, the latter which I drove. This specification puts the entry price at €36,920 which is competitive relative to diesel versions with a similar specification.
You get a lot of car in the Mondeo HEV for that price with an impressive specification coupled with economy figures that are a match for diesel, depending on your driving pattern.