Ford readies for life with new ‘flagship’

Ford readies for life with new ‘flagship’

In communications to journalists leading up to the launch of the new Mondeo, Ford NZ’s communications manager Tom Clancy called the car their ‘flagship’ – a sure sign Falcon is now pushed very much into the back of the company’s mind.

The long-awaited new model is rolling out to dealers this month, where it will become the model to push to those not just wanting a medium-segment vehicle, but those wanting a bigger Ford as well.

Managing director Corey Holter is obviously expecting big things.

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“The all new Mondeo continues Ford’s plans to shake up the market in every segment and offer New Zealanders whole new levels of reliability, smart technology and driving excitement,” says Holter. “We did it for utes with the Ford Ranger and now the new Mondeo will continue that trend in its segment.”

How much they are expecting is unclear, the company was shy on NZ sales expectations at this week’s launch in Canberra.

The company is expecting the new car to take on competitors outside of its existing segments.

“We have our segment competitors of course, but even New Zealanders with a luxury or premium brand vehicle on their shopping list should be taking a look at the new Mondeo,” says Ford New Zealand marketing manager Chris Masterson.

Helping sales will be that the pressure on supply will be coming off. Even late into the life of the old model, supply was constrained, but with production moving to Valencia, supply should free up.

While in a long steady decline, the medium segment has been holding steady over the last year at 5% of the overall market – and will gain as large vehicles continue to disappear from the mainstream market.

In Australia, Ford quotes Camry heavily as its key competitor – in New Zealand it is more likely to be Mazda 6 in Mondeo’s sights.
New Zealand Mondeo shoppers will have access to three levels of specification, three engines – two turbo-charged petrols and a turbo-diesel – and hatch and wagon body styles. Petrol hatches will be the most popular combination.

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The engine range opens with a 149kW and 345 Nm 2.0-litre EcoBoost petrol on the the Mondeo Ambiente, or optional 132kW and 400Nm TDCi diesel on Ambiente and Trend. The Trend and Titanium models will offer a high output 177kW version of the EcoBoost engine.

A six-speed automatic transmission is standard across the range. No manual is coming to New Zealand despite being offered in other markets.

The company is claiming fuel economy of 5.1l/100km for the diesel, 8.2l/100km for the base petrol, and 8.5l/100km for the more powerful version.

The Mondeo is the first model for New Zealand to be built on Ford’s new global CD-segment platform, debuting Ford’s new integral link rear suspension configuration.

Utilising high-strength steel, Ford says the body is 10% stiffer than the outgoing model. For the first time the model gets electric power steering, teamed with ‘torque vectoring control’ – placing power at a selected wheel to assist steering and handling.

Ford is pushing the car as a technology and safety leader, and is making much of an exclusive safety technology for now – inflating rear seatbelts standard across the range. The belts are designed to operate like conventional seat belts with the added ability in the event of a collision to deploy a ‘mini-air bag’ over an occupant’s torso and shoulder in 40 milliseconds.

The inflatable rear seatbelts feature spreads crash forces over five times more area of the body to help reduce pressure on the chest and control head and neck motion for rear seat passengers.

“Inflatable rear seatbelts – now on all our new Mondeos – are a great example of Ford going further for our customers,” says Masterson. “It’s an important and effective new safety feature that customers will appreciate having for their passengers, whether it’s the kids in the back or work colleagues.”

Mondeo also gets an in-house developed pre-collision and pedestrian detection system, using camera and radar measurement, teaming up with blind-spot monitoring and lane keeping monitor and assist systems on Trend and Titanium models.

For those with young drivers in the family, the programmable ‘My Key’ system allows speed and the autodial system to be restricted.

On the technology side, SYNC2 arrives in Mondeo, a voice-activated communications and infotainment system which includes two USB ports, SD card port, iPod and audio/video RCA inputs, bluetooth connectivity and navigation.

Higher models get an LCD dash unit, providing multiple information screens in and around the gauge cluster.

On Titanium models, the Mondeo will park itself in parallel and perpendicular spots – and can also unpark itself from parallel situations.

The Ambiente gets 17-inch wheels, daytime running lights, active grille shutters on the diesel, power heated mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, hill launch assist, load levelling rear suspension on the wagon, paddle shift, cruise control and dual zone climate control.

It also gets ‘MyKey’ and a full count of airbags and braking assist systems.

The Ambiente’s extras include keyless entry and start, adaptive cruise control, power front seats that are heated, auto headlights including auto high beam, rain sensing wipers, part leather, a rear view camera, blind spot detection, active city stop and pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection.

Titanium brings 18-inch wheels, a body kit, panoramic glass roof, power tailgate, adaptive suspension, adaptive LED headlamps, full leather sports seats, power reach and rake on the steering wheel, lake keeping aid and assist, lane keeping warning and a driver impairment monitor, on top of other additions.

Pricing starts at $43,990 for a 2.0-litre EcoBoost Ambiente up to $54,890 for a top EcoBoost Titanium.

AutoTalk had a chance to briefly drive diesel models in Australia this week and came away impressed.

The car rides extremely well considering a relatively firm handling setup, while the 2.0 litre diesel is brisk. More impressive, however, is how quiet it is despite hauling a substantial vehicle.

Accommodation, both front and rear, is spacious, and boots on both the wagon and liftabck appear huge, with decent loading access.

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