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First Drive

First Drive: Ford Mondeo Hybrid

The story:
Ford has previously only sold its Mondeo hybrid in saloon form, but customer demand has seen that expand to the more popular estate bodystyle.
Category:Upper medium
Key rival:Volkswagen Passat
Ford Mondeo Hybrid Estate Vignale
MPG:46.3 mpg
On sale:Now

The move away from diesel engines, whether logical or not, has left some fleets scratching heads about where to go in propulsion terms, with petrol being a significantly less efficient choice.

Ford has been selling the hybrid Mondeo in saloon form for the past four years, but the four-door shape isn’t loved by UK buyers, who prefer a hatchback or estate. Good news – Ford has now added an estate to its hybrid offering.

We’re talking hybrid as in so-called “self-charging” where the car replenishes the battery on the move, and can then run at low speed on electric alone. It combines a 2.0-litre petrol engine and battery-powered electric motor to offer a total of 187hp, and in estate form it has a 111g/km emissions figure, 5g/km higher than that of the more aerodynamic saloon.

The estate costs £1500 more than the four-door; interestingly, it is the same price as the 190hp diesel model, but that car sits a huge nine Benefit-in-Kind bands higher thanks to its 136g/km emissions figure and punitive four-band BIK penalty for diesel vehicles.

This makes the hybrid a no-brainer by comparison, although not necessarily if load-lugging is a primary concern. Thanks to the need to package the battery, the luggage area drops from the diesel’s 755 litres to a claimed 633 in the hybrid, all because the boot floor has to be significantly higher. Seats down, the hybrid is the same 122 litres smaller, and when you open the tailgate the boot floor is obviously much higher, rising up from the lip rather than being flat.

The driving experience is good, with the occasional bout of low-speed silent running being pleasant, although the battery-only driving mode is sometimes a little trickier to coax into life than it is in other hybrids such as the new Honda CR-V or various Toyota self-charging models.

It’s also worth noting that the car has no direct hybrid rivals, because the only similar powertrains are in the likes of the smaller Toyota Corolla Estate, Prius hatchback or previously mentioned CR-V. The only upper-medium hybrid models are of the plug-in variety, such as the Kia Optima Sportswagon, which gives the Mondeo a little niche of its own.

The hybrid powertrain is available on only the Titanium Edition or, as driven here, top-spec Vignale models, so it’s not cheap. Still, you’re getting a well-equipped estate that’s more tax efficient than anything in the class that you don’t have to plug in.

Paul Barker

The verdict

Handy option for fleets, albeit not cheap, and diesel may well still be the better bet for higher-mileage drivers.