Are you thinking about buying a 2011, 2012, 2013 or 2014 Ford Mondeo or Volkswagen Passat estate?
Top Notch Cars owner and director Christian Lyne has lined up the 2 major heavyweights of the family estate car market in order to compare them and try and find out which car has the most impressive stats. Read his review to find out which of these giant estate cars weighs in with the most bang for your buck!
Expert advice from Christian on these popular diesel estate cars
In this article we will go through the pros and cons for both, believe me it’s a close call all the way through. There is less than a Cigarette paper between them. Take a rain check on that pint down the pub and get reading!
To make comparisons fair and true I am only going to consider vehicles registered between March 2011 and March 2014. This age range will represent the best value for money used cars available on the market today. Most people reading this will be looking for a great deal, reliability, piece of mind…. That only comes with buying a relatively new vehicle and surprisingly mileage is not the first thing to consider!
First Up - The Brand: Volkswagen vs Ford
Let's take a look! The Germans are very handy at building a solid car. This being said, Ford have had plenty of practice since the early 1930’s and market places have become fiercely competitive over the last 5 years. Ford have certainly come a long way since the "One key fits all" and "Fix or repair daily" jokes. It could be said that Volkswagen have had their brand tarnished by the emissions scandal in recent months. All manufactures change in public favour and these two are no exception.
Ford have pulled out of the rental market. Have a look next time you drive past a Hertz or Europcar, you won’t see many cars bearing the Ford badge. You will however find plenty of Volkswagen badges. Volkswagen have produced huge numbers of vehicles in the last decade and have been a volume seller. Ford have seen their market share slide somewhat, but have produced some fantastic vehicles to push them into a dominant position when it comes to considering a family car.
Next we assess the looks of the Passat vs Mondeo
Visually the Volkswagen Passat has the edge. Those squared off lights and the aggressive finish to the shape really is pleasing to the eye. Most vehicles will bare a dark charcoal colour interior. Light interiors are to be avoided at all costs. You will never keep it clean and they give the car an "old appearance". Even at entry "s" spec level you get an attractive set of 16" alloy wheels included. The SE and Sport models come with 17" alloys and front fog lights as standard, which adds to an impressive stature that you will be proud to pick the children up from school in.
The Ford Mondeo in contrast is starting to look a little dated, even with the facelift bumpers, updated wheels and simplified dashboard cluster coming into effect late 2010. The Mondeo does have something rather large in its favour though. No Pun intended. The boot is HUGE and beats the overall size of the Passat by some distance. Lots of people choose their next vehicle based on the amount of clutter they can get in the boot and the Mondeo is a winner, not just in this comparison but against most estate vehicles.
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Drivability - which one will you prefer?
The Mondeo has a much softer and lazy feel to it when driving. The gearbox it much smoother through shifting and takes less effort than the Passat to slip through the gears. The suspension is softer which does increase the chance of under steer should you want to feel like Lewis Hamilton when taking the children to football practice on a Saturday morning.
The 140 bhp Mondeo engine does feel slightly less powerful than its German competitor, however if you can find the 163 bhp model it is very much on par. The Passat has a much more assertive clunk to most things. There's the gear change, that re-assurance that it has come out of one gear into another, that firm press down with the palm of your hand to engage reverse, it really feels like a driver’s car.
As mentioned previously the engine does seem to pull very smoothly through the rev range until around 4000 rpm where it will naturally Plato off due to the delivery characteristics of a diesel engine.
Mechanics, which one will go the distance
Both cars have fantastic reliability reputation but the Mondeo comes up trumps in overall costs. There is very little that is common to be replaced in all of the Mondeo range. We have seen the rear brake discs and pads corrode when sat for any length of time. This can leave a "pad footprint" and prove to be very difficult to get rid of. Rear brakes are not relied on as much as the fronts and will give a loud humming noise when braking from high speeds.
The Passat does have issues with the duel mass fly wheel & clutch, the water pump does start leaking prematurely and the front brake discs do tend to to need changing more regular than is to be expected. The flywheel issue will depend on who has been driving the vehicle. We have seen vehicles with 150,000 miles on the clock at just 3 years old, huge tow bars visually present but are still on the originally fitted flywheel. We have also seen 40,000 mile 3 year old vehicles that are on their third flywheel. As a general rule of thumb, if the car sounds sweet without extra engine noise you will be fine.
Volkswagen know about the water pumps and have subsequently made this item very cheap to buy and improved the design. You will need to replace the cambelt at the same time as the water pump. Volkswagen recommend on the 2.0 TDi 140 bhp engine for vehicles registered between March 2011 and March 2014 that the cambelt is replaced at 140,000 miles or 5 years old. The 1.6 TDi engine is recommended to have the cambelt replaced at 133,000 miles or every 4 years. A good garage will charge around £300 to do this job. To replace the front discs will cost around £100 and will need doing around every 40,000 miles.
In contrast the Mondeo is due for cambelt replacement at 125000 miles or once every 10 years. We have never seen a water pump on the mondeo prematurely fail. Top Notch Cars in Thetford, Norfolk will do most cambelt replacements for £300 inclusive of parts & labour. Give us a look if you are thinking of having maintenance done on your car.
Costs - let's not mess about here!
There are many things to consider when taking the "cost" of a car into consideration. The screen price is not always the most important factor in purchasing either a Mondeo or a Passat. In this article we are talking about previously owned cars, it’s very different to buying brand new and should be looked at with a complete package in mind.
Before talking about the "vehicle price" let’s take a look at other cost factors to consider that might be overlooked on the car if you are simply being led by that magic figure in the window. Tyres, brakes, recent service items, warranty and hidden administration costs.
The Mondeo has an entry tyre size of 215/60/16 and goes all the way up to a 205/40/18. The Passat runs a very similar tyre size so costs will be roughly the same. Remember, a brand new set of Michelin tyres for either car can cost up to £1000 if you have the big wheels. It’s a huge factor in Final Price.
Brakes: To be considered more on the Passat rather than the Mondeo, but a new set of brakes can be worth £200 to you in the long run. If the item is listed in the service history it will save you later down the road.
Service items: If the cambelt and water pump has been replaced early on the Passat this will save you £300 when the car hits 140,000 miles or 5 years old. Seeing a Mondeo that has had the cambelt replaced early is unlikely so you will have a £300 bill at 125000 miles.
Administration costs: Some dealers have an admin charge on top of the purchase price to do the paperwork. Dealers who list this are very unlikely to move from the advertised price so consider this before making a journey if you like to have a deal.
Road Tax Volkswagen have been a little naughty of late, telling porky pie's about how clean, or dirty their engines are. This has worked in their favour. Volkswagen have sold more cars and the good news for owners is that the emission tax band will not be changed on any car that is already registered within the UK. The road tax on a Passat is £30 a year. None of us could believe they managed to get their car to perform so well AND keep the CO2 numbers to 120 GKM. The Mondeo doesn't do to bad either, a more realistic £105 per year cost. Unfortunately Ford didn't think of making a computer that knows when it is being tested to get the emissions down and match the Passat. Tongue in cheek!
Purchase Price: Make sure you have read the Costs section before reading any further. It’s very important that a used car is purchased as a complete package and all things have been considered within the purchase price. A 3 year old Ford Mondeo 2.0 TDCi estate with Titanium spec with around 80,000 miles on the clock will cost around £8000. Surprisingly a 3 year old Volkswagen Passat 2.0 SE TDi estate with around 80,000 miles on the clock will only cost around £8500, just slightly more! Spec and colour will make a difference and if you are wanting a lower mileage example the price will go up considerably. Volumes of vehicles available will be much lower. A good specification vehicle will also add value to your purchase.
Desirable Spec There are plenty of specification options available that are very desirable on both the Mondeo and Passat, the most popular being a full leather interior. Leather upholstery makes the vehicles both easier to keep clean and can add a prestige look to the interior. A full leather interior on a Mondeo is extremely rare. A modern vehicle rarely comes with a factory fitted Sunroof but adds an airy feel to the cockpit and a pleasant breeze in the summer months. The sunroof is more common on the Mondeo. The Mondeo is available with Adaptive cruise control. This allows the vehicle to increase and decrease its speed to keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front. It does all this without the aid of a driver. Again this is a rare extra to find and is only available on the Mondeo. Satellite navigation systems are available on both cars but is standard on the Passat if you choose the “sport” model. The Mondeo navigation can be a little more user friendly to start with but once you’re up and running both systems work well.
The Verdict - Is it a points decision or a knock out win?
We know that the Mondeo is cheaper and is less likely to have further expense on maintenance. The smart money gets spent on a Mondeo. But hang on, life is all about experience, weighing up if your enjoyment is worth more than the pound note in your bank account. For an extra few pennies, bit of mechanical knowledge and savvy car searching you can get yourself a great performing, outstanding value for money German built Passat. We know which one we would rather have, do you? Take a look at topnotchcars.co.uk if you’re in the market for Volkswagen Passat or a Ford Mondeo.
Throughout his career Christian has battled to achieve trust and improve clarity within the car industry. He has accumulated considerable praise from the very people who have purchased vehicles from him. To read about their experiences, search for Top Notch Cars Thetford on Google. To follow Christian's blog join the Top Notch Cars Facebook page.