Car-of-year Mondeo `worst for pollution'

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The Independent Online
The Ford Mondeo, voted Car of the Year in 1994, has been branded the "worst buy" on environmental grounds after extensive emission testing in Sweden and Germany.

The European Federation for Transport and the Environment (T&E) said the Mondeo, the most popular company car, "performed worst out of 31 models tested for emissions".

The Brussels-based T&E also accused Ford and other manufacturers "cycle beating" to pass EU emission tests. The companies prepare their cars to perform well during the EU testing process, T&E said, while allowing cars to pollute heavily outside the test cycle. Fast acceleration, climbing or towing heavy loads resulted in much heavier emissions than in the tests.

The Mondeo and Mitsubishi Galant were found to have the worst "cycle beating" characteristic, producing large amounts of pollutants including carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons. The cars which performed best included the Citroen AX, Fiat Panda and VW Golf. The standard European test monitors cars at constant speeds in urban conditions. In real-life situations such as heavy acceleration and going uphill, the T&E tests came up with striking results.

There were large differences between models, with some performing well under all conditions and others having heavy emissions in all circumstances. Some cars, like the Mondeo, had low emissions in the EU tests, but "exceptionally high emissions under circumstances not covered by that test".

T&E also said motoring journalists who pick the Car of the Year should take environmental performance into account. Gijs Kuneman, T&E director, said: "There are enormous environmental differences between models and consumers have a right to know them."

A Ford spokesman said that it was "a bit rough" to conclude that the Mondeo was the worst car. He categorically rejected the accusation of "cycle beating", saying "our cars past the most rigorous tests with flying colours".