Fun family car with a slight identity crisis

Tom Bird tries to define just what the Ford Mondeo is and why you should seek it out.
Fun family car with a slight identity crisis
By Tom Bird
Fri 18 Apr 2008 04:00 AM

Tom Bird tries to define just what the Ford Mondeo is and why you should seek it out.

The Mondeo is a bit of an anomaly in the line-up Ford offers in the region. Walk around a showroom and you'll find everything from the Edge crossover SUV, Mustang muscle car and even a New York taxi-spec Lincoln Town Car vying for your attention.

But look past those and the handful of ageing American SUVs and you'll find the European-spec Focus and the all-new Mondeo hiding in a corner.

Why Ford Middle East does this is beyond me - dealers in the US would give their right arm to sell cars developed by the knowledgeable Ford of Europe rather than the nasty cars that the stuck in the doldrums Blue Oval US forces onto them.

What first strikes you about the Mondeo is its quality - fit and finish inside and out is better than you'd find in a Merc C-class. The seats are wide and comfortable, but also have enough lateral support to keep you in check around the corners.

The centre stack may have rather too many buttons, but everything does what you'd expect it to do and you're never left scratching your head as to how to change the radio station.

It's a sharp looker - flowing lines have replaced the square-edged looks of the previous generation car, and it's grown in every direction.

This makes the interior plenty comfortable for even five adults - something that can't be said of the likes of the BMW3-series. The boot's huge too.

But the Mondeo's piece de resistance has always been in the driving, and this fourth-generation car does nothing to sully that supercar-scaring reputation.

Some may scoff at the front-wheel drive architecture, but Ford knows what its doing. The recently retired chassis guru Richard
Parry-Jones was the driving force behind the original Mondeo in 1993 and got the legendary Jackie Stewart to hone the car's handling.

The latest car has been developed under the same ethos - mass-market doesn't have to mean dull.

So the Mondeo is calm, unfussed and stress-free eating up the kilometres on the motorway, but find a more challenging road and it really shows its true colours. It's tight, composed and entertaining.

The steering wheel has just the right amount of weight, the automatic 'box is quick to react and the brakes are strong and dependable.

Whilst drivers of similar-sized (but more expensive) BMWs, Audis and Mercs dance a merry jig as their ‘sports-suspension' gets confused over poor surfaces, you and your band of happy passengers will be enjoying the exemplary ride that the Mondeo gives.

It may not be a tyre-smoking, oversteering lurid animal - but when you've got a family to transport around the hard-fought streets of the region you can be assured the Mondeo is one of the best places to be - it scored highly in the EuroNCAP crash tests, and also delivers fun for all the family at the same time.

Need to knowPrice:$20,500

Engine:2261cc 16v 4-cyl, 170bhp @ 6500rpm, 160lb ft @ 4250rpm

Transmission:Six-speed automatic, front-wheel drive

Performance:10.2sec 0-100kph, 208kph, 9.3L/100km

On sale:Now

Rating:4/5

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