Review: Ford Mondeo (1996 – 2000)

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Facelift of original. Criticisms of original very good Mondeo overcome, fine combination of ride, handling, performance, economy, and cheap maintenance.

Limited cockpit storage for odds and ends. Four-speed autos are short-lived. Manual clutches expensive to replace.

Ford Mondeo (1996 – 2000): At A Glance

When you first drive the new Ford Mondeo it feels fantastic. Then it gets better. Quite simply, it out-classes everything else in its class, and most of the next class as well.

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What does a Ford Mondeo (1996 – 2000) cost?

List Price from £24,605
Buy new from £21,497
Contract hire from £233.29 per month

Ford Mondeo (1996 – 2000): What's It Like Inside?

Get in and the first thing that strikes you is the '90s sportiness of the cockpit. Lots of black and silver plastic, and that's just the steering wheel. Ford's oval clock has been revived, slightly incongruously now that we're all used to reading the time in a car digitally. Obligatory cup and can holders fall to hand. And it takes no time at all to adjust the fully adjustable seat and steering wheel to the perfect driving position.

There's a 'Quickclear' screen to shift winter morning condensation, an easily adjustable air conditioning system, and a radio with both a proper volume knob and steering wheel controls. Start the engine and the 125bhp 1.8 litre is at least a lot quieter than the old model. Extensive engine sound deadening sees to that. But it also seems to go better with a new-found perkiness about town coupled to the ability to haul what is quite a large car to a fuss-free indicated 130mph.


Child seats that fit a Ford Mondeo (1996 – 2000)

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What's the Ford Mondeo (1996 – 2000) like to drive?

The ride quality suffers only slightly from the adoption of minimum size 16" wheels with low profile 205 x 55 tyres (expensive Michelin Pilots on the test car). But the handling remains the same safe, sure and crisp recipe as the old Mondeo with plenty of steering 'feel-back' to tell you exactly what's going on. Only on very long sweeping bends does the steering sometimes become less than perfect. Wind noise is very well suppressed, right up to that magical 130mph and possibly beyond, but we had to lift for traffic. Strangely, the car is a lot noisier at 80mph than at 90mph and over. Yet even cruising extensively in the 90-110mph bracket, overall fuel consumption worked out at a creditable 33.35mpg which indicates that keeping speed down to 80-85 should result in 40mpg.

There were no complaints from the back seat, which is hardly surprising given rear legroom to rival the old Peugeot 605. This really shames new models such as the new Audi A4, BMW 3-Series and Volvo S60. Unlike the old model, the four-door saloon is better looking than the five-door hatch, especially in 'Nantucket Grey metallic'.

It's also likely to be reliable. I've been driving an auction-bought previous-model Mondeo for two years now with no trouble at all. And the new car carries a three-year warranty.

The new Mondeo was pipped at the post for European Car of the Year by the Alfa 147, which says more about the judging system than about anything else. I loved the car. My wife loved the car. My kids loved the car. Our whole family loved the car. I'd obviously prefer a 2.0 litre to the 1.8, but the 1.8 would do me fine. I could pay a lot more for a more expensive car, but I doubt it be a better one.


What have we been asked about the Ford Mondeo (1996 – 2000)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

What's the best way to start my standing 1996 Ford Mondeo?

My 1996 Ford Mondeo been standing for three years. What is the best way to approach starting it again? I've fitted a new battery but it didn't start. The previous owner said it needed a fuel pump and I'm not sure what's the best way to proceed.
The first thing you'll need to do is check for leaks underneath the car - this will give you an idea of what's perished/leaking and what isn't. If you just want to get it running, then you'll need fresh fuel, a fully-charged battery, and a fair wind. Even though it's only been standing a few years, you could be at the mercy of a few things like a stuck clutch or that failed fuel pump. If it was a non-runner when you bought it, then I'll hazard a guess that the car needed more than a new fuel pump. You don't say whether it's a petrol or a diesel - if it's the latter, you'll probably need to bleed the system to get it going. If you're a bit out of your depth, then call in some help.
Answered by Keith Moody
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