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Ford Mondeo 2001 Road Test

Mon, 14 Jan 2002

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.

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.

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.

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