My first impression of the Mondeo was one of severe discomfort as I toiled to get the tilt adjustment of the seat right. I never quite managed it but it became adequate if not perfect. I always had that nagging feeling it was either to low or too high; someone with slightly shorter or longer legs, or someone who's a touch less fussy would probably be perfectly happy with it.
The other thing I disliked intensely was the huge square gear knob. What kind of warped ergonomist designed that, I will never know and for a couple of days it coloured my judgement of the gear change and whole car.
With a little more time I began to realise the gear change, despite the pressure cooker sized knob was actually slick and accurate and in league with the light control pedals, allowed easy access to the cars limited performance.
...And easy it needs to be, the Ford diesel unit is on a par with the Vauxhall 1.7 item in performance terms, i.e. no power till the turbo kicks in a mild boost for 1500 revs and then into a wall of noise as the power dies and it's time to change up. In the Mondeo, it at least has a more muted sound than the Vectra, but its still pretty poor. Surprisingly (or maybe not), once up and running above 60, its performance seemed to improve and it will hold 80+ all day. Uphill and down-dale motorways seem to be its natural habitat. Maybe Ford tuned it directly to run best at the common speed of the average rep.
|This engine really does spoil the Mondeo experience, because apart from the ship anchor, the rest of the car really is a revelation. Years of in-built Ford bigotry were stripped away by this very disarming vehicle. Back to back with a Vectra, it may look the same on paper, but on the road the Ford is light years ahead.|
... And nowhere more so than the handling/ride equation. The Mondeo pulls off the neat trick of riding very comfortably but handling with a level of precision, that leaves the Vectra looking decidedly dated. I really was surprised by the Mondeo's road manners, the switch to front wheel drive for Ford mid range cars seems to be paying dividends if all Mondeo's are like this.
The Mondeo's interior does a good job of exaggerating the amount of space on offer. It really does feel like a big roomy car from the inside. It's also quite nicely put together.
|The materials may not quite be to Audi/BMW standards, but the design is more than competent and doesn't jar and irritate you constantly. My only real niggle would be that the centre arm rest isn't usable for people of my (average) height and would seem suitable for six foot plussers only.|
The boot is also a decent size on this 4 door model, but the 5 door would add even more practicality, and there's always the voluminous estate for those who need even more.
Word is that the Mondeo has a tough reliable motor, and with it also being a great seller, it should mean plenty of good quality second hand units for an awfully long time. If the spares/servicing prices are the usual Ford standard (i.e. cheap) then you really can't go wrong. But with the current vogue for hammering diesel, you really might be better off with the 1.8 or 2.0 petrol in the long run.
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