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Old 04-30-2007, 01:00 PM
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Arrow Ford Mondeo

Ford Mondeo

There could be serious trouble brewing in the office car park: Mondeo Man, that butt of humour and waggish wit, is about to take a great leap forward to put the image and prestige of the boss??s car in real danger of being eclipsed.

In a single bound of bold design and engineering excellence, the new Mondeo in saloon, hatchback and estate car forms sets new standards for the rep??s delight, taking it to a precocious level of smooth-riding, spacious comfort that puts the car??s distinctive snout into the rarefied atmosphere of ???posh cars???.

This may all sound like a dithyrambic ramble, but you had better believe it because this car ?? if, of course, it proves as good in service as it was on first acquaintance ?? is set to be a class benchmark for customers?? expectations.

Within a mile, the surprise of its distinctive looks and size (the saloon version is a shade larger than the one-time company director-level Scorpio) turns to the near-shock of its capabilities. Extraordinarily quiet, very comfortable, with ?? good heavens ?? properly designed seats. And this was the diesel version, its 2.0litre engine the result of joint Ford and PSA Peugeot Citro?n collaboration.

???It was crucial for the new car to have more presence, more character with kinetic design inside and out, giving a feeling of power and performance,??? Steve Adams, the senior executive responsible for the car??s engineering, said. ???And to have emphasis on steering, handling and agility, interior width and leg room, positioning it on an altogether higher plane, with premium quality.???

Could this really be about a Ford, descendant of the Cortina and Sierra, which knew their places in the social scale and made no pretensions of social climbing?

It isn??t perfect. A reflection in the windscreen was distracting and with standard suspension the car feels soft through corners with just too much understeer. Ford reckons a majority of owners will be happy but there is a bargain ??150 sports suspension option that solves it for those who aren??t. Alternatively, ??650 buys an electronic system for selectable comfort, normal and sports settings.

With either of these, the car??s road behaviour is sharp and safe. It tackled a long, fast, corner-strewn test route with absolute confidence. The steering is right for a big saloon, the brakes powerful and the six-speed gearbox an example of what shifting should be like, although the diesel has sufficient torque to reduce the need.

The standard equipment list is comprehensive even for the 1.6litre entry-level Edge (??15,010), including trip computer, follow-me-home lights, air-conditioning and an inhibitor to prevent misfuelling. You get a lot of real estate for your money, plus a combined fuel consumption of 39.2mpg.

Engine choice covers four diesels and five petrols; 2008 will see a flexifuel 2.0litre able to burn petrol and/or bio-ethanol. Safety systems are comprehensive and include seven airbags and a driver knee-bag. Options cover adaptive radar-based cruise control, adaptive front lights, tyre pressure monitoring system and run-flat tyres.

Although more than 6ft, I spent a very comfortable 70 miles in the back of a Mondeo. Wind noise is minimal. Luggage capacity is huge and the estate car has a maximum of 1,745 litres ?? about 45 litres more than the previous model. Dogs will give it the paws up.

So all this adds up to office car park superiority and potential boss-concern. Although Ford believes that a far higher percentage of new Mondeos will be chosen by private buyers, the majority will still be business purchases.

But if the office car park superiority stakes are becoming a problem and the boss looks uneasily at what lesser mortals might be driving, there??s an ace to be played; they just tell him ?? or her ?? that the Mondeo is built in Belgium. The ensuing sigh of relief will be heard by anxious ears as far away as Munich and Stuttgart. But really, it just doesn??t matter.


Car Ford Mondeo 2.0 TDCi Zetec 5-door

Engine 2.0litre four-cylinder 138bhp turbo-diesel; torque 320 Nm at 1,750rpm (340 Nm with overboost)

Transmission Six-speed manual (auto option)

Performance 0-62mph in 9.5sec, top speed 130mph

Fuel consumption combined 47.9mpg

CO2 emissions 156g/km

Price ??18,400

On sale June 23

Alternatives: VW Passat Looks smart, drives well

Vauxhall Vectra Practical, good packaging

Mazda 6 Quality, Mazda??s good reputation

Toyota Avensis Toyota reliability, unexciting

Source: [url=http://driving.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/driving/new_car_reviews/article1713731.ece]Times Online[/url]
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