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motoring: New Mondeo better than ever.

Byline: By Malcolm Robertshaw

EVER since picking up the baton from the legendary Sierra some 14 years ago, the Ford Mondeo has occupied a spot in the UK top selling cars list.

Well over one million of, what was at the time, Ford's first front-wheel-drive car, have been sold in Britain and, despite new models and evolutionary changes arriving along the way, I always had a soft spot for the dynamically sound Mondeo Mark I.

For this was the model which I found attractive and individually eye-catching, Ford designers having neatly side-stepped the look-alike approach followed by so many other manufacturers of cars in the upper medium category at the time.

However, as the Mondeo look changed over the years, I began to warm to its restyling. Now there is an all-new Mondeo and it has a "wow" factor of styling designed to take the newcomer onto a completely new plane.

The truly excellent new Mondeo comes in four-door saloon, estate and five-door hatchback form with Ford expecting the latter to be the most popular UK model at around 72% sales.

Trim levels are Edge, Zetec, Ghia and Titanium X with Zetec and Edge models expected to vie for pole position, Ford's current forecast standing at 33% and 29% sales respectively. Ford has made an impressive range of engines available to the Mondeo, five Duratec petrol engines ranging in power from 1.6-litre 109bhp and 123bhp, through two-litre 143bhp and 2.3-litre 159bhp before topping out with the flagship 2.5-litre 216bhp.

Diesel are a quartet of Duratorq TDCi units, opening up with 1.8-litre 99bhp and 123bhp and 128bhp topping out with the two-litre 138bhp oil-burner.

Standard kit is hugely generous at all levels, the entry model Mondeo Edge including the likes of manual air con, CD/radio with steering wheel controls and MP3 connection, electric front windows, power and heated door mirrors, Quickclear heated rear windscreen, trip computer, follow-me-home lighting, seven airbags and Ford's Easyfuel Capless Refuelling system - which can recognise diesel or petrol pumps and prevent incorrect filling - while standard driver safety aids include switchable Electronic Stability Program with Traction Assist and Emergency Brake Assist.

Some devotees may feel that, like, the latest Focus, the new Mondeo styling does not look quite as adventurous as it might have been. But, with recent Ford models' use of a corporate front end giving way to the more individual look, along with one or two styling cues - with more than a hint of the likes of Jaguar and Aston Martin - the end product is an extremely sleek and classy looking set of family wheels.

The designers have introduced that touch of class to the inside, too, with Ford maintaining its concentration on the creation of quality looking interiors. Fit and finish is of an extremely high standard with nicely grained, soft-touch plastics for dash and door interiors.

Whatever the model, instrumentation is appealingly set out while wood-effect inserts on the Ghia X and silver trim on the Titanium X add to the quality look.

However, I did find the ultra-shiny silver inserts in the steering wheel of the Titanium X model which Ford introduced on the S-Max sportyMPV, something of a turn-off. While the new Mondeo is slightly longer and taller than its predecessor, the width has increased by some five inches.

This added dimension not only adds to the new Mondeo's business like presence on the road but it also enables all occupants to be served by huge amounts of room while the large and well shaped boot in the five-door hatchback offers a generous 540-litres.

Although the wide rear pillars may pose a problem for some, this third generation Mondeo is very comfortable to drive and, with the two-litre TDCi paired with a six-speed manual gear change, there is minimal wind and road noise.

There is 138bhp of maximum power available from this oil-burner and while much of its pulling power comes at low engine speeds, mainly between 1,750 and 2,240rpm, the 0-62mph arrives at a little over nine seconds, top speed translates as 127mph and combined fuel economy is an agreeable 48mpg.

The responsive power steering and excellent Mondeo suspension set-up help to deliver some sharp turn-ins to complement the firm grip and impressive body composure.

With competitive pricing opening up at pounds 14,995 for the five-door 1.6 108bhp Edge and pounds 18,395 for the five-door diesel hatchback plus class-leading space and handleability, the new Mondeo looks well set to become an even more familiar sight than its predecessor.

CAPTION(S):

Wow factor! The new Mondeo looks great and is comfortable to drive.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jun 23, 2007
Words:771
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