Ford Mondeo

Finally, Ford has a 5 stars car according to our rating. This is Mondeo.  

Mondeo used to be our favourite mid-size sedan before the introduction of Peugeot 406. Being a "World car" which sold in Europe as well as USA as Ford Contour / Mercury Mystique, Ford invested a record-breaking 6 billion US dollars into this project. With little surprise, it won the European Car Of The Year 1994 and also the ten best of Car and Driver magazine every year thereafter in the other shore of the Atlantic.  

Compare with the original Mondeo, the revision in 1996 made vast improvement. Firstly, the harsh four-cylinder reworked for lower NVH. Secondly, by using different springs and dampers, not only body control has been further enhanced, the ride also became more supple and quiet. Remind you, the original Mondeo was already praised of first class handling. This time it became even better. Thirdly, the once cramped rear leg room is benefited by a thinner front seat, accompanied with improved material used in seats and facia, Mondeo's cabin became a better place to be in. Finally, new styling details in the bumpers, grille and lamps coincide perfectly with the sleek body, thus look better than ever.  

Its handling was once overtaken by Peugeot 406, but now Mondeo has regained the lead, just. Ride is still a little bit less supple than 406, but who can beat the best French car in ride ?  

The 2.0 litres Mondeo has no really short-coming, but the 2.5 V6 can exploit the real potential of the chassis. Amazingly, this excellent engine is designed and built in Detroit instead of Germany. Its name "Duratec" indicates exceptional durability but we are more impressed by its power, smoothness and quietness. It gives the Mondeo very good performance of nearly 140mph and 0-60mph in 8sec. It is not expensive, too.  

Overall speaking, Ford Mondeo is a very dynamical sedan with respectable refinement and comfort. 

The above report was last updated in 1998. All Rights Reserved.

Ford Contour SVT

American Ford's Special Vehicle Team, or SVT, modified Contour (american version of Mondeo) into the hottest version. The 2.5 V6 now pumps out 195hp and 167lbft, supports by stiffened suspensions and 205 tyres. According to Road & Track road test, 0-60mph takes 7.2sec, top speed is expected to be 143mph. 
The above report was last updated in 1998. All Rights Reserved.

Mondeo ST200

For nearly 6 years, Mondeo remains to be the best handling bread-and-butter saloon in the world. So it is quite unbelievable that Ford didn't create a high-performance Mondeo as a successor to the mighty Sierra RS Cosworth. The closest effort was a version called "ST24", which is powered by the Detroit-made 168hp Duratec V6. However, the ST24 got neither a sport-tuned suspension nor the extra power to rival the 200-horsepower Club members, say, Honda Accord Type R, Vauxhall (not Opel) Vectra GSi, Toyota Altezza, Alfa 156 V6 and Subaru Legacy turbo. 

Nevertheless, don't forget there is a 195hp Contour SVT which has been on sale in the US for some time. What a pity it was never offered in other continents, therefore when European journalists are reporting the latest ST200 they didn't notice the relationship between it and the Contour SVT at all. Basically, the ST200 is a Contour SVT styled and tuned to meet European's expectation. Its engine, in particular, is the work of the Detroit Special Vehicle Team, which is easily visible from the same black-colored intake manifolds. In the end, you may say the basis of Contour, bar the V6, was donated by the European Ford.  

Saying the Mondeo ST200 as the replacement for RS Cosworth is not true - its 0-60mph time of 7.5sec is no where near the fastest Sierra's 6.2 sec due to the lack of turbocharged torque curve. Ford would say the ST200 is a modernized fast yet refined sports saloon. Open the bonnet see a 2.5-litre Duratec V6 tuned to 202hp / 6500rpm and 173lbft / 5500rpm, quite respectable considering the engineers just applied some old techniques - improve air intake and exhaust flow. The intake is helped by a lighter hollow camshaft featuring higher valve lift angle, then has the cylinder head polished. The exhaust is improved by adopting twin exhaust pipe to reduce back pressure.  

The torque curve seems peaky, but actually there is as much torque at low speed as the ST24, offering the ST200 a very well manner in city. On the contrary, someone may complain there is not enough urgency at low speed to distinguish it from the ordinary V6 Mondeo. Everything seems normal until 4,000rpm, at which the engine starts showing its extra punch all the way to the 7,000rpm cut-off. There is louder noise from the thermoplastic manifold as well as the twin exhaust, but no where as beautiful as Alfa V6 or as engaging as the revvy VTEC from Accord Type R. The Ford is still a Ford. 

Various modifications to the suspension geometry, springs and dampers improved handling considerably. The harder setting improves body control while making steering feels sharper, also thanks to the 2.7-turns lock-to-lock steering. Low profile 17-inch 215 tyres generates abundance of grip but the overall ride is still admirably smooth. Ford engineers chose not to stiffen the suspensions to the extent as Honda's Type R in order to provide a better compromise between ride quality and handling. It may be correct for most customers, but couldn't please those want ultimate sharp chassis response as found in Type R. One thing all people wouldn't praise is the braking, which is still the standard one used in ST24, not powerful enough to handle the increased performance. This could be the biggest disappointment of ST200. 

Now it is clear that the "ST (horspower)" badge is not ultimately as sporty as the Cosworth, especially when the ST200 is equipped with virtually every luxury items as found in the highly specified ST24 Ghia - four airbags, air-con, electric leather-trimmed Recaro seats and 6-CD changer. The interior doesn't differs much from normal Mondeo, just with blue dials and some fake carbon fiber decoration inserted to doors and shifter knob. The Recaro front seats has thicker back support, hence less leg room for rear passengers (last facelift the Mondeo was installed with thinner front seats to improve the much criticized rear leg room).  

The exterior is much better than ST24 and Contour SVT. Sport image is much lifted by the new oval grille, front and rear bumpers. All of them has mesh grille at the air intake / outlet just like Jaguar or Bentley. At the rear, just the tiny boot spoiler, twin exhaust and mesh air outlet at the bumper distinguish it from the ordinary Mondeo. We miss the Cosworth wing very much. 

The ST200 is available in the form of both 4-door sedan and 5-door hatchback. 

The above report was last updated on 12 Jun 99. All Rights Reserved.


Mondeo 2.0 Ghia
Mondeo ST200
Front-engined, Fwd
Front-engined, Fwd
L / W / H / WB:
L / W / H / WB:
4556 / 1758 / 1372 / 2704 mm
Inline-4, dohc, 4v/cyl.
V6, dohc, 4v/cyl, 
variable induction
1989 c.c.
2544 c.c.
128 hp
202 hp
133 lbft
173 lbft
F: Strut; R: Multi-link
1336 kg
1410 kg
Top speed
125 mph*
145 mph (claimed)
0-60 mph
9.8 sec*
7.5 sec*
0-100 mph
29.3 sec*
20.1 sec*
* Tested by Autocar

Mondeo: related models

Ford Contour SVT

Mercury Mystique
Ford (USA) Contour and Mercury Mystique are just re-badged Mondeo with minor styling tweaks. The Contour was renowned for great handling in the States and loved by most enthusiastic driver and journalists, but sales figure is disappointed. It is deemed to be too small for the American taste.  

Mercury Cougar coupe (or simply named as "Ford Cougar" overseas) is heavily based on the Mondeo platform, with the same floorpan, suspension, running gear, engines etc, in other words, it could nearly be called as a Mondeo coupe.

The above report was last updated on 30 Dec 99. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright© 1997-2009 by Mark Wan @ AutoZine