The Ford Mondeo MK3 is still a common sight on today’s roads, and with good reason. It still looks pretty sharp today, despite being launched nearly 20 years ago. It’s very well proportioned and well balanced. If you’re lucky enough, go for the ST220 version (which may well be a classic in the making).
The vehicle being reviewed here is a standard 2.0 Zetec hatchback, which is probably the sort of version that should keep most people happy. The interior is cleanly laid out, and spacious. All the controls fall easily to hand and feel solid. Seats are excellent for long journeys. A previous 360 mile round trip to Manchester still had me feeling fresh at the end of it. An even more recent trip to France was superb and comfortable. The dials are clear and everything is just so. Not obtrusive, not showy. Just a well designed and functional place to sit. And in when you’re sitting in traffic, this is really what you want.
This version has the 1999cc Duratec HE petrol, which provides 146bhp. This isn’t a huge amount for a car that weighs around 1.4 tonnes, but you won’t be holding people up on your travels. The combination of throttle, clutch and gear-change is good enough that it’s not difficult to maintain progress. Some overtakes may require a bit of planning though, as well as hope. 0-60 takes around 9 seconds, and if you’re patient enough, you will see over 120mph. The 3.0L ST220 will go past 150, and is 2 seconds quicker to 60, for those interested.
The Mondeo has always been a car that drives well, since its launch in 93. Ford have not dropped the ball with this one. It has an agility that belies its size, so the relative lack of power isn’t such a drawback. The steering communicates what the front wheels are doing, and the ride is very well controlled. It is a comfortable motorway car, with ample stability and ambient noise that isn’t tiring. The whole experience is very smooth. Recent trips to other parts of the country have left me emerging relaxed and calm, and this wasn’t always the case in the MK1 Focus that this replaced. The car even makes me feel more sophisticated, like I can’t drive in tracksuit bottoms any more. I might deduct a few points for that actually.
Our family actually own two of these. My dad has had his (since new) for 17 years and I replaced my old Focus with one about 3 months ago. They are both the same spec, except mine is the facelifted version. My dad saved around £4000 from the list price, as it was just about to be facelifted (a top tip for those after a newer car). I did run his car for a couple of years, and I found that servicing was around the same as the Focus (allow £100-200 if going to a main dealer/garage).
My car wasn’t very expensive, at around £1300. I bought it knowing that I would need to work on it. But since I am fond of the odd semi-project car, this didn’t put me off. I’ve done most of the maintenance myself, and parts are broadly the same price as on the Focus. The engine is broadly the same physical size as the one in the focus, but the bonnet is larger. Therefore, one has more space to get work done under the hood. The fuel economy was about the same as the Focus; The car has a more efficient engine, but weighs more. Insurance was slightly higher, but this is certainly an affordable car for those who need a bit (lot) more space.
Like many modern cars, it does have a fairly specific issue with some plastic flaps in its intake manifold. I’ve removed them from my car, for reasons that will be come very clear in my dedicated post on the issue. Very much worth a read, and taking appropriate action could save you the cost of a new engine. And engines are not cheap.
Who’s it for?
This is another car that will suit most people who want car enjoyment without too many worries. The Mondeo has been a popular choice for years, because it covers so many bases. You won’t feel short changed if this was your only car. It is easier to park than its size suggests, it drives superbly and even my wife commented on how smooth the car is. It provides an extra layer of sophistication to journeys that the Focus MK1 can’t compete with. The car has space, it’s great value, it still looks sharp, and it’s easy to run and live with. For many people, this car should be a no-brainer.
MotorKwirks Value Rating: 90%
We have had one Mondeo in the family for 17 years and it’s still going strong. This is despite me being at the wheel for two of those years. You can pick up a good one for around £1500 and that makes it excellent value. It takes its mileage well, and I know of more than a few that have got past 200,000 miles without much more than routine maintenance. A great car that’s as solid and reliable as the best of them, when taken care of.
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