Car reviews - Ford - Mondeo - Ghia sedan
Well balanced ride and handling, luggage space, comfortable interior
Room for improvement
Lacks real presence
21 Feb 2001
By TIM BRITTEN
FORD'S Mondeo has been in need of some stimulus of late and the sales and marketing teams are hoping the arrival of the year 2000 specification cars will do the job.
As well as receiving some detail attention that has given the smooth looking, medium size Holden Vectra/Mazda 626 competitor a certain freshness, the range has been augmented with the arrival of the first V6 Mondeo to reach Australia - the unashamedly sporty looking ST24 sedan.
At the bottom of the range exists the newly named Verona sedan model, once known as the LX, while smack in the middle is the renamed GLX model, now tagged as the Ghia.
There is not much to visually identify the latest model but a number of subtle changes do make a difference.
Importantly, Ford has paid some attention to the engine and its mountings in an ongoing battle to reduce the noise/vibration/harshness issue that has always plagued the medium size Ford.
This has included the redesign of the right-hand hydraulic engine mount, block stiffener and inlet and exhaust manifolds, injector mouldings and throttle body.
Noise and vibration culprits such as the air-conditioning compressor, power steering pump and alternator are also mounted on heavier duty brackets.
From an aesthetic viewpoint, most of the changes have been made inside.
There is a splash of chrome on the interior door handles, handbrake and auto gearshift buttons, as well as a touch of fake woodgrain on the dash, plus leather steering wheel and gearshift trim.
There are also new storage bins for the rear doors and a lumbar adjuster for the driver.
Outside, you will have to look hard to pick the matt black rocker panels, a new B-pillar treatment and a painted surround for the Ford oval grille. On closer inspection, you might notice the familiar Ghia badge on the back.
So, overall, the Mondeo is pretty much as before, apart from the cessation of intrusive noises from the engine compartment.
The original Mondeo was canned for its noisy mechanicals and generally praised for its balanced ride and handling qualities.
The new car brings no cause for criticism on the first count and continues with the feel-good road manners.
The slightly long-stroke, "Zetec" multi-valve, four-cylinder, 2.0-litre engine, redlined at 6500rpm, likes to rev but has a decent torque spread as well.
Winding out through the gears in manual versions is no chore at all with the engine actually inviting the driver to add a few more rpm.
Automatic Mondeos are slightly better off in this sense than before as they now have a revised final drive to add a little more punch off the line.
Overall, the four-cylinder Mondeo offers sufficient performance but is not exactly a ball of fire.
The Mondeo's ride and handling remains one of its strong points with the supple all-independent suspension taking good care of occupants over most surfaces.
Only rough-mix bitumen encourages an intrusive rumble from the tyres.
The Mondeo points well and feels stable at cruising speed - an indicator of its European origins.
Braking is well attended to with ABS standard on both Ghia and ST24 models.
The driving position is excellent. The nicely weighted wheel is well placed for a relaxed session in the traffic or out on the open road, and the instrument display and layout also shows the car's European background with a headlight adjustment control and rotary master lighting switch on the instrument panel.
The seats are fine, too, helped along on the driver's side by the addition of lumbar adjustment, and there is handy space in the back seat.
This was a problem area with early Mondeos but was sorted out a couple of years ago by scalloping out the front seat backs to provide extra legroom. But there's no rear centre armrest.
Buyers accustomed to Japanese cars might be appalled at the lack of cupholders coin trays or handy little oddment storage areas.
But there is a deep, lidded bin and a pen holder on the centre console, plus a small cubby to the right of the steering column. And the glovebox is fairly large.
Dual airbags and side airbags are standard, as are anti-lock brakes, climatecontrol air-conditioning and cruise control.
Up back, the hatchback is augmented by a 60-40 split/fold rear seat that defies tradition by handily placing the release catches where they are accessible from inside the boot.
The ignition key also contains a handy remote that operates the hatch lid separately if desired.
Overall, the Mondeo is a competently designed, built (in Belgium) and packaged medium sedan.
Even with the styling improvements to the rear and elsewhere in 1996, it still remains a little bland, but at least it is inoffensive.
But most people seem to look for more than that in a car.
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