Ford Mondeo turns my head - for now

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The Ford Mondeo XR5 Turbo combines good looks with impressive performance. Photos by Rick Wellington.

Attending a V8 Supercar meeting recently I was asked on which side of the blue-red divide I stood.

Harbouring no personal preference, I plucked Holden out of the hat in deference to the marque driven by our local NZV8 competitors. Now, having driven the Ford Mondeo XR5 Turbo, my loyalties have swung irrevocably to the blue.

From first sight it had my blood stirring with its aggressive hatch styling - sporting a body kit and hunkered down on 18in alloy wheels. The raised shoulder-line mirrored my raised eyebrows and I cast an appreciative eye over the sleek, dynamic profile. Bonjour monsieur Mondeo.

Step inside, admire the dapper matt black leather interior, complemented by metal trimmings and hit the keyless engine start (available in this model only) emblazoned with "Ford power''.

Well they got that one right, this Mondeo would cost me dearly in traffic fines if I owned it. The 2.5-litre five-cylinder, turbo-charged engine just begs you to plant your foot. Up more than 60kW on the diesel Mondeo models and a whopping 135Nm on its 2-litre, five-speed manual variants, this six-cog Ford fair flies.

Glancing backwards to note the traffic you leave behind however, your view is restricted by the rising window line and thick hind pillar.

Eyes up front again and it handles admirably in the tight, twisty stuff, despite weighing in the heaviest of its family at 1581kg. Its 1886mm girth (wider than some mid-range SUVs) is cause for a little consternation when angling into tight parks and squeezing through the ungenerous gap between my house and fence. Luckily front and rear parking sensors are standard with this top-end-priced Mondeo.

The five-level, fast-heating seats were a real treat on the recent cold mornings and were part of the reason why I will remain a sworn blue oval girl . . . at least until I get a test drive of a table-turning Holden.

Read a snapshot test on the Ford Mondeo Diesel Zetec

 

Ford Mondeo turns my head - for now
At a Glance

FORD MONDEO XR5 TURBO

Test rating: 4.5.

For:Grunty performance coupled with a solid, smooth ride.
Against: Wide body makes for parking hassles.
Verdict: A great touring machine with plenty of power to boot.

SPECIFICATION

Price: $48,990.
Engine: 2521cc, 20-valve, five-cylinder, turbo-charged petrol, max power 162kW@5000rpm, max torque 320Nm@1500-4800rpm.

Transmission: Six-speed manual.

Brakes and stability systems:Front and rear disc brakes with anti-lock, electronic stability programming and traction control.

Wheel, tyres: Alloy wheels and R235/40 R18 tyres.

Fuel and economy: Petrol, 9.3l/100km (on combined cycle), capacity 70 litres.

Dimensions: Length 4778mm, width 1886mm, height 1500mm.

Warranty: 3 years/100,000km.

Main rivals: Honda Accord Euro Mugen, Peugeot 407 3.0, Subaru Legacy 3 0R.