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Spin on Passat theme pays dividends for Mondeo man

The second-generation Ford Mondeo launched in 2000 set new standards in the medium family and fleet sector. It's bigger, more refined and has high levels of safety. The more sophisticated styling is aimed at poaching VW Passat buyers but at a price that appeals to the traditional Ford buyer.

This Mondeo gained the respect of the motoring press and is a better product than most rivals, guaranteeing it large sales.

There are three body styles: saloon, five-door hatch and five-door estate. All models are well equipped – even the cheapest LX models boast an alarm, air-con and electric windows. Range-topping Ghia X models add climate control and a six-disc CD autochanger.

Initial depreciation means that Mondeo makes a good value used buy: Zetec, Ghia and Ghia X are buyers' favourites. Estates and hatchbacks are the most sought after and command the strongest prices, with the best ones snapped-up by Ford dealers.

Mondeo always satisfied the driver. On the 2000 model cornering and ride have been enhanced, with the addition of a wider track and larger tyres. It's fun to drive, with a poised and sporty feel, good body control and precise steering.

It's also a comfortable motorway cruiser, ideal for the high-mileage driver. But low-speed ride is disappointing, even on A-roads, as lumps, bumps and potholes are amplified.

The driver benefits from a wide range of seat adjustment and well-placed switchgear. There's plenty of room for three adults to travel with ease in the rear, an improvement on the first generation model. The practical estate has a large, flat load area that's good for the class.

There's a choice of six engines available from the 1.8 to the feisty, though thirsty, 3.0 V6 ST220. Favoured units are the 1.8 and 2.0 Zetec petrol engines, which are responsive when pressed and cruise comfortably on the motorway. The 2.5 V6 has 170bhp, but only gives just 28.8mpg on the Combined cycle.

The original 2.0 TD diesel unit is torquey and workman-like, but feels unrefined. The current TDCi unit offers almost class-leading refinement, more power, better performance and is just as economical (47.9mpg overall).

This Mondeo is structurally strong, achieving a four-star Euro NCAP rating which puts it near the top of its class. All models get front and side and curtain airbags and ABS. Thatcham rates Mondeo as above average for “theft of” protection and average for “theft from”.

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