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Ford Mondeo (00-06)
Full Road Test
Still a good car - but it's hard not to feel that its moment has passed. The Mondeo's image is sliding downmarket almost as rapidly as its collapsing residual values - its former core of fleet users migrating en masse into premium-badged cars like the BMW 3-series.
If you're not too worried about cost then there's still plenty to like about the Mondeo. Various chrome-adding facelifts haven't saved the exterior from becoming dated, but inside some new switchgear for ventilation and stereo raises the ambiance slightly. The driving position is too low for some people, but there's plenty of room for both front and rear seat occupants, and all versions have a generously proportioned boot.
Driving dynamics are still exemplary - precious little else in the segment has managed to get close to the Mondeo's combination of motorway refinement and genuine enthusiasm for back roads. The more basic petrol engines sound coarse, and the 2.5 and 3.0 litre V6s are thirsty and expensive. Diesel is definitely the way to go - and the most basic 113 bhp 2.0 TDCI engine offers decent pace and is noticeably quieter than the more powerful 128 bhp version. Alternatively, the 153 bhp 2.2 TDCI is loud but very rapid.
Factor money into the equation and the big Ford's case as a new purchase collapses as anything other than a company car - unless you secure a big discount. Plunging residuals mean the Mondeo sheds thousands of pounds during its first months of life, meaning that it only starts to make sense as a used buy.