My previous car had been a Ford XR5 Focus. I loved the torquey nature of the Volvo sourced inline five turbo and the slick shifting Getrag six speed manual. It was that video of Jeremy Clarkson that showed me throwing it around the Top Gear test track that had won me over.
The noise it made, the way it could be chucked around and how forgiving it could be. When it came time to buy something a bit more practical however, it was CarAdvice's review that sold me on buying an XR5 Turbo Mondeo. It built on the solid mechanical foundations of the Focus but had the practicality I desired.
Whilst the Mondeo has a slightly different engine tune (162kw compared to the Focus's 166kw), torque output and delivery remain virtually the same. Thankfully, Ford stuck with Getrag for the manual transmission and for this I'm ever so grateful. It's a pleasure to shift, particularly if it's your daily driver in suburban commutes It's not as good as the Focus XR5's six speed though. The clutch pedal is nicely weighted with the grab point not too high.
One of CarAdvice's remarks was that the Mondeo could do with a bit more power to move bigger body along. I agreed and made the decision to flash the ECU with a Blue Fin unit from the UK. The result? a jump to 200kw and 410Nm. To me, it's the kind of power the car needs especially when loaded up with a boot full of suit cases and three or four passengers. Torque delivery is diesel like, with the peak 410Nm available from 1500 RPM. It delivers a nice surge that doesn't really seem to dull until around the 5000 mark.
Handling is impressive for a car that is verging on the same size of a Falcon. The XR5 variant comes with the sports tuned suspension set up and chunkier 235/40/18 Wheels. I've taken this car into many sharp turns and nice twisty bits of bitumen up in the hills and the level of grip pretty darn reassuring without too much body roll. I'm yet to take it to the limit though. The ride is quite firm but definitely not jarring, it is a European car after all. Road noise is quite apparent on Australian coarse chip roads but I've noticed a positive change with the Goodyear Eagle F1 Tyres I fitted.
The Car came standard with a great looking set of 18" wheels and is completed in a subtle but sporty body kit with a spoiler that finishes it nicely. To me, the overall look works very well.
For a car that came onto the market back in 2007, it's pretty feature packed. The XR5 variant came standard with cruise, dual zone climate control, rain sensing wipers,front/rear parking sensors, auto sensing headlights and bluetooth phone integration. Additional options included voice activation and a sunroof.
My XR5 was equipped with the voice activation feature which works quite well for one of the earlier iterations of such technology. It allows you to control the stereo system , Climate control fan speed, temperature and demister as well as dialling numbers through your phone. It can also be programmed to recognise names of up to ten of your contacts. The feature can be activated without your hand leaving the Steering wheel which makes perfect sense.
One particular feature I love is being able to navigate my address book from the steering wheel controls. The names appear on the LCD Panel that sits in the gauge cluster. The gauge layout itself takes a little while to get used to but with in a week or so- I was comfortable with it. The steering wheel controls themselves are also illuminated at night which is not everyone's preference but something I like. There is also a plethora of information available to you via the steering wheel controlled trip computer. Average/instant fuel economy, visual access to the Stereo system features such as CDs Radio, Auxiliary and other features such as Traction control.
One thing I'm pretty picky about is audio, I love my music. The XR5's Sony stereo doesn't disappoint for a standard piece of kit. Whilst CD players may be in their twilight years, the six stacker is a nice feature to have. Unfortunately, there is no Bluetooth audio steaming in the 2008 Model. There is a 3.5 Audio Jack in the glove compartment though and it seems like this was Ford's preference of placement in the MA-MB Models of Mondeo. It's an inconvenience frankly and the auxiliary cable lead can get caught on a passengers leg and yanked out by accident if not careful.
Interior wise, the Alcantara suede leather is nice and soft touch materials have been utilised around the centre console and dash area. It's a pretty nice place to be and the heated seats are a bonus during the winter months.
In terms of space, I've comfortably had four people in the car with ample space for legs on many occasions. The rear seats also feature adjustable headrests which are great for those longer trips.
The boot itself in a word- is cavernous. I could write a whole article on it. I find myself carrying a drum kit quite often and I can virtually fit the entire kit in the boot sans bass drum which will sit happily in back which ever way you place it (and could still sit two passengers in the back). Three or Four large suit cases will happily fit sitting on their sides and if you really need to, you can remove the parcel shelf allowing the hatch area to fill up even more. The boot itself also comes with a nice rubber liner that features a bumper protector which folds out to protect the paint job from scratches when lifting loads out of the back; very handy with the drum kit and all.
One product which is starting to appear in Australia are ISOFIX baby seats. The Mondeo has had the ISOFIX ability since it was released back in 2007, good news for those with small Children.
Do I have any gripes about this car? Only a few actually. Some of the interior plastics are laminated in a silver wrapping. I've found a few of them starting to bubble in the last year or two. Thankfully, I was able to have the pieces replaced under warranty while it was still covered. I was cautious and invested in the extended warranty for extra piece of mind and in saying that, I've never really had to use it.
Nothing serious in the car has failed while it's been in my ownership. The CD Stacker jammed once and had to be sent away to have the CD's removed,the electronic boot solenoid failed once and had to be replaced (while under warranty), the power steering pump reservoir blocked up once and had to be replaced ($230 inc. parts and labour). Servicing averages around 3-$350 per visit and Fuel economy averages 10.5 L/100 but drops as low as 6-7 on highways.
On the whole, the Ford Mondeo makes for a great practical European GT. I only wish they still made them as I'd happily get another.