This car has been superseded by a newer model, click here to go to the latest Ford Mondeo Estate review.

Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0

The most popular Mondeos will be diesels on 1.8 petrol models. Although the 2.0 turbodiesel model was a vast improvement over the 1.8 TD in the previous Mondeo, it still lost out to diesels from Peugeot, Citroen, Renault and Volkswagen in terms of efficiency and refinement. Late in 2001 Ford launched the 2.0 TDCi which adopted the latest diesel technology.

It produces 130bhp and 243lb-ft, and offers an excellent combination of performance, fuel economy and refinement. The original 115bhp 2.0TD ran until 2002 before being replaced by a 115bhp version of the 2.0 TDCi which is a far superior engine. In 2004, a high-performance 2.2-litre TDCi was introduced with 155bhp and 266lb-ft of torque, which powers sporty ST, and more luxury-oriented Ghia, Ghia X and Titanium versions of the car.

In August 2005 Ford launched a 90bhp version of the 2.0 TDCi, aimed at fleet operators, which although lacking power compared with the 115bhp diesel, doesn't feel much slower on the road. The 1.8-litre petrol engine is a decent motor for the entry-level version of the car, although the 2.0-litre feels much livelier with little fuel consumption penalty.

During 2003 Ford launched a 'direct injection' petrol engine called the 1.8 SCi, which promised better fuel consumption under light throttle loads than a conventional petrol engine, but also improved performance at full throttle. As well as feeling a little friskier than the standard 1.8 it also sounds sporty when revved hard. The SCi engine is only available in Ghia, Ghia X and Titanium models.

The fastest Mondeo is the ST220, which has a 226bhp 3.0-litre V6, sprinting from 0-62mph in 7.6 seconds with a top speed of 155mph. A less powerful version of this 3.0-litre engine is also available in the luxury-specification versions of the Mondeo, as well as a more sedate 170bhp 2.5-litre V6. The Mondeo came fitted with a five-speed manual gearbox as standard when launched, but six-speed versions became an option on many models later, while some now come only with a six-speed manual as standard.

When Ford launched the Focus in 1998 it marked the beginning of a new generation of models that were rewarding to drive. The Mondeo offered a blend of engaging handling and a supremely comfortable ride that only a few rivals have come close to since. Intuitive to drive, the Mondeo's steering has excellent weighting - light at parking speeds, but with just the right amount of resistance at higher speeds to help guide the car more accurately around bends - and you really feel at one with the car.

High levels of grip and good body control inspire confidence when driving the Mondeo on twisty roads. ST versions feel a little sharper, but with a slightly less comfortable ride thanks to their larger wheels.