What is it?

The Mondeo 2.5T, which with its 217bhp five-cylinder turbocharged motor and optional Sport pack is the closest thing to a Mondeo ST.

The S-Max, many of whose underpinnings the Mondeo shares, has made half of its sales to people who haven’t had a Ford before. Many have come from premium brands. Ford is hoping to pull the same trick with the Mondeo.

The difference between premium and mainstream brands has never been smaller. It exists more in the mind of the buyer than in reality. This is the car to break the spell, even if Ford expects just two per cent of the range’s sales to come from this turbocharged range-topper.

What’s it like?

Genes shared with MPVs make the Mondeo a wide car with a very wide track, but its big wheels fill the prominent arches and it doesn’t look over-bodied. The Sport pack includes fussy-looking, five-spoke 18in wheels plus firmer springs and dampers, and there’s always a worry with ‘sport’ suspension that the ride will go to pieces. Not here, though.

A new Mondeo on standard suspension is an extraordinary car for insulating you from road noise and bumps while steering accurately, handling with fabulous fluidity and refusing to slither. Fluid-filled suspension bushes help here, and even the relatively heavy five-cylinder engine doesn’t spoil the balance. Amazingly, the Sport suspension keeps all this intact.

The steering becomes a touch more focused (Mondeos have hydraulic power assistance rather than electric, to the benefit of feel), and there’s a little less roll into a corner, but the ride remains supple. There’s an IVDC (Interactive Vehicle Dynamics Control) option with active dampers and comfort, normal and sport settings, which works well, but the standard passive set-ups are so good that IVDC seems superfluous.

That smooth-spinning, Volvo-sourced five-cylinder has to work harder in the Mondeo than the slightly more powerful version has to in the Focus ST, but this is still a 152mph car able to reach 62mph in 7.5sec. The 236lb ft of torque is primed at just 1500rpm and available up to 4800rpm, making the 2.5T an easy overtaker without the need to rev it hard. Its harmonic five-pot hum sounds expensive, too.

Should I buy one?

Can this be a convincing premium car? It certainly drives like one, or better. Ample cabin padding and plenty of high-end multimedia options help its case, even if the doorbins aren’t rubber-lined. But where else would you find such sophistication for under £21,000?

This is a self-made car, not an automotive aristocrat. Bring on the revolution, then.

John Simister

Our Verdict

The Ford Mondeo is a fine car in most areas. The family hatch is still a class leader even as its replacement nears

Driven this week