The Mondeo’s reputation for handling finesse precedes it by such a distance that the industry would once have expected a new version to earn unfettered praise for its dynamics, although some will have sniffily discounted that notion on learning about the car’s American connection.

The Blue Oval has already proved that it can make One Ford products that handle well on European roads. It has made another one here in the Mondeo, and yet it may not have made quite the vivacious repmobile you were expecting.

The Ford Mondeo would benefit from a slightly sportier chassis

On the motorways and trunk roads where they’ll become so common, the Mondeo handles remarkably well. Mixing tautness with just enough supple give, the suspension tune feels tailor-made for a typical 70-80mph gait.

The ride is expertly tuned as well as quiet and should make the Mondeo as comfortable over long-distance and daily use as almost any premium-brand saloon save the very best. That emphasis on comfort gives the Ford a mature, laid-back demeanour entirely appropriate for cars that’ll do tens of thousands of miles a year for their owners.

That the handling feels only moderately sporting would hardly be worth a mention if this wasn’t a Mondeo. But this big Ford feels its size on all roads and at all times and fails to disguise its bulk as cleverly as its predecessors.

Steering responses are clean and proportionate but fail to make the car feel particularly spry, while grip is balanced marginally in favour of stability rather than directional agility. Press the car really hard over a tough B-road and, rather than rewarding your enthusiasm, it’ll slowly but surely run out of body control.

Back to top

That, let’s not forget, is what almost all normal, diesel-powered large saloons and estates do when you really lean on them. Most owners would sooner have an appropriate, stable chassis than a more responsive but stiffer-riding one that annoyed them the majority of the time, and they’ll be entirely satisfied with what they find in the Mondeo.

But those who expect this car to offer more dynamic engagement than anything else of its kind – and count us among that number – might be left wanting.

The Mondeo acquits itself well for a car of its size on a hard-charged length of asphalt such as the Millbrook Hill Route, for example; the boundaries of its grip and body control are fairly easy to approach. 

Our test car’s 16in wheels weren’t ideal for exploring its dynamic talents but should have done little to affect the fundamental balance. The chassis kept good lateral control of the car’s body during hard cornering and maintained decent steering precision, albeit with some deterioration in steering weight.

Vertical body control was managed less deftly, with the car bottoming out in a couple of places where lateral loading coincided with a compression. The Mondeo’s handling security is beyond question. Up to and beyond the edge of adhesion, it reacts consistently and looks after its driver well, with excellent ESP tuning in evidence.

But there’s less sharpness, poise and verve than we’re used to from Ford.