Sunday, 1 September 2013

A new arrival on the Life On Cars fleet!

A full flotilla of electric windows, heated leather seats, cruise control, a heated front windscreen and a stereo that swallows six CDs at any given moment.

That's the sort of specification that would've made an early Lexus owner a little envious, and that's before I get to the electrically adjustable seats, the electric sunroof and air conditioning that leaves you cooler than Steve McQueen on a skiing trip. It also comes with plenty in the way of mid-range whallop from beneath the bonnet, and a dynamism that'll make a BMW owner blush (even though they'd never to admit to it).

Welcome to the club class world of the Ford Mondeo 2.0 Ghia X. Specifically, the one I've just bought. For a grand.

Why have I gone for a Blue Oval badged family saloon, particularly when I'm not a family man? Firstly, because the car that's been my everyday wheels of choice - my Rover 214SEI - is approaching the end of its life as a useful commuting tool. It's been a fine companion and I've grown to love its easygoing vibe, its tasteful half leather seats and plastiwood trim, and its utter refusal to break down, even in a snowdrift in deepest Cumbria. But ever since my offices moved from Southport to Peterborough and my new place of residence became the outside lane of the A1, this £300, 17-year-old slice of Anglo-Japanese engineering has been operating beyond its brief.

What I really needed, I figured, was something with oomph sufficient to deal with all the motorway work I've been assigned of late. A task the Mondeo was born to tackle.

My particular car might have done more than 100,000 miles in its dozen summers of existence, but it's also been serviced on the dot by the only owner it's had from new, and had every worn component replaced with a near religious devotion to reliability. As a result, it actually feels tighter than some cars I've driven with half the mileage.

More importantly - and to revisit something I wrote earlier this year - everyone I know who really knows their stuff on cars rates the Mondeo. The Great British Public might have moved to the Nissan Juke at one end and the 3-Series BMW on the other, leaving the Ford favourite lingering in a sales figures no man's land, but every Mondeo has always demonstrated that family cars can be finely balanced things which revel in a good corner or two. A finely balanced thing which, by the way, comes with absolutely every gadget you could possibly want - most of which are expensive extras in a BMW 320i.

So was I right to opt for a Ford as the Rover's eventual successor? Is it a belting saloon car bargain? Or have I bought a 12-year-old, 108,000 mile breakdown catastophe just waiting to happen?

Watch this space...

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