The finest car Ford ever launched in Europe: Seven challengers that are revving up

THE Mondeo is probably the best car in a crowded and increasingly competitive sector, which accounts for about 25 per cent of the British market. It is better than the 11-year-old Sierra in every way. Particularly impressive, compared with the Sierra, are its ride, handling, attractive cabin and sprightly performance.

But, to be number one in the class - and that is Ford's target - the Mondeo will need to see off a trio of fine, British-built Japanese competitors, rejuvenated old-timers from Peugeot and Vauxhall, a new Rover, and an upcoming new Citroen.

When Ford researched the Mondeo, it identified the Nissan Primera - built in Sunderland, to a specification largely determined by the Japanese - as the class best. It's a close call between the two. The Primera is a slightly sharper handling car, if not so fluent on winding roads. It has better engines - particularly in the 2.0-

litre sector -but a less yielding ride. If sheer driving enjoyment is paramount, the Primera is probably the more compelling buy, but for family motoring, the Mondeo is the wiser choice.

The two other Mondeo-class Japanese cars being built in Britain are the Toyota Carina E, which has just gone into production in Derby, and the latest Swindon-made Honda Accord, due on sale in the UK in May.

The Carina has the Mondeo easily covered in interior space - it's a massive family car - and offers more sophisticated engines and slicker-shifting manual transmissions. The Mondeo is more fun to drive, and has a much more composed suspension on poor- quality roads. The Accord, like the Carina, is a dull-looking and dull-

to-drive car, although it boasts a smooth engine, a wonderful gear- change, and is impressively roomy.

Initially, the Mondeo's main competitor will be the Vauxhall Cavalier, the Sierra's biggest sales rival. Go for the Mondeo. The Cavalier, like most Vauxhalls, boasts sweet revving and powerful engines, and is well made and reliable. But its suspension offers nothing like the suppleness of the Mondeo's. It is thus a substantially less comfortable car, as well as being less roomy.

A more serious rival is the Peugeot 405, my personal choice before the arrival of the Mondeo. Built in Ryton, near Coventry, it has a marvellous ride/handling balance, although its steering is less sweet than the Mondeo's. It is also not as well built, not quite as roomy, and not quite the balanced all-rounder that the new Ford is.

Harder to rate is the new Rover 600, due in April and officially still secret. It is, however, based closely on the new Honda Accord, so is likely to be roomy, beautifully finished inside (like all Rovers), and mechanically refined. Given its Honda antecedents, don't expect the chassis composure of the new Ford, though.

The car most likely to steal the class-best crown from the Mondeo is the new Citroen Xantia. No journalist has driven one yet, but this BX replacement - on sale in the UK in June - promises to be roomy, distinctive, supple-riding and brisk.

Suggested Topics
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing

Other places that have held independence referendums
Jonas Gutierrez (r) competes with Yaya Toure (l)

Newcastle winger Jonas Gutierrez reveals he has testicular cancer - and is losing his trademark long hair as a result

Arts and Entertainment
Blossoming love: Colin Firth as Stanley and Emma Stone as Sophie, in 'Magic in the Moonlight'

Actors star in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
We are phenomenally good at recognising faces; the study showed that humans have been selected to be unique and easily recognisable

Human faces unique 'because we don't recognise each other by smell'

Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck

Man's attempt to avoid being impounded heavily criticised

Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
The Guildhall School of Music and Drama is to offer a BA degree in Performance and Creative Enterprise

Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    IT Portfolio Analyst - Prince2

    £45000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client, a glob...

    Project Co-ordinator - Birmingham - Permanant

    £20000 - £25000 Per Annum Plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

    Head of Maths

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Head of Maths position at a prestigious ...

    Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Huxley Associates

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Huxley Associates are currentl...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week