Blog : Ford Mondeo Mk4 – my guilty secret

I’m finding myself with a bit of a hankering for a Ford Mondeo at the moment. I guess it’s all the talk about the current model, which shuffled off this mortal coil recently, bringing to an end a continuous line of family saloons that kicked off in 1962 with the Cortina.

I’ll put my cards on the table right here: I’ve always been a little ambivalent about Fords, figuring that there’s so much love for them that they don’t really need any help from me – so, in the list of 250+ cars that I’ve owned, there are very few Fords.

There’s a Mondeo in there though, and I’d love to have another. But not the type you might expect. The original 1993 edition was a brilliantly-engineered thing, blessed with shrinking violet looks which meant you’d never know it was a dynamic masterpiece without getting in and driving it on your favourite B-road.

Growing up, growing better?

The 2001 version was a big step up in looks and interior quality, but the Mk4 really did see the Mondeo grow up – and it’s that one that’s currently floating my boat. Next time you see one, take a closer look at a Titanium X in black or silver and on big wheels and tell me that’s not a handsome beast that still looks modern.

But it’s not just a good-looking car. Like all Mondeos (and Sierras and Cortinas before that), the Mk4 is a big beast that’s just perfect for carrying people and their luggage for hundreds of miles without breaking into a sweat.

It’s spacious, well-equipped and honed for the motorway. It’s also available with the 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine used to power the second-generation Focus ST, and lest we forget that James Bond drove one in Casino Royale. Now tell me you don’t want one.

My own experiences…

I bought a Mondeo Mk4 on a whim back in 2017 for £780. It was a 210,000-mile example 2.0 Ghia saloon in doom blue with a beige cloth interior featuring enough unsavoury stains to challenge your local forensics lab. It was down on power, had wobbly discs and featured some interesting love taps on all four corners.

But once cleaned up, engine light reset and reshod with decent tyres and brakes, this 10-year-old example proved to be a brilliant thing to drive. It was relaxing and economical, and even had a great stereo and working aircon. Considering its galactic mileage, it still felt tight and could easily have passed for a car with 100,000 miles on the clock – and a well-built one at that.

It’s sad that the Mondeo is no more, as new car buyers move away from big, comfy saloons and into less efficient and more cramped SUVs. It was part of a cultural phenomenon that already feels increasingly distant from today. Sometimes evolution doesn’t go the way it should, and here’s a great example of that. I guess that means if you’re a softie for a Mondeo, the next few years are going to be rich pickings for you as they fade into automotive obscurity.

Such a shame…

Keith Adams

39 Comments

  1. I thought the 2007 on was a mk 4. I had a 2008 estate as a nearly new car and far preferred my 2001, 2003 and 2005 Mondeos

    • I always think that 2000 to 2007 Mk3 model was really the son of Cortina. From some angles it looked like a Mk4/5 Cortina. Always thought if you could have gone back in time to the late 70s and showed someone a photograph of the 2000 Mondeo and the 1982 Sierra and asked which would be the Cortina of the 80s and which the Cortina of the millennium they would get them the wrong way round!

  2. Taxi driver friend of mine put 250,000 miles on his first diesel Mk3 with only a replacement set of injectors. No.2 was an updated model with a petrol 1.6, another 250k trouble free. The Cortina successor was a good ‘un.

  3. Pretty sure that sweet 5 cylinder Duratec is actually a Volvo motor. But Ford were smart to use it.

  4. Does Mondeo Man still drive the roads these days? Or has he been ‘cancelled’?!

    • He’s been replaced by Qashqai Karen (private owners) and Tesla Tom (company car drivers).

      Mainstream family transport in the UK is crossover-shaped, and has been for the last 10+ years.

      Any remaining “road warrior” company car drivers in the UK are looking at electric cars these days. The BIK tax rules make it uneconomic to consider anything else. Ford has (deliberately, I think) chosen to leave this market to other manufacturers.

      • I think Ford is gradually exiting Europe. Like GM they realise its dead easy to churn out crude, cheap and nasty pick up trucks in North America that keep shareholders happy with massive profits for little effort. Trying to cater for European tastes building refined well made small cars is too much like hard work and just bleeds all that money that Ford in the US is making.

        • @ Paul, Fords just don’t sell like they used to and their cars offer nothing over their rivals,and many of the dealers see customers as people they sell the car to and then see after sales as a burden. Since a local family dealer retired 2 years ago, the only dealer left is Arnold Clark, whose reputation is abysmal, so Ford have probably lost sales because of this.

  5. No shame in liking the Mk3. Ran a facelift 2.0 diesel with the Powershift dual clutch auto box for a while. Bear in mind the automatics require a regular and expensive transmission fluid change to keep the box working properly. Otherwise brilliant – massively spacious, quiet, comfortable and long legged. They did some ‘business editions’ which had integrated satnav, climate control, hands free, bluetooth etc for the travelling sales community. Underrated then and should be a bargain now, provided you can find an un-abused one with good history.

    • Its funny how sticking a big grill on a Mk1 Mondeo turns it into a MK2 whilst completely reskinning the MK2 Focus in 2008 so that only the roof remained original still leaves that Focus as a MK2. Who decides these things?

      • Depends on who you are talking to at Ford at the time. The Mk5 Cortina doesn’t officially exist, it’s a TC80 (Taunus Cortina) but if you spoke to anyone from Dagenham to Dunton it was a Mk5. Same as Mk3 Escort, and the Mk4 or is it 5? I have an official history book that Ford had Banhams create for their employees (my old man worked there for 27 yrs) and in there some if the Mks don’t match up!

  6. The 1.8 and 2.0 petrols used a Mazda derived engine. the 1.8 wasn’t very powerful and was thirsty, but the 2.0 went better and used less fuel. Just watch the oil consumption though, lots of them suffer piston ring issues at relatively low miles. Other than that they are bullet proof.

  7. The Mk4 is lovely but I still think the Mk3 is the real sweet spot and a very underrated car. I ran a 2005 3.0V6 Ghia X for 2 years and absolutely loved it. Same engine as the ST-220 albeit with 20bhp less, more wood and leather, and softer suspension. And no cam belts to worry about, unlike all the engines on the Mk4.

    If (when?!) my Range Rover finally bankrupts me, I’ll happily have another one.

  8. Absolutely loved my 2010 Titanium 2.0 diesel. Comfortable, spacious, economical on my commute and a good looking thing too.

    I actually quite miss it.

  9. Ford finally came good in the noughties with the Mark 3 and 4 Mondeo, which looked and felt like quality product, not something made to a budget for reps who couldn’t care less what happened to the car when it was auctioned off at 3 years old. The Jaguar and Volvo influence at Ford was paying off, as the 2001 Mondeo looked and felt like something made by a German premium brand and was a comfortable, upmarket car inside and excellent to drive.

  10. In 2016, my X type hit 220,000 miles; and started costing me £200 a month to fix electronic problems. Then I pinholed the head gasket, and it had to go. I bought a Mk3 Mondeo ST diesel estate, and have since done some 44,000 miles in it. I told a colleague what I had bought, he said “Aha! A mile eater”.

    Cortina 2000s were great on the motorway, not too good elsewhere. The Sierra moved the game on, but was agricultural inside and had iffy handling. Notwithstanding the wonderful XR8, still not my cup of tea.

    But the Mondeo is multi-talented. Reliable, great to drive, roomy, cheap parts.. the seats are no match for the X type, and you don’t get that nice warm glow of owning a prestige marque; but how many hundreds of pounds a month is that worth?

    • @ Ken Strachan, 220,000 miles is excellent for any car before it experiences faults, which will be inevitable with such a high mileage, and proves to me the X Type was a better car than its critics claimed. Yet when faults occur with any premium badged, older car, the bills will become unbearable and you need to look elsewhere.
      My view on the Sierra was, unless you went for a six cylinder car made in Germany, they were poor and later models could be very unreliable. The miserable, low rent interior, harsh and thirsty engines, controversial styling and rear wheel drive when everyone else was going to front wheel drive put me off.

  11. To a degree I think Ford and Vauxhall went away from their market niche by making models that were just too big for practical daily use. Also, Mondeo man is arguably more commonly and conveniently found in a Zoom meeting these days rather than trundling up and down the motorway peddling his wares.

  12. I still like the look of the MK4 Mondeo and the estate was (is) a great load carrier. More appealing to me than any Crossover or SUV. Great shame all the manufacturers are doing away with saloons and estates, I can’t think of any / many cars I wish to own now…

  13. @ Hilton D, in America, the Big Three have largely abandoned the conventional sedan market and now mostly produce SUVs and pick up trucks. The days when Americans cruised around large sedans with big V6 and V8 engines are over, but instead hulking SUVs and pick up trucks have taken their place and often look horrible. Thankfully pick up trucks haven’t taken off over here- yet.

  14. Glenn , take note of the USA Chicken Tax, from 1964, a retaliatory measure against Europe who were running scared of the sheer efficiency of USA chicken meat producers, a retaliatory tariff upon imported light trucks (but not cars) a “fine ” of 25% of price, hence the reason USA car makers favouring light trucks, less competition for sales price to worry about, in the long-term we see the results, Americans didnot buy EU cars ( they knew how bad they were) and hence today we have Honda/Toyota/KIA/Hyundai are the USA sedan makers/sellers

    • One of the concerns was the amount of hormones used in American chicken farming.

      While many the rank & file European cars seemed to struggle in the USA, Mercedes & BMW managed to grab a fair amount of the executive imported car market. Remember the original 3 series production run was as big as the Morris Marina in almost the same time scale.

        • USA car makers hid behind the chicken tax, skewed their range into those huge cheap to build yet profitable gas guzzler SUVs, when oil prices rose, buyers deserted for economical cars from Asia, result GM and Chrysler chapter 11 bankruptcy

          • @ cyclist, not the first time the American car industry’s complacency has caused them big problems. The two energy crises in the seventies, more so the one in 1979, almost drove Chrysler out of business and badly damaged Ford and General Motors. Detroit’s dependence on cars with huge, inefficient engines that had dominated the industry for decades was badly shaken by the 1979 energy crisis, when buyers switched to smaller, far more economical and better made Japanese cars. It took Detroit until the mid eighties to recover, but by then the energy crisis had faded and demand picked up again for large engined cars.

          • Chrysler had to borrow money for the American government to develop the K series cars, that luckily were the sort of car that sold well in the 1980s & they managed to repay the loan.

            GM also developed the right sort of cars for the 1980s, and dropped the diesel V8s they had fitted in some cars in the 1970s when fuel prices rose. They made some odd decisions later on, like launching the Saturn range which was a division which at first shared little with any other GM cars.

            Ford were also in a good position in terms of product development in the 1980s.

            It wasn’t until the 21st Century that they were caught out again by rising fuel prices and problems with the economy.

  15. Pickups are so cheap in the states as they have very little tax on purchase, so a big lump can be bought for less than a “sedan”. And when most of Americas Road are wide and straight, a pickups lack of road handling doesn’t matter, where soft ride does. Unfortunately we are now seeing more and more pickups here, big ugly and useless unless your a builder or landscaper here in Europe.

    The Mk 3 is my favourite, and probably the best built of the bunch, with the Mk4 having cheaper components fitted as Dearborn stuck their nose in, and literally took over the Mk5 development so they could replace the rubbish 500/Taurus, which is still not bad but is not the driving machine the Mondeo once was. The X type was ruined by Dearborn, much like the S Type, and if you sit in a Mk3 and then thd X Type, you can feel the difference in the seating position. The Jag is just to high, whole you snuggle down in a Mk3. Shame, as if Dearborn had not stuck their nose in too much, we probably have seen a better car. And if they had launched the X type first, which many in Ford in Europe wanted to do first!

  16. I concur with daveh, the peak was reached with the Mark 3 Mondeo. The previous two models were anonymous looking, had bumpers that seemed to fracture with the slightest impact( shades of Austin Montego), and the Mark 1 had central locking with a mind of its own. The Mark 3 was the big leap forward: an upmarket looking car that still looks excellent today, the quality was way better and all versions were brilliant to drive. In turbodiesel form, the Mondeo was capable of enormous mileages.

  17. I think you go for the current model that has just gone out of production, or the Insignia which has just done the same. £10K buys you a lot of either car. Both are big, with huge boots. They do everything you could ever want. Plenty of toys, modern and good enough to drive. Decent TDi engines. Cheap to run. Run it until you get a big bill, then dump it.

  18. Yep, the Mk 2 Mondeo seemed to be most famous for the fact that its bumpers always seemed to crack after a while, revealing the yellow foam underneath. This was then repaired using duct tape most of the time..

    • @ Adria,n, it was a miracle not to see a Mark 2 Mondeo after a couple of years with the foam sticking out the bumper and a duct tape repair. However, it was otherwise a decent car, the early electrical issues on the Mark 1 had been beaten, and I can remember some turbodiesels doing stratospheric mileages with few issues, one in Maryport, Cumbria, managing to clock up 280,000 miles in 13 years before a big mechanical failure.

  19. Mathewsons have a nice looking ST Mark 2 in Ford Racing blur at the next auction. Now that is care I wouldn’t mind, though my fave in this months auction is an Uren Cortina Savage estate. Yum yum

  20. From what I remember the Mk1s suffered from weak clutches that could wear out after 10-15 years.

    My Dad bought a year old Mk3 in 2003 when he took early retirement & it lasted quite well as a family car. The only major problem was a suspension spring breaking before he part exchanged it for a new Nissan Qashqai.

    The analogue clock was something that got on my Dad’s nerves as it had to be wound forwards by 11 hours each autumn. He gave up doing it so for the last few years it was left an hour fast.

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