An excellent car for the money. Great handling, ride and performance with some novelty value (in Australia, at least).
Near perfect ride/handling balance. Despite this example being shod with cheap no-name tyres of dubious quality, the Mondeo feels very balanced on the road. The handling is very communicative and positive, whilst riding very smoothly. You hear the imperfections of the road rather than feel them. The handling is good enough for you to forget that you're driving a family wagon rather than a sedan of more sporting intent.
Zippy engine. Despite lugging around 1350kg, the 2.0 Zetec is a very capable unit.
Brakes. Four wheel discs perform well in almost any situation, however using these brakes too enthusiastically may pose problems later on.
Comfort. A comfortable car to immerse yourself in. The front seat cushions are a tad flat, but are supportive. The seats are easy to adjust. Controls and ergonomics are typical generic Euro style, which is not a bad thing. Nice, fuzzy velour.
Equipment. Well equipped for a base model vehicle of this era (air conditioning, drivers air bag, central locking, power steering, etc).
Reliability. In the two months I've owned this vehicle, it has been utterly dependable.
Price. For a vehicle with such low mileage (91,000km = 57,000 miles), I paid AUD$8,900. Complete with a service history. This says more about the lack of knowledge of the Mondeo in the Australian market rather than the car itself. Spare parts shouldn't be overly expensive given Ford's strong presence in Australia.
Support. The dealer has been excellent. Also, the number of support forums on the web dedicated to Mondeos is very heartening.
Surprised to see that despite the full service history on this particular example, the exhaust system was rotting away quite badly. Also surprised that both front disc rotors were heavily worn, one of which was undersized. Both of these faults have been repaired by the dealer under warranty.
The Mark 1 Mondeo has the dubious honour of having the World's Worst Cupholders. The cupholders themselves are embedded in the underside of the centre console lid. They are shallow, are not secure and are difficult to reach. I figure that the Mondeo's designers must have come to the conclusion that driving is about using two hands at all times.
Cabin noise. The Zetec is a willing engine, but it's also a noisy little bugger. As mentioned previously, the suspension has a habit of telling the driver (and passengers) about bumps by ear rather than by feel.
Finish. Like most Euro Fords, the dashboard feels a tad plasticky. Whilst not as overtly cheap as the Ka, this does tend to bring the tone of the interior down slightly. Little things like window winders and vents don't seem to have the same tactile feel or robustness as those on their Japanese (or even Australian) counterparts.
I've really had to pick this car to shreds to come up with a list of bad things. Overall, the Mondeo is an excellent proposition for anyone who is looking for a good value 4 cylinder family car.