This car is superb for driving and takes very well to all conditions.
I have a 4-door as I felt that it looked far more classy than the 5-door - More in line with a BMW / Audi than a Mondeo / Vectra, but that is only my view! The rear spoiler looks far more purposeful on the 4-door than on the 5-door (which has a smaller one), but there are some practical disadvantages:
1. The boot is smaller in volume (i.e. litres) and you lose the practicalities of a hatchback.
2. There is no rear window wiper.
It is very easy to drive around town and is perfectly behaved in stop-start traffic, although the spring on the clutch is quite stiff and can get tiresome under extended use.
On the motorway it really comes into its element. Power and torque are available no matter what gear you are in. To be honest, once you are up to cruising speed (i.e. anything over 50), there is rarely any reason to take it out of 5th... unless you are in a real rush! The only gripe is the lack of cruise control for those long journeys or the days when you are not in the mood (Your right foot can start to ache after some time - This is due to the position of the accelerator pedal / seat).
I have not had a chance to test the claimed top speed to date, but I have no doubts that it will get there with some to spare.
On twistier roads, handling begins to weaken at higher speeds - I believe this could have a lot to do with the tyres that are fitted... I currently have Goodyears fitted.
Still on the subject of the tyres, they can loose grip if pushed hard (especially under hard acceleration from a standing start). I feel that this could have been reduced by fitting wider wheels / tyres as standard. 195's on a car like this seem fairly narrow, especially as some lower spec Mondeos / Vectras have 205's as standard.
Acceleration from a standing start is phenomenal for a car of this class (although it is possible to experience some torque-steer) and it proves all too easy to dumbfound the 'boy racer' as you pull away from his Fiesta XR2i or Golf GTI. And for those of them that can keep up with you to 60, they soon vanish once you get to the bigger numbers! This car has made me smile on many occasions (just keep pushing to the red line in every gear - but make sure you don't hit the limiter at 7,200rpm!).
Handling is assisted greatly by the stiff suspension and anti-roll bars, which really do inhibit body roll unless pushed extremely hard. Not only does this make you feel more confident whilst cornering hard, but you really notice the benefits when changing up through the gears under hard acceleration.
The driving position is pretty good, and the seats are wonderfully supportive. The only criticisms that could be made are:
1. The seats are a little high (I would prefer it if they could be lowered a little more).
2. The arm for the clutch pedal gets in the way - i.e. I can never fully depress the clutch (right to the floor) without my toes rubbing on the arm protruding from the top of the clutch pedal.
3. There is no reach adjustment on the steering wheel.
I'm looking at taking this car to a track day to see what it's like when pushed harder / further than is possible on the open road.
Finally, I would really like to know if anybody knows where I could get styling / performance modifications for this car from. I don't want anything excessive, but body coloured light glass (for the rear light cluster and the side indicators) would be good?
I am also considering lowering the car and fitting bigger wheels / tyres - let me know if you have any recommendations. Also on the subject, with reference to one of my comments above, please let me know if you have any recommendation for tyres to fit the standard wheels - I am not completely happy with the Goodyears currently fitted.
Or if you have any personal recommendations - e.g. what performance air filter or exhaust to fit, please let me know by adding a comment on this review.