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Future Classic: Ford Mondeo Mk 3

Published 11 January 2019

Few cars have had as rapturous a reception as the Mk3 Mondeo, which was launched towards the end of the year 2000.

Ford’s fleet favourite had big shoes to fill, with the Mk1 Mondeo and the Mk2 (effectively a Mk1 facelift) still being hailed as the finest handling mid-size hatch and saloon on the market, despite being seven years old. The Mondeo was a strong seller, too. Although by 2000 the trend towards SUVs and compact MPVs had started to erode some of the traditional ‘D-Sector’ sales, the Mondeo was still shifting 80,000 a year, which is more than five times the current model’s volume. 

The new model, then, was critically important for Ford. It had to at least match its predecessor’s reputation for fine handling, while at the same time offering good value for money to fleet managers, company car drivers and private punters alike. 

Ford Mondeo Mk 3 (2)

Ford hit the jackpot straight away - not only was the new Mondeo a terrific steer, with roadholding that was clearly the best in its class and more than a match for German premium models, but it was also a handsome car, taking the ‘New-Edge’ styling features that defined the Ka and the Focus, but in a more refined, less overtly angular package. Whichever body style you chose - hatchback, saloon or estate - you got a fine looking car that looked and felt sturdy. 

The interior was comfortable and spacious, with a distinctive four-spoke steering wheel and chunky, squared-off switchgear that looked pretty sharp at the time, but perhaps hasn’t aged as well as the Mondeo’s exterior styling, while the oval dashboard clock was a nod to the shape of the Ford logo. 

The new Mondeo was also the first Ford model to introduce the brand’s new tie-in with Sony for in-car entertainment, and while the Mondeo’s CD-Radio systems might look old hat today, back then they were the best on the market, with fabulous sound quality even today. 

Ford Mondeo Mk 3 (4)

Indeed, the only weak link when the Mondeo first appeared was the direct-injection diesel engine, with the 1.8-litre unit carried over from the Focus and previous Mondeo. Compared to the Zetec petrol units, all of which offered decent performance and refinement, the diesel was noisy and agricultural in its power delivery. It would be a further two years before a decent diesel was offered in the Mondeo range - the 2.0 TDCi - and not before time, as by then the fleet market had shifted from a 70:30 split in favour of petrol engines toward an identical balance the other way. 

With the new diesel engines, a new performance flagship in the form of the ST220 and some minor interior revisions to bring it more upmarket, the Mondeo was an appealing package, especially once depreciation kicked in and it started to offer exceptional used value. 

Indeed, like volume Fords, it was a victim of its own success, and as a result it became banger fodder much sooner than many of its rivals. For the last seven or eight years, you’ve been able to pick up a Mondeo Mk3 for less than £500, and for that you get a reliable, comfortable and fine handling car. Rust can be a problem, especially around the sills, but the Mk3 Mondeo is usually more rust-resilient than most other Fords of the era and if the sills are okay, then the rest most likely is, too. 

Ford Mondeo Mk 3 (3)

Other than that, it’s just the usual wear and tear that you have to look out for. Quite a few Mondeos covered lunar mileages during their lives, so it’s not unusual to find one that’s mechanically worn-out - there’s enough choice on the market to avoid such cars completely. And if you do, then you’ll end up with a car that’s still very good at doing what it was designed for even today - that is, ferrying families up and down the motorway network in comfort and refinement. 

There aren’t many classics you can say that about, and while the Mk3 Mondeo still lurks largely in the disposable old clunker market, the oldest examples are almost 19 years old. Given how quickly tidy Mk1 and Mk2 Mondeos get eagerly snapped up by enthusiasts today, it won’t be long before the Mk3 stirs the same type of nostalgia. Except, by then, most will have disappeared. If you find a good one now, ideally a Ghia or Ghia X, look after it and enjoy it, you’ll probably make a profit as well as get to enjoy one of the best cars that Ford ever made. 


Howard Buchanan    on 13 January 2019

The Mondeo a classic? Really? Feeling a McEnroe moment coming on: " You cannot be serious.....".

NickNike    on 14 January 2019

Mine were not reliable. They fell apart at 50k miles.

aethelwulf    on 14 January 2019

I have a 2005 estate 2L petrol. It has been , and is , a fine load lugger but the VED is very near £300 due to government robbery. It still does 35 mpg ( I do only runs in it) and it is reliable. I do see a bubble at end of sill. Sad ,so it is doomed in a couple of years . Classic? I suppose some would say a Ford Consul is ( I had one ) but not me It is a car to use and then dispose of.

lukslp22    on 15 January 2019

Really this is a crazy dull car to see, of course they ride sporty, but you have bmw, for comfort I prefer others cars. This interior was design with a ruler and a protractor... not excel in comfort like some french models and even the st220 is not more sporty than a 330 or even 328i

Husbandofstinky    on 15 January 2019

You may laugh but there are quite a number of these still kicking about.

Classic car status? definitely in years to come. Sierra values are seriously increasing and now the Mk1 Mondeo's are beginning to trek up northwards too. It will be a while but you only have to look at the value of Cortina's nowadays.

Mondeo's are far more robust and reliable than the equivalent Ford's of the 60's, 70's and 80's. With the tin worm being less of a problem in these and what I call the era of the last cars you could work on rather than just binning. I agree, the Mk3 is a very sensible choice and currently rock bottom in values.

carl233    on 15 January 2019

It is not correct about the Zetec petrol units being in this model. It was The Mazda designed units in 1.8 and 2.0 that were the mainstay of the petrol powered options. Also this MK3 is still based on the original CDW27 platform although tweaked a little.

   on 20 January 2019

Slightly wrong. It never had the 1.8 diesel unit - it always had the 2.0 one but direct injected rather than common rail system which was essentially a different head to make it work.

   on 5 December 2020

Couldn't agree more with the review. I've currently got a 2007 Mondeo 1.8L petrol saloon and a more punchy 2003 2.5L estate in Ghia X trim. The latter is a bit thirsty (25mpg - yikes) but it drives superbly, feels sporty and has a giant boot for a car this size. Both are ultra reliable - never had a breakdown or genuine issue with little maintenance required. A service every now and again keeps them purring. Review is right though: if you're buying these you can get the premium Ghia and Ghia X trims for nothing (£500 for the estate with 140,000 miles on the clock). Petrol costs aren't cheap, neither is VED but you're still saving thousands every year over anything made in the last 10 years. In a couple of years I'll save the estate in the garage and see if it appreciates. ?

Ben Martin    on 16 August 2022

I’ve got a 2004 2.0 TDCi Ghia estate and I love it. It’s done over 150k and still shifts. Motorways are eaten up in comfort and it returns 50mpg+. Cost me £1,500 7 years ago and cost me less than £500 a year to keep it on the road. I’m a gigging musician and I get drums, double bass, keyboards and three fat musos in it. Best car I’ve ever had by a long way and I’ve had loads. Also sound system is ace, cruise control and air con are great. Good tip run car too.

Edited by Ben Martin on 16/08/2022 at 20:53

   on 27 August 2023

Those who don't think that these will be classics may well have though the same of the Cortinas and Mk1 & & 2 Granadas.
Nearly all Fords have their day on the classic scene as they were so much a part of so many people's lives and the road network scenery.

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