In the world of fast Fords the Mondeo doesn’t rank very highly. With the rep-mobile stigma, the sporty Fiesta and Focus models seem to grab all the attention. In fact you may be forgiven for not realizing that a performance Mondeo Mk3 even existed. As Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson once pointed out, the ST220 is a more exclusive car than the Aston Martin DB9.
That’s not because it was a bad car, in fact, quite the opposite. With the ST220 Ford were directly challenging the German autobahn stormers, and although the car delivered on every level, in a world of badge-snobbery the Mondeo simply lacked kudos compared to the likes of BMW and Audi.
On its release in 2002 the ST220 would have set you back £21,745. Today you can pick one up for next to bugger all, making them one of the best second-hand buys on the market. The interior is jam-packed with all the goodies you’d expect to find on a flagship model. Quick Clear windscreen, air-con, and electrically adjusted everything were all standard fit. Whilst touches like sporty dials, leather steering wheel, and those huge, comfy yet supportive heated leather Recaros make the ST220 stand aloft the rest of the Mondy range.
Under the bonnet you’ll find a 2967cc Duratec V6 kicking out a respectable 220bhp and healthy 200 lb/ft torque, Ford got the ST220’s powerplant spot-on.
Early cars were equipped with a five-speed, but the 2003-on cars have a fantastic Getrag six-speeder. The extra gear not only makes motorway journeys more relaxing, but the slightly lower ratios on the first five gears mean you can always keep the rev-happy V6 buzzing when the mood suits.
Available as five-door hatch, four-door saloon, and estate models the ST220 features subtle styling with revised bumpers, side skirts, and 18in alloys are spotted by true petrolheads but go unnoticed by those not in the know. The hatchback model is by far the most popular, the saloon is considered the ugly duckling of the bunch, whilst the extra load space offered by the estate increases its desirability and price over the hatchback models.
Ford Mondeo ST220 Stats (2002 – 2007)
Engine: 3ltr Duratec V6
Top speed: 151mph
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Unlike Fords of old rust isn’t the biggest problem with the ST220. Instead it is the electrics that are the most important thing to check. Fiddle with all the knobs and buttons and make sure everything works. The heated seat elements are a common failure and will cost over £350 to sort.
Also on the test drive listen out for knocks and rattles coming from the suspension. If the car wallows about the dampers are probably past it, and if there’s any knocking from the rear the subframe bushes are most likely shot to bits. If this is ignored for any period of time the bolts can work loose and cause the subframe to bend and twist.
TUNING AN ST220
The 3ltr Duratec is pretty much bob-on from the factory. A remap, air filter and decent exhaust will wake things up and improve the overall driving experience, but don’t expect anything much above a 20bhp increase. One area to spend your money on is brakes. Although the standard stoppers are quite big at 300mm, the single pot calipers are prone to fading when used hard. A set of AP Racing 4-pots and 330mm discs will do the job nicely and fit straight under the stock rims. Lowering kits are available for the ST220, but with handling that would make Ronaldo jealous as standard many owners don’t bother.
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