FORD MONDEO 2.0 ECOBOOST FIVE-DOOR
Price: $174,999 with COE
Engine: 1,999cc 16-valve inline-4 turbocharged
Transmission: Six-speed automatic with manual select
Power: 240bhp at 5,300rpm
Torque: 345Nm at 2,300-4,900rpm
0-100kmh: 7.9 seconds
Top speed: 240kmh
Fuel consumption: 8 litres/100km
Agent: Regent Motors
Everybody is talking about how Hyundai and Kia have caught up with the Japanese in terms of quality, design and performance.
But few have noticed that Ford has quietly crept up from behind to give the German premium makes a run for their euros.
Recent products from the Blue Oval are surprisingly impressive. The pint- sized Fiesta is a barrel of fun, the Kuga is easily the best compact sport-utility vehicle in its class and the Mondeo no longer competes with the Camry - but with executive sedans from Volkswagen, Audi and, perhaps, even BMW.
The Mondeo Five-Door featured here is Ford's answer to the Audi A5 Sportback. It is as easy on the eye as the A5 and boasts an equivalent build quality and level of refinement, except that it is bigger and roomier.
Like its four-door twin, it is chockful of premium features. You get LED headlights, adaptive cruise control, courtesy driver seat (which moves backwards to allow for easy egress), a reverse camera with guiding lines, a panoramic sunroof with roller blind and a keyless system with sensors on all doors.
If that is not enough to make a Mercedes owner a tad green, there is a spread of fine materials that line the cocooned cabin. Everything you see and touch conveys quality.
Safety aids include a lane-keeping system, blind-spot warning, collision mitigation and seven airbags.
In short, there is practically nothing that you can find in a German luxe model that you will not find in the Mondeo. Well, with the exception of navigation, that is.
But with phones as clever and data plans as affordable as they are today, all you really need is a mount on the dash to ensure you never get lost.
The Mondeo Five-Door's proposition is space and sportiness, although, in this case, the difference in styling lines between it and the four-door is very subtle. From the top, however, you will see that the Five-Door has an expansive glass roof that almost meets its big rear windscreen.
Lift its enormous motorised tailgate and you will find a huge boot. Put six pockets in the corners and sides and you can have a game of pool.
The tailgate opens at such a wide angle that the tip is as high as that of a full- fledged SUV. Like most premium cars, you can pre-set the opening angle - useful for low-clearance carpark spaces.
The tailgate can be opened via a button on the dash too.
On the move, the Mondeo Five-Door exudes the same sturdiness and confidence as its twin. It is 17kg, or 1 per cent, heavier, which makes it a wee bit thirstier, but does not make it any slower.
At 1.7 tonnes and with 240bhp from its turbo engine, the Ford still has a very decent 140bhp per tonne of body weight. A responsive throttle contributes to its breezy progress.
There are no major complaints in the ride and handling department either. Suspension travel over humps is a bit long and the dampers do not cancel out rebounds as well as those in the Kuga.
But overall, the Mondeo matches its German rivals in the way it tracks and corners, with noise and body movements kept to a minimum.
Like in fastbacks of old, you detect a faint low-frequency turbulence in the cabin at speeds above 70kmh when the hi-fi is off. Turn the music on to resolve this minor aural interference.
The car is priced $2,000 above its four-door sibling. At $174,999, it is costlier than a Camry, but significantly more affordable than an A5.
But in terms of quality, build and features, it is closer to the A5.