Have you ever had a habit you just can’t break? Now, I don’t mean smoking or drinking or waking up in a bus shelter while dressed as a nun.
I mean the sort of silly routine that you simply cannot shake. And in my case, that’s the typical old-man quirk of referring to something by the name it had when you were a lad: Opal Fruits for Starburst. Datsun for Nissan. That kind of thing.
So now I find myself calling my new Focus ST250 a Mondeo. All the time. Not because I’m going senile, or anything (well, not that I recall). No, it’s because I have, since 2001, always had a Mondeo as an everyday car. Mk1s, Mk2s, Mk3s. Zetecs and V6s. For hundreds of thousands of miles. Even now, I still own three Mondeos – two Mk1 wagons and an ST220 estate.
And it’s the ST220 that, after a decade’s ownership, has been sacked off in favour of something much, much better: a Focus ST-3 estate. The Fondeo. A properly good Blue Oval.
Which brings me to another of my habits: buying mid-blue Fords. I’ve currently got four: a Crystal Blue Sapphire Cosworth. A Performance Blue ST220. A Melina Blue Puma. And this Spirit Blue Fondeo.
Originally I’d fancied a Race Red ST250, but when this car came up I simply couldn’t refuse. The price was right but, more importantly, it has all the options: Style Pack, sat nav, reversing camera, cruise control, privacy glass and so on.
And it drives brilliantly. The wrap-around seating position lets you feel as much a part of the car as a Mk1 Escort. The leather Recaros hug you like a clingy ex. The in-gear acceleration and sheer driveability make it an easier cross-country weapon than anything else I own – regardless of the Fondeo’s substantial power deficit. It can even achieve more than 30 miles to the gallon.
Okay, there’s more torque-steer than a stage-three RS Turbo, but we’ll deal with that imminently. It also runs out of puff pretty much as soon as it’s on song, so a remap will be vital to release more boost. Yes, I’d like it to sit lower. And yes, an RS four-wheel-drive transplant would be rather beneficial.But, right now, this car can be enjoyed for what it is: a fast, frugal and flipping brilliant Fondeo.
The downsides? Nothing other than the buying experience. Personally, when asking on the phone about a car’s bodywork, I’d expect a Ford main dealer to mention rust bubbles on the rear wheelarches. I’d expect a repair under the manufacturer’s anti-perforation warranty. I wouldn’t expect ‘the biggest independent Ford retailer in the UK’ to spend hours arguing that corrosion is acceptable on a four-year-old Focus with full service history. I certainly wouldn’t expect them to charge me a £98.99 ‘admin fee’ for what seems to be checking that the car was legally fit for sale. Not good, eh?