The range-topping ST220, the flagship of the Ford passenger car range, is a four-door sedan distinguished from its Mondeo stablemates by its sporty front and rear aprons, ultra-thin rear spoiler, subtle body kit, unique front and rear bumpers, projector style front fog lights, twin brushed steel exhaust tailpipes and multi-spoke 18 inch light alloy wheels.
As is the case with the Focus ST170 the numerals "220" refer to the vehicle's engine power output in brake horsepower.
A genuine 250 km/h sports sedan, the ST 220 is powered by a 3-litre version of the Duratec V6 engine which delivers 166 kW of power and 280 Nm of torque. It is capable of sprinting from 0 to 100km/h in just 7.5 seconds.
It also gets the ultra-lightweight Durashift six-speed manual transmission, a completely new development from Ford-Getrag, while the suspension has been tweaked to match the increase in power.
In addition the car has been lowered by 15 mm at the front and rear, with shorter, harder springs combined with tighter shock absorber specifications.
The wheelbase has been lengthened, creating more space in the rear, and the track has been widened, giving improved road holding and handling.
The feature list is long. The steering column is adjustable for height (approximately 20 degrees) and reach (approximately 40 mm), and there's emergency brake assist (EBA) which increases the initial brake pressure up to the wheel locking limit during emergency braking.
The Mondeo ST220 is also equipped with Bosch 5.7 anti-lock brakes and an Electronic Stability Program (ESP). Driver, front passenger and side airbags and side air curtains are standard and they can be deployed in stages.
The upmarket passenger compartment features a dash containing instruments with silver coloured backgrounds.
There are one-touch power windows which also have automatic one-touch closing with anti-trap protection on all the doors, a warning buzzer which sounds when the vehicle is left with the lights switched on, as well as a door ajar warning.
There are heated sports seats by Recaro which offer improved side support and feature an adjustable lumbar support. The sports seats are leather covered and are electrically adjustable.
Exterior styling touches include a sculpted aerodynamic bottom lip running the entire length of the body and front fenders with pronounced wheel arch flares.
At the rear are large round dual stainless steel exhausts, plus a very subtle boot-lid spoiler.
The ST220 has newly-developed 18-inch light alloy wheels with a 16-spoke design and 225/40 R 18 tyres.
On the road
This is a lusty contender, with a performance profile output similar to the BMW 330i - certainly not to be scoffed at.
Acceleration is very brisk, and in-gear flexibility superb. And that 6-speed gearbox is a lot smoother than BMW's, and much slicker in operation.
Handling, too, is up to BMW standard, and it's only in extremis that one realises this is a front-driver, with understeer quickly countered by the ESP electronics.
The interior is much better than the first Mondeo Ghias (which have now been upgraded) giving a cleaner and less cluttered appearance.
Brakes are super-smooth and very positive, and steering crisp and well-balanced.
The ST220 requires servicing every 20 000 km and the FordProtect maintenance plan is included as standard in the retail price of R286 035.
Instead of being valid for five years/60 000 km (as was the case with the previous Mondeo), it now runs for five years/100 000 km. The three-year/unlimited km FordProtect roadside assistance plan is also standard on the ST220.
The ST220 is available exclusively in Ford's "Performance Blue" exterior colour as well as five other regular colour options.
There are now three models in the Mondeo range - the 3-litre ST 220, an upgraded Ghia 2-litre (R217 825), and a price-conscious 2-litre Trend (R199 855).