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Ford Mondeo Titanium 2.5 Estate Car Review | May 15, 2007

Driven January 2008

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Three hundred miles. Three hundred miles of driving without my legs. I didn't forget them, mind - they were there in the car with me, but simply rendered useless. All because of the Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) on this automatic Mondeo.

ACC technology has been around for a little while on exec-spec BMWs and Lexuses, using radar to monitor the distance between you and the car in front, slowing you automatically to the same speed from a safe distance.

Pull out into the next lane and it hauls you back up to your original speed. It's not a new trick, but it's indicative of all that's great about the new Mondeo that it pulls it off with such aplomb.

Because, in a week of solid driving, the ACC didn't get it wrong once, sensing lane changes with almost spooky prescience and even thumping on the brakes with impressive force when needed.

Ford says the ACC will only stop with a third the force of a human emergency stop - a fact I discovered with mild alarm some considerable time after my legs-free journey. But it was good enough to get me from deepest Cornwall to well inside the M25 without touching the brake or accelerator, changing speed on the steering wheel-mounted buttons.

OK, so the ACC is a cost option - and, at £1,000, it's not a super cheap cost option - but it's one that makes sense of the Mondeo's automatic gearbox, which is where it gets even more interesting.

On its own, the six-speed gearbox remains resolutely passive, no matter how hard you try to provoke it by mashing the accelerator. It is gloriously smooth - almost CVTish - when you let it do its own thing, but treats any attempt to be coaxed into early downshifts or hold onto its revs with all the enthusiasm of James May in an Ibiza nightclub.

Even when you flick the shifter into the Tiptronic-style 'Sport' mode, the changes are still languorous. But dispel such sporting pretentions, bolt the ACC on instead and you've got yourself a car that, legal disclaimers applying, basically drives itself.

Such automation could be disconcerting, terrifying even, but the solidity of the Mondeo manages to inspire total confidence and the ACC simply feels reassuring, almost natural. If you rack up big motorway miles, it could be the greatest innovation since the Little Chef Olympic Breakfast.

There is, inevitably, one tiny drawback: the economy. The auto 'box shaves 10 miles off each gallon of diesel compared with the manual transmission, which means a fuel bill that'll pile up pretty quickly on a long-distance schlep. The solution, as it happens, is very simple, though: spec the ACC and sell your legs on eBay for diesel money. They'll be optional extras soon.

Sam Philip

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