Top Gear's greatest cars of the last 30 years: Ford Mondeo and Fiat Multipla | Top Gear
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Top Gear's greatest cars of the last 30 years: Ford Mondeo and Fiat Multipla

What? A Mondeo? A *Multipla* for goodness sake?

Published: 01 Nov 2023
 

You what? A Mondeo? A Multipla? What were you people on? From a 2023 perspective those are entirely understandable questions, but let’s cast our minds back for a brief moment.

Ford used to be massive in Britain. But apart from motorsport specials, the cars were cheap to own and tinselly, but crude and dreary to drive. Then came the Mondeo. For decades after, Ford was everyone’s hero for making cars at ordinary prices that pulled the rug from ‘premium’ stuff by looking smarter and driving better. It even became Blair’s political shorthand for a new generation who deserved and expected better than the old.

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For three generations the Mondeo nailed it. It was shorthand for excellent everyperson family car. (Confession: it was the MkII that won our gong back in the day, but in assembling this retrospective we ended up with a late facelifted MkI. Old Ferraris are easily found but old Mondeos have slunk into the night.) Mondeo 4 was designed for the US and wasn’t as nice, but mainly the narrative had moved: only premium or crossovers get market traction these days.

That same tectonic shift makes the Multipla look a mad Car of the Year choice now. Actually, in truth it was a bit mad then. Three front seats abreast, a strange but strangely rational cabin, and an external resemblance to a Mekon. Most people couldn’t stomach it, even at a time when mass brand MPVs were A Thing. Yet to us it was magnetically intriguing and for a while it gave hope of biodiversity in the automotive jungle.

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