No more than a few miles down the road after picking up the car in Dublin a van driver chose to cruise along beside us on the motorway.
After a while he offered an approving nod of the head, and then came the full thumbs up. He was admiring a Ford Mondeo, not an ordinary Mondeo, a striking 'frozen white' one as Ford class the colour, but more particularly a Mondeo from the all dressed-up ST-Line.
This is the newest, high end class version from Ford offering high-power engine derivates with sport suspension to enhance the driving dynamics. The ST-Line couples sporty styling with Mondeo's well proven dynamism and it is offered with the private buyer mainly in mind. The entry price for Mondeo is €28,845.
In ST-Line guise, which is inspired by Ford's acclaimed ST performance models, the key standard features pack is greatly enhances (see features list below) and the drive is taken to a new, higher level. Here prices begin at €39,745.
The Ford Fiesta and Focus got the ST-Line treatment last year, and now full stocks are available for the EcoSport, Kuga, S-Max, the Edge and, of course, Mondeo. The idea appears to be to split ranges above the entry level into sports and luxury trim levels.
The visuals - the car was all white, including door handles and wing mirrors with dark panoramic roof, complete with blind - on our test car were a definite winner in the court of public opinion.
Not one person had a bad word to say. Most were surprised Mondeo looked so trendy. For all the heavy packaging it offers, the Vignale styling wouldn't catch the eye as sharply as the the ST-Line does.
The Mondeo ST-Line comes with a slightly stiffer sports suspensions - lowered by 100mm - that gives the car a more pleasing run on the road. We drove the 180ps version mated to a sharp 6-speed manual gearbox, which was ideally planted on an elevated plane exactly to hand.
While we rarely went near exploring the full potential of the car, a few daring blasts here and there along the motorway confirmed the edge Ford had promised it would deliver.
Smart looking to the eye; composed to drive. The sharpness and accuracy of the steering is consistent, be the drive on the open road or at slow speeds in urban areas. The Mondeo is a big bodied car, and big is the reference point too for interior space and in terms of boot size.
You are accommodated in comfortable sports seats, which are set lower to fall in with other changes. There is nice soft surface finish to the dash, and the centre console is easy to use and read. Ford have taken Mondeo to an interesting place, and if the range is far from new to the market, in its latest guise it most definiteley isn't showing the years.
Ford Mondeo ST-Line +, 2.0 Duratorq TDCi (with auto stop/start), 5-door, 6-speed manual €41,920, 180ps, 400Nm torque, C02 117g/km, max speed 225kph, 0 to 100kph in 8.3 seconds, fuel consumption - urban 5.1 (55.3mpg), extra urban 4.1 (68.9), combined 4.5 (62.7), annual road tax €200.
Key standard features - full body Styling Kit, 18” Rock Metallic alloy wheels, LED DTRL’s high loss sport grilles, black window line, exterior ST-Line badges, unique ST-Line seats/steering wheel, sport pedals/scuff plates, SYNC 3, keyless entry/start, electric handbrake and Hill launch assist, Quick Clear heated windscreen, dual zone climate control, MyKey, cruise control, auto lights/wipers, lane keeping aid and traffic sign recognition, front and rear parking sensors, heated front seats.
Additional options on test vehicle - Winter pack plus (heated steering wheel and heated front seats) €70; Panoramic roof €950; rear view camera €600; rear spoiler €330; privacy glass €150; -wy head restraint €75.