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mondeo rout

mondeo rout

mondeo rout

IF you thought BMW divided opinion with the X6, then the design snobs will surely go into overdrive at the sight of the new X4.

You see, there was a certain section of the motoring world that decried the arrival of the coupe-like SUV as a "flash in the pan" and "a car that was made just for the sake of it" for "people who had more money than sense".

Well, somebody somewhere liked it, and the funkiness department in the Bavarian car giant has decided there's not nearly enough quirkiness in the world - so they've unleashed a Mini Me.

Based on the already tried and tested chassis of the X3, it's sportier brother - called an SAC (Sports Activity Coupe) - is 14mm longer and a whopping 36mm closer to the ground, giving the driver that coveted sporty feel.

Design-wise they've learned from the Chris Bangle days and have opted for the "it'll grow on ye" philosophy, which I must admit is working.

He did, after all, design the mighty X6, though the younger sibling isn't half as aggressive or indeed imposing, but it's still radical enough in an ultra-conservative kinda way to pull it off.

Compared with the X3 and to a lesser degree the X5, it looks more pumped and in-your-face, and little touches like the larger air intakes under the bigger foglamps and the sculpted lines in the bonnet give it some serious street cred.

Climb inside, though, and you're back in familiar BMW territory with wall-to-wall leather, polished aluminium, piano black inlays and, above all, that luxuriously premium feel.

Yes, the cabin is identical to the X3, complete with red stitching in the headrests and around the contours of the sports seats which are embossed with the X logo.

The de-cluttered dash is dominated by the familiar iDrive which controls the car's infotainment system through a mouse-like dial.

Here you can flick from radio to music streaming to Bluetooth to the vital stats - all displayed on a colour screen in the centre console.

There's a decent enough amount of space on board too, with better- than-expected head and leg-room for four adults, but be warned that although this is a five-seater the middle pew is raised and not recommended for a long journey.

The boot isn't as big as you'd expect either, with 500 litres of luggage space, but it does almost triple to 1,400 litres when the 40-20-40 split-fold seats are down. The only real down side is the higher than usual boot lip which will prove a little too steep for those with delicate backs.

Standard kit is generous too, with 18-inch alloys, automatic tailgate, climate control, parking sensors front and rear, leather sports steering wheel, performance control, xenon lights, variable sports steering and Business Media Package which includes sat nav with real-time traffic info.

But it's all about the drive, which is nothing short of flawless. As you'd expect, you get the perfect mix of coupe-like handling coupled with limo luxury with the added spice of proper 4-wheel drive.

The 3.0 litre, 258bhp V6 oil burner is sublime, especially twinned with the 8-speed automatic gearbox. The X4 starts at €57,720.

THE all-new Mondeo has been officially launched in Spain, getting rave reviews from those who have driven it. Due in Irish showrooms next month, the flagship Ford starts at €28,995.