Steering feel twin test: Porsche 991 911 v Ford Mondeo

The Ford Mondeo has better steering feel than the Porsche 991 911 – could it really be so?

Well, there I was, circling Millbrook’s Hill Route during SMMT Test Day back in May last year, thinking just that. A few days earlier I’d driven the new EPAS-equipped Porsche 991; now, I was in a fleet-spec Mondeo, unwelcome comparisons to the world’s best selling sports car increasingly vivid. To the chagrin of the flag marshall, I did another lap, just to be sure.

Yup. Given £80k to choose a car with the more satisfying steering feel, from a pool of two, I’d eschew the 991 and choose a Ford Mondeo 1.6 TDCi Econetic. And put the other £60k towards the very best 997 GTS I could find.

Why the Ford? Because the Mondeo steering was firm and assured, not over-light. It had subtleties of weight change just off centre. It boasted the sort of nibbling accuracy I remembered from more modern 911s. It satisfied in a scalpel-like way into and through corners, with confident precision and pebble-perfect placement.

Most importantly, it writhed gently and near-constantly beneath my fingertips, that slighty squirmy chatter that has traditionally connected 911 drivers so faithfully to the ever-changing road surface beneath. You sense that you could close your eyes (not recommemnded) and still know about every bit of tarmac you were driving over.

None of that, shock horror, in the Porsche. During my eight-mile, speed-capped drive, it felt anesthetised. As if all the old 911 sensations had been numbed. It was the overriding impression I took from the otherwise surprisingly familiar 991 and I vowed to concentrate hard on it next time I drove one.

Finally, this week, I got to do it. 400 miles in a Carrera 4, from Reading to Wales and back.

And? Don’t worry. The satisfaction of steering a 911 is still there. Just not in the form we’re used to.

More to come on that (hey, it took me 111 miles to discover it – there’s a bit of detail to go into…). For now, props to Ford, for making a fleet-favourite hatch whose steering appears to have around-the-block appeal to better a brand-new 911. Stuff like that makes minor legends of cars.

Maybe now it’s time I took the low-CO2 Mondeo for a blast into Wales, to see if the appeal remains, or fades, or – like the 991 – simply grows with every mile.

Now that really WOULD be something.

+ Kia cee’d steering on the button

+ Drivers, be sporty: twiddle the knobs

+ From the Porsche archives: Carmine Red and the Panamera GTS