Undoubtedly the ST220’s crowning glory, its factory suspension setup provides wonderfully poised handling, hot-hatch agility and a remarkably comfortable ride quality. If the car you’re testing doesn’t feel sharp and precise, something’s not right. The ST220’s standard front end was far removed from the run- of-the-mill Mondeo, combining a few Mk3 parts with Jaguar X-Type 3.0 components, specially-tuned dampers, 15mm-lowered springs and shorter anti-roll bar links.
Front anti-roll bar bushes are weak, leading to vague handling – although this could also be due to a dry steering column bush or poor wheel alignment. Mondeos are particularly sensitive to steering geometry, which also results in excessive wear to those 225/40R18 tyres.
Rear suspension parts are shared with regular Mk3s, meaning saloons and hatchbacks consume rear subframe bushes, resulting in a sloppy, clonking rear end and recurrent MoT failures; polyurethane replacements are the fit-and-forget solution. The ST220 estate has an entirely different rear suspension layout ( shared with the Jaguar X-Type) and doesn’t suffer such bush problems; you should, though, check the rear arms for distortion caused by jacking in the wrong place.
All ST220s wear out their wheel bearings regularly, which rumble when rolling along. The front bearings are stock Jaguar X-Type parts, so they’re not difficult or expensive to source. The same can be said for front wishbones, ball joints and suspension links, while rear bearings are regular Mondeo kit.
On the subject of wheels, don’t be surprised to see an ST220 with tatty alloys. The factory 7.5x18in 16-spokes originally featured a funky diamond- cut finish, which looked fantastic for a few years before the lacquer peeled away and corrosion took hold from underneath. Refurbishment is an expert task but powder- coating, respraying or replacing is an easier solution. That said, an ST220 on non-standard alloys never looks quite right.