1998 Ford Contour SVT

Ford Contour SVT (1998)

We liked the Contour SVT. This car comes in at around $25,000.

Our Producer, Dougie Berman, likened the Contour SVT to a poor man's 3-seriesBMW. We think that might be going a little far, but we can appreciate hissentiments.

There's no doubt--it was fun to drive. It has a smooth-shifting,five-speed manual transmission, and it holds the road and handles well.The engine was a treat. On the curvy, hilly roads of northernMassachusetts and southern New Hampshire, it seemed to pull smoothly andstrongly in any gear, at any time. Just touch the gas in fifth gear whilegoing up a hill, and VRRROOOOM.

While all this is true, for another $5,000 you could actually buy a realBMW 3-series.

The "SVT" part of this Contour includes a tweaked engine, a specialhandling package, a different suspension, and other accouterments. It'smade by a small division (actually a subcontractor, we believe) of Fordthat's focusing on projects like this one. In other words, this is notyour everyday Ford Contour. The very fact that we're talking about it inthe same breath as BMW is proof enough. This car is very European in lookand feel.

What about this car didn't we like? Well, for one...it's still a Contour!You're not getting a BMW or a Porsche, but rather something from the samecompany that brought you the Pinto and the Fiesta. The switches and knobsand stuff were more plasticky than you'd see on a 3-series. And theContour has only been out a few years, so it also might be too early totell about its long-term reliability.

The Contour SVT is a very nice car, but our question is this: Who's goingto spend this much money on car that, well, is still a Contour? Let's faceit--lots of people would rather splurge, borrow a few extra thousand bucksand go for the BMW, right? So, we're unsure who's actually going to go outand put down $25,000 for this car. But, then again, that's Ford's problem,not ours. And, of course, 5,000 bucks is a lot of money to most people, somaybe they've got something here?

Then there's also the crowd that doesn't want to be seen in a BMW. Thereare people who like the anonymity of driving a Ford Contour that's secretlya performance car under the skin. And, more importantly, they won't haveeveryone automatically assuming they're a yuppie scumball stockbroker.We'll have to see.

But, one thing we can say for certain: the Contour SVT is an exciting carto drive.

View cars.com model report on this vehicle.


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