The SVT Contour left such a horrible impression on me, I am now writing this review seven years after owning one. My first mistake was buying a first gen specialty car. Problems became as persistent as the car was fun to drive. Leaking truck, upper reading light console broke, dash started to warp around 62K miles and the first of three transmissions was replaced at 64K miles by Ford dealership. A year later tranny goes out again: $1,800 at Amco. Two weeks later tranny fails again; Amco replaces for free under warranty. Ford denies mechanical failures are due to poor design. Maintenance costs would have yielded a moderately used BMW at the time.
Exhaust tone. Best part was the Mitsubishi engine at least it didn't fail.
Ford process engineering is now much improved. I would suggest reintroducing SVT compact models under stricter quality control. Over all the car was fun to drive when it would drive. I would avoid buying this car now (2008) unless you are a mechanic - trust me. MPG was reasonable at 20/22 city/hwy.