Intended as a world car, it replaced the Ford Sierra in Europe, the Ford Telstar in a large portion of Asia and other markets, while the Contour and Mercury Mystique replaced the Ford Tempo and Mercury Topaz in North America. Unlike the Sierra, the Mondeo is front-wheel drive in its most common form, with a rarer four-wheel drive version available on the Mk1 car only. Instigated in 1986, the design of the car cost Ford US$6 billion. It was one of the most expensive new car programs ever. The Mondeo was significant as its design and marketing was shared between Ford USA in Dearborn, and Ford of Europe. Its codename while under development reflected thus: CDW27 signified that it straddled the C & D size classes and was a "World Car".
The car was launched in the midst of turbulent times at Ford of Europe, when the division was haemorrhaging hundreds of millions of dollars, and had gained a reputation in the motoring press for selling products which had been designed by accountants rather than engineers. The fourth generation Escort and Orion of 1990 was the zenith of this cost-cutting/high price philosophy which was by then beginning to backfire on Ford, with the cars being slated for their sub standard ride and handling, though a facelift in 1992 had seen things improve a little. The Sierra had sold well, but not as well as the all-conquering Cortina before it, and in Britain, it had been overtaken in the sales charts by the newer Vauxhall Cavalier. Previously loyal customers were already turning to rival products and by the time of the Mondeo's launch, the future of Europe as a Ford manufacturing base was hanging in the balance. The new car had to be good, and it had to sell.
Despite being billed as a world car, the only external items the Mondeo shared with the Contour were the windscreen, front windows, front mirrors and door handles. Even the interior was slightly different. The CDW27 project turned out not to be a true world car in the sense that the original Ford Focus was; one design for the world.
Safety was a high priority in the Mondeo design with a driver's side airbag (it was the first ever car sold from the beginning with a driver's airbag in all of its versions, which helped it achieve the ECOTY title in 1993) side-impact bars, seat belt pretensioners, and ABS (higher models) as standard features. Other features for its year included adaptive damping, self-leveling suspension (top station wagon models), traction control (V6 and 4WD versions), and heated front windscreen, branded Quickclear.
The interiors were usually well appointed, featuring velour trim, an arm rest with CD and tape storage, central locking (frequently remote), power windows (all round on higher models), power mirrors, flat-folding rear seats, etc. Higher specification models had leather seats, trip computers, electric sunroof, CD changer and alloy wheels.
Three versions of the 16-valve Zetec engine were used. The 1.6 L version (rated at 90 bhp) from the Escort was used, a 1.8 (115bhp) also found in the Escort and Fiesta (105/130bhp), while a new 136 bhp 2.0 L version was launched.
An alternative to the Zetec engines was the Endura-D 1.8 L turbodiesel. This engine had origins in the older 1.6 L diesel design used in the Fiesta and elsewhere. Although not without merits, it was not seen as a strong competitor to other European diesels such as that produced by Peugeot. The contrast between this unit and the competition seemed enormous by the time the engine was dropped in 2000.
A less popular engine (for the UK and Ireland) was introduced in 1994 in the form of the 170 bhp 2.5 L 24-valve V6 Duratec unit, primarily included for markets where four-cylinder petrol engines are not favored and are usually intended for the upmarket European buyer. This engine, first unveiled in the Mondeo's North American cousin, the Ford Contour, is characterized by its smooth operation, chain-driven camshafts and an ability to operate using only half its 24 valves at low engine speeds. Fuel economy was reasonable, with the automatic barely much worse than the manual (but far less reliable). This engine was originally branded 24v (when valve count was all important), but later on sold as the more glamorous sounding V6.
This engine was also used to introduce the new "ST" (Sports Technology) brand to the Mondeo range as a flagship model, the ST24 in 1997. The power of the engine stayed at 170 bhp, the same as other 2.5 L-engined models, but the ST featured unique cabin trim, unique 16 in alloy wheels, and a full RSA (Rally Sport Appearance) bodykit as standard. The bodykit option was listed as a delete option for those that did not want it fitted as standard. This was later replaced by the Limited Edition ST200 in 2000, featuring a modified version of the V6 Duratec with a power output of 200 bhp.
Although neither of these models ever sold in high numbers, the marketing was important to Ford as it was an introduction to the ST range as a sportier side to the full range, especially significant as apart from the Focus RS, both the XR and RS model ranges were phased out during the 1990s.
Additional trim levels in other European markets included:
The facelift saw almost every external panel replaced, leaving only the doors and roof the same as the original Mk1 model. Even the extractor vents on the rear doors were replaced by a panel bearing the name Mondeo. The most notable change was the introduction of a version of Ford's corporate 'oval' grille. The saloon version featured some distinctive rear lights. These incorporated an additional reflector panel that extended around the top and the side of the rear wings. Unlike the iterations seen on the heavily facelifted Scorpio and Mk4 Fiesta during the previous year, this facelift was well-received.
The interior was also mildly revised though the basic dashboard achitecture was the same as before. Safety specification was improved, with the car gaining a full-size driver airbag in place of the smaller 'euro-bag' fitted in the MK1 Mondeo. The MK2 gained a 'flagged' 3 star rating in EUORNCAP testing, which was average for rivals of its time (the same as the Vauxhall Vectra, better than the Citroen Xantia and worse than the Nissan Primera).
The Zetec engine was thoroughly revised in 1998 which was far more refined and smoother which was something the original engine lacked at high revs.
Ford briefly sold a version using the 2.0 L Zetec engine and four-wheel drive, available between 1995 and 1996 on cars with Si, Ghia and Ghia X trim. The timing was not ideal though as four-wheel drive had already become synonymous with large SUVs such as the Land Rover Discovery, and the bottom dropped out of the four-wheel drive sedan market. People who would tolerate the knock on performance and economy, preferred to graduate to a full-blown SUV, rather than a sedan with good all-round traction; especially since SUVs had become fashionable at the time.
In Europe, the Mondeo is considered large, but in other markets such as the United States and Australia, it had not fared well, as there were larger models that had stronger brand loyalty and offered better value for money. Ford claimed that it was a 'world car', but in a letter to Autocar magazine in the UK, a Ford dealer retorted 'What world was it designed for?' Because of this, the Contour and Mystique proved unpopular with American buyers. While the Contour sold at an average rate, the Mystique fizzled. The Mondeo Mk3 was much larger than the Mk1/2 version, but was not sold in North America, where Ford now offers the Fusion.
There is however another theory advanced by some motoring journalists: that because the Contour and Mystique were not created in the United States, it suffered from a lack of enthusiasm from inside Ford's North American operations. Those same theorists point to the fact that the BMW 3 Series — arguably a "world car" in the sense, one version is sold globally — does quite well in the United States and it is the same size as the Contour and Mystique.
The Mondeo was released in Australia in 1995, but was not a sales success, where, similarly, there was a much larger local model, the Falcon, and was dropped in 2001. Ford Australia withdrew completely from the medium-sized segment of the Australian market, arguing that it was in decline. The wagon version, the first medium-sized Ford of its kind to be sold in Australia since the Cortina, was dropped in 1999. It struggled against Japanese models such as the Honda Accord and Subaru Liberty, as well as the Holden Vectra, also imported from Europe, although unlike the Mondeo, briefly assembled locally. The Mondeo has since been returned to Australia in 2007 with an all-new model.
By contrast, the Mondeo (like the Cortina long before it) was a success story in New Zealand, the Mk3 model in particular being voted Car of the Year in 2001 by Autocar New Zealand and National Business Review. In addition, many earlier model Mondeos, imported used from Japan were also sold locally (Japan was also a good market for the Mondeo, a rare feat in a country with a high proportion of domestic automobiles). It was launched to replace the Telstar in New Zealand following the plant closure in 1997.
In its final year in China the Ford Mondeo M2000 gained a front fascia not dissimilar from the outgoing Mercury Mystique's but had Ford badges. Its rear end was identical to that of the European models.
In South Africa, the trim levels offered were:
The ST200 was then launched as the Enthusiast's car, with a tuned 2.5 litre V6 24v engine producing . This engine made the ST200 go from standing to in around 7.7 seconds, and reach a maximum speed of . Tuning included a different throttle body, cams, flywheel, and upper manifold to name a couple. This version of the Mondeo also had even better sports suspension than the ST24, and came with full-leather Recaro sports bucket-seats. The ST200 was only released to the public in Imperial Blue colour and a very limited number in white (mainly for use by the police). The North American counterpart to this model was known as the Ford Contour SVT.
Launched in October 2000, and seen as the third generation model, this Mondeo was considerably larger than its predecessor. Although Ford abandoned its New Edge design theme for the Mondeo Mk3, it still borrowed some styling cues from the Focus Mk1, giving it an overall effect which many critics felt was more restrained and mature than the Focus, if much less distinctive. Two of the old car's biggest weaknesses, the modest rear legroom, and uncompetitive diesel version were addressed by a longer wheelbase and the new Duratorq diesel engine. The basic chassis and suspension design was carried over from the previous generation, which meant that the car continued its predecessor's reputation for class leading handling and ride.
Following the standard setting interior of the Volkswagen Passat Mk4 in 1996, Ford paid a great deal of attention to the Mk3's interior and was the first mainstream manufacturer to react to the new standard set by Volkswagen. Ford dispensed with the rounded American style interior of the Mk1, and developed a more sober 'Germanic' design, which not only seemed more sophisticated but, more importantly, was of a higher quality due to the use of more expensive materials.
As with its predecessor, passive safety was a major selling point of the 2000 Mondeo. With an even stronger bodyshell, Ford introduced its so-called "Intelligent Protection System" (IPS), which used an "intelligent" array of sensors based on a neural network, to decide the best combination of safety devices (traditional front passenger airbags, side airbags and curtain airbags) to deploy for a given crash situation. To enhance active safety, all models were fitted with anti-lock brakes and electronic brake-force distribution, with electronic stability program (ESP) available as an option. Ford's marketing of the time claimed the Mondeo was 'One of the safest places to be'. However, EURONCAP testing of the Mk3 found that it protected worse than most key rivals (Vectra, C5, Avensis, Laguna), achieving a lower-end 4 star rating. Ford redesigned part of the car and it was re-tested, but the higher-than-average risk of chest injury to the driver in the frontal impact remained.
The Mondeo established itself as Britain's most popular in its sector and held this position every year from 2001 onwards, though this size of car has fallen slightly in popularity during the 2000s. This version of the Mondeo has never come higher than sixth in the SMMT's official list of the top selling cars in the UK each year. In 2003, it came tenth in the list.
The archaic Endura-E 1.8 L turbodiesel engine was dropped, and replaced by a more sophisticated 2.0 L Duratorq direct-injection (TDCi) unit with a variable geometry turbine. This clever turbine system allows a certain amount of overboost, giving an extra 10% or so of torque for short periods. This engine, known within Ford as the "Puma"-type Duratorq, was first seen in the Transit in detuned form.
In June 2003, the Mondeo was given a very mild upgrade, the new models being identifiable by the larger chrome honeycomb grille, a new central dashboard made from higher quality materials, with electronic climate control, either a standard Ford radio, Sony radio, or a satellite navigation radio/CD player, which also has climate control built into the unit in lieu of the space taken up by the unit. The Durashift automatic is now available with steering wheel control, while a 96 kW (130 PS) common rail version of the Duratorq turbodiesel engine became available. The petrol engines were revised at this stage also — the new SCI (direct-injection) version of the 1.8 L Duratec engine was introduced, which generates 4 kW (5 PS) more than the standard unit. In addition, equipment was upgraded across the range — with trip computer now standard on all models, and cruise control is also standard in selected markets.
In 2005, there were two new Duratorq direct-injection (TDCi) options, a 2.2L with 114 kW (155 PS) and a detuned version of the 2.0L with 65 kW (89 PS). Also, the Seat Belt Warning System was added and is now standard, with an audible/visual warning signal reminding the driver to fasten his/her seat belt. The styling was upgraded again, the most notable difference being tweaked taillights.
The fourth generation Mondeo (codename: CD345) was officially unveiled in 5-door production form in late 2006. Based on the EUCD platform developed with Volvo, the platform is the same used in the new large MPVs Galaxy and S-MAX, but not the North American Ford Fusion or the Mazda6 in Japan. It will also be used for several Volvos, for the new Land Rover Freelander, and even for the new Jaguar X-Type, though the latter may not be replaced.
The Mk4 Ford Mondeo was released in May 2007 in the UK where it is currently available in five different trim levels: Edge, Zetec, Ghia, Titanium and Titanium X. In February 2008, Ford announced that in some European markets the Mondeo will be made available with a new Titanium S series trim. This model aims to add an even more 'sporty character' than the current Titanium series. In March 2008, a new 2.2 TDCi common-rail diesel engine will be available on Mondeo providing excellent power accelerating 0-60 mph in 8.4 seconds on the saloon and great fuel performance returning 45.6 mpg combined. Also available in March 2008 will be Mondeo ECOnetic based on the Zetec series. The Mondeo ECOnetic is powered with a 1.8 TDCI diesel that returns CO2 ratings of just 139 g/km on the 5 door.
Although the fourth production model, after the Mk3 Galaxy, S-MAX and C-MAX, to adopt Ford's current 'kinetic' design language, the Mondeo's design theme was first shown at the 2005 Frankfurt Motor Show, which gave an indication to the look of the Mk4 Mondeo. The new car, in estate bodystyle, was pre-launched in 'concept' form at the Paris Motor Show on 30 September, 2006.
The new platform will allow for the use of Volvo’s five-cylinder petrol engine, already featured in the Focus ST and S-Max. The petrol engines include a 1.6-litre with two power outputs (110 PS & 125 PS), the 2.0-litre (145 PS), 2.3-litre (161 PS) for automatic models only, and a 2.5-litre five cylinder turbo with . Performance models may come with engines from Jaguar and Volvo.
The new Mondeo uses the new electro-hydraulic steering system, first used on the C-MAX, that sharpens the steering response, and helps to save fuel Inside, the Mk4 features Ford's Human-Machine Interface (HMI) first seen on the Galaxy and S-Max whilst an enhanced instrument cluster featuring a 5 inch LCD for displaying trip computer and satellite navigation is standard on Titanium level models and available as an option on others. As has historically been the case with new Ford models, equipment levels have been downgraded slightly from the preceding generation - base specification models now have a manual heating/air-conditioning system in place of the climate control which was standard across all versions of the facelift Mk3. Also new on the Mk4 is the option of keyless starting of the engine via a "Ford Power" button on the dashboard.
A product placement promotional initiative made the Mk4 Mondeo James Bond's car for one incidental scene in Casino Royale, introducing the new model to global audiences in November 2006 on the launch day of the movie. Ford Group models have been prominent in the Bond franchise since 2002's Die Another Day, which featured an Aston Martin, a Jaguar convertible, and a Ford Thunderbird.
As with the previous model, the Mk4 Mondeo is not marketed in the US or Canada because Ford currently sells the same-class Fusion which was launched in 2005. The new Mondeo is not sold currently in Venezuela, Brazil or Colombia because the Fusion is sold there. It is, however, sold in Argentina.
The 2007 Mondeo marked the return to the Australian market after a six-year absence, due to a resurgence in popularity of medium-sized cars in the last few years. This is in no small part the result of high fuel prices making people reconsider purchasing large cars like the Ford Falcon. Marketing for the Mondeo in Australia has so far focused on the theme that the Mondeo looks good but offers even more than style, with television commercials showing silly quotes from celebrities such as Britney Spears ("I've been to lots of overseas places... like Canada") interspersed with scenes of the vehicle and finally the slogan "more than just good looks".
The Australian spec Mondeo TDCi took out the award for "Best Mid-Size Car over $28,000" for 2007 and was runner up for the "Car Of The Year" award.
Initial sales have been good in Australia, despite supply constraints from Europe limiting the car's success there. At this stage, the Mondeo is only sold as a sedan and hatch on the Australian market, in both diesel and petrol engines and in four trim levels; LX, TDCi, Zetec and XR5T. Only the 2.3L petrol, 2.5L petrol and 2.0L diesel engines are offered there, the 2.5 being the only model available with a manual transmission. Sales for the Mondeo haven't quite met expectations, with March sales being just below 400 (slightly more than the Holden Epica, but far less than the class leading Toyota Camry).
The Australian range has the following trim levels:
Ford ran a factory-sponsored team, called Ford Team Mondeo, for eight seasons. In 2000, the team expanded from two cars to three when drivers Alain Menu and Anthony Reid were joined by 1998 series champion Rickard Rydell, recruited from the disbanded Volvo team. The team dominated the 2000 season, finishing 1-2-3 (Menu-Reid-Rydell) in the drivers' standings and winning the manufacturers' championship by a staggering 104 points.
A complete overhaul of the BTCC following the 2000 season saw the supertouring regulations scrapped as the series moved towards lighter and less expensive race cars based on compact car chassis and not midsize sedans. Ford withdrew from BTCC competition prior to 2001.