Ford Mondeo: History of fallen icons of management cars

The Mondeo was once one of the most popular middle-class cars that helped shape this segment in the early 1990s. He's on fire today. Due to low sales, Ford decided to remove the former popular model from its offer. Next year in March, the last pieces of the fourth generation will be created, and then the name Mondeo will disappear from the market. Recall in advance the history of the famous model.

The story of the middle-class fighter began in late 1992, when Ford introduced the successor to the successful Sierra. He bet on another name, a new platform with front-wheel drive (Sierra had a driven rear axle), a redesigned design and a high investment. The five-year development of the car cost three billion pounds and the Mondeo had virtually nothing to do with its predecessor. It was the world's first blue oval car, which was developed in Europe and the USA. The goal was to attract customers with virtually the same car. For the most part, it succeeded, only the American mission of the car was not very successful in the end.

The first generation Mondea replaced the Ford Sierra in 1993. | Photo: Ford
The first generation Mondea replaced the Ford Sierra in 1993. | Photo: Ford

Unlike the Sierra, the Mondeo dropped the three-door body. Otherwise, it was possible to choose between a classic sedan, liftback and the most practical station wagon. Ford still holds this trio (although not on the Czech market). While the sedan and liftback were less than 4.5 meters long, the station wagon swung over 4.6 meters. The wheelbase with a length of 2704 mm, which was almost 100 mm more than the Sierra, was the same for all versions, but the more modest space in the rear seats was one of the criticized features of the car.

Although the introduction of the car took place before the end of 1992, the first customers, made in Genk, Belgium, did not receive the car until the spring of the following year. At the beginning, there were three petrol engines of the Zetec series with a capacity of 1.6 to 2.0 liters, while the most powerful two-liter offered up to 100 kW, and the only Endbod turbodiesel with a capacity of 1.8 liters. In short, in the 1990s, even management cars preferred to consume petrol rather than diesel.

With four engines, it was possible to combine several trim levels, including the one named Ghia. Today, the name of the famous body shop is a bit forgotten, but it once expressed the highest possible Ford equipment. It was actually similar to today's Vignale design, which uses the name of another formerly popular body shop.

One of the major innovations that Mondeo has brought to market has been the introduction of a driver airbag as standard equipment for all trim levels without distinction. This primacy certainly helped European journalists, who voted Mondeo as the European car of 1994. But it was not just about the driver's bag.

Ford also offered an additional passenger airbag, traction control, adaptive shock absorbers, ABS and power steering. Especially the last two items can look a bit funny with today's optics, however, it is necessary to realize that ABS came into the standard equipment of the Mondea only in 1998, as well as side airbags.

The rejuvenated Mondeo of the first generation came with several major innovations. | Photo: Ford
The rejuvenated Mondeo of the first generation came with several major innovations. | Photo: Ford

For the first time, side airbags were included in the surcharges two years earlier. At that time, the rejuvenated model had its premiere (it can sometimes be found with the designation Mk2, but it is not the second generation), which brought with it not only a new exterior and interior design, but also a modified chassis or 18 kg less weight.

The range of engines was modified, the most significant was the launch of the sports version of the ST24 in 1997. It was the first sports Ford with the ST designation, under the hood was a 2.5-liter petrol six-cylinder with an output of 125 kW.

Mondeo was not the first use of a six-cylinder, the design before the modernization received an equally strong unit in 1994. Nevertheless, it is necessary to mention the new version due to the designation ST. The rejuvenated Mondeo, on the other hand, did not see all-wheel drive, which the original version, in conjunction with the two-liter petrol, offered for a short time. And until the arrival of the fourth generation, it was the only Mondeo with both axles.

Two years after the original Mondeo ST, an improved version arrived. The ST200 model still had a six-cylinder under the hood, but tuned to 151 kW. The car became iconic mainly in the blue paint of the exterior, which was followed by blue details in the cabin.

The most iconic version of the first Mondeo? Unequivocally model ST200 with blue paint. | Photo: Ford
The most iconic version of the first Mondeo? Unequivocally model ST200 with blue paint. | Photo: Ford

It is worth noting that the first generation of Mondeo was so popular in the UK, for example, that it entered the 1996 election campaign. It was to be a centrist and successful member of the middle class that the party wanted to address. The elections in 1997 were eventually overwhelmed by the party.

But the term also has a somewhat more derisive connotation. According to the Urban Dictionary , the "Mondeo man" is an average to boring British man who lives in Kent, owns a semi-detached house, has a wife and two children and drives… Yes, you guessed it, Ford Mondeo.

In any case, the first generation of Mondea constantly managed to surpass the limit of 100,000 cars sold on the British market. In America, for example, the car has not had such success. Since 1994, the sedan has been sold there as a Ford Contour, when it replaced the Tempo model. It was outdated but cheap, while Contour had a significantly higher price tag and stronger competition. In addition, at the same time, Ford offered a much larger, albeit older, Taurus for a similar price.

The Contour did not do so well in the store and ended without a direct successor in 2000. It was not until five years later that it was replaced by the Ford Fusion - a sedan that had only one name in common with the European hatchback of the same name. By the way, the Mercury, whose Mystique aimed among the more luxurious models in its class, also offered its own version of the Ford Contour. But even this car did not shine in the store.

The second generation of the car got a more angular design and a more austere interior. | Photo: Ford
The second generation of the car got a more angular design and a more austere interior. | Photo: Ford

The second generation of the Ford Mondeo, based on a modified original platform, arrived in 2000. Three-body versions were a matter of course, but the design of not only the exterior, but especially the interior went from curves to edges and a certain austerity. Luxurious analog clocks also appeared on the dashboard. The wheelbase stretched by 50 mm, so there was finally more space at the rear, and the station wagon even exceeded the 4.8 meter length.

As in the first generation, Ford emphasized safety, based on a better-reinforced body, six airbags as standard, a brake assist appeared and ESP as an extra charge. Nevertheless, most rivals were more successful in the Euro NCAP crash tests (Mondeo received four stars, but with a worse overall rating). And this was true even after the second test, which the organization carried out after modifications to the car in 2002.

The main change under the hood was the introduction of modern Duratorq TDDi and TDCi turbodiesel with a volume of 2.0 and later 2.2 liters. Duratec four-cylinder petrol engines had a volume of 1.8 or 2.0 liters and complemented the six-cylinder. Initially, a 125kW unit with a volume of 2.5 liters was offered, later a stronger three-liter appeared. However, the three-liter six-cylinder was first given to the sports version of the ST220 from 2002, which offered 166 kW, accelerated from 0 to 100 km / h in 7.6 seconds and drove up to 250 km / h. And remember? Mondeo ST220 also served in the Czech highway police.

Ford gradually improved the new Mondeo. The first facelift came in 2003 and with it, in addition to visual changes, several technical innovations. In addition, for the first time at Ford, the equipment included elements such as ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a Sony audio system and automatic wipers and lights.

Another modernization came in 2005, this time in addition to visual modifications with the aforementioned diesel four-cylinder 2.2 TDCi (which premiered a year earlier) or Bluetooth connectivity. It is worth mentioning that there was also a more luxurious version of Mondeo. His technique was used by the unsuccessful Jaguar X-Type. But his story is a different story.

Sales fell from the first generation, and the Mondeo became a more experienced middle-class fighter from a pioneer, but it was still a popular model. This was confirmed by the third generation performance, which took place on film screens. Ford became a partner of a bond company called Casino Royale, so in 2006 Agent 007 drove a brand new Mondeo.

The car was officially launched in 2007. It attracted attention with its redesigned design in the Kinetic language, then from the ground up with a new interior or a new platform, which was created in collaboration with Volvo. At that time, the blue oval was owned by a Swedish manufacturer. And the Mondeo also benefited, in addition to the new platform and a supercharged 2.5-liter five-cylinder with an output of 162 kW. Although the six-cylinder and sports versions of the ST disappeared, this was more than a worthy replacement.

The third generation of Mondea brought a completely new design language. | Photo: Ford
The third generation of Mondea brought a completely new design language. | Photo: Ford

In addition to the five-cylinder, there were also four-cylinder petrol engines with a volume of 1.6 to 2.3 liters, and 1.8, 2.0 and 2.2 TDCi turbodiesels, respectively. Diesel engines with a capacity of more than two liters were created in cooperation with PSA. A major innovation was the new control of the multimedia system via the buttons on the steering wheel, which was similar to a mobile phone. An on-board computer display also appeared among the alarms. The wheelbase stretched to 2.85 meters, with a length of 4.84 meters was the newest longest sedan, which surpassed the station wagon.

Modernization came to the fore in 2010, and while the exterior underwent only more or less slight changes, a draft took place under the hood. Both the five-cylinder and the 2.3-liter four-cylinder ended, and for the first time they were replaced by the supercharged 2.0 EcoBoost four-cylinder with an output of up to 176 kW. A weaker and problematic 1.6 EcoBoost also appeared, but atmospheric petrol engines also remained part of the offer.

Among the diesel engines, the two-liter TDCi played a leading role. However, there was also a smaller, but more problematic, sixteen hundred, or more powerful version of the 2.2 TDCi with an output of 147 kW. In both cases, again from cooperation with PSA. Gradually, the range of assistance systems also expanded, so Mondeo received a lane departure warning.

The third generation was not as strong in sales as its predecessors, so Ford changed its strategy for the fourth edition on the new platform. It was supposed to be a global car again, first the new Mondeo was shown in the USA at the beginning of 2012 under the name Fusion, its European premiere took place about half a year later in the autumn in Paris.

However, the car sales themselves did not begin until 2014. At the time of its launch, it was a two-year-old model, although still with a number of innovative solutions - for example, it had adaptive LED lights or an airbag in the rear seat belt. Production then moved from Genk, where Ford closed its factory, to Valencia, Spain. It was the complications associated with production that postponed the launch.

Gone were the atmospheric gasoline engines, a nearly 4.9-meter-long car with an axle wheelbase of 2.85 meters bet everything on supercharged 1.5 or 2.0 EcoBoost units with four cylinders. Soon after the premiere, the Mondeo even got on the market with a three-cylinder 1.0 EcoBoost, but this version struggled with significantly higher than stated consumption, moreover, its dynamics were not enough for such a large car. In 2018, the three-cylinder was dropped from the offer.

New design, but a two-year delay and a failed version with a liter three-cylinder. This is also the fourth Ford Mondeo. | Photo: Ford
New design, but a two-year delay and a failed version with a liter three-cylinder. This is also the fourth Ford Mondeo. | Photo: Ford

Unlike the first generation, diesel generators played a prime role in the fourth edition (petrol engines even fell out of the offer in the second half of 2019). First Duratorq TDCi, optionally with a pair of turbochargers, later from the new EcoBlue series. All-wheel drive could also be combined with the two-liter turbodiesel of both series, except for a short episode in the first generation, the existing Mondeo is the first with this option. In addition, a hybrid variant with a two-liter petrol engine with an output of 138 kW also appeared in the offer for the first time.

At present, the Mondeo is available on the Czech market with a liftback and station wagon body (the sedan is only available as a hybrid, for example in Germany) and 2.0 EcoBlue diesel units with an output of 110 or 140 kW, or as a station wagon in a hybrid variant. There are four equipment available, the highlight being the luxury Vignale model, with the liftback starting at 788,900 crowns and the station wagon at 818,900 crowns. In the highest version with all-wheel drive, however, the price will playfully exceed the limit of 1.2 million crowns.

As mentioned in the introduction, the fourth generation is the last that the Mondeo will experience. Customers are abandoning the classic mid-size segment in favour of SUVs, so Ford prefers to invest in them rather than Mondea's direct successor. The last piece should leave Spain at the end of March 2022. To date, five million cars with the name Mondeo have been sold.

It is certain that the words of the brand's representatives from 2013, when the middle-class model celebrated twenty years on the market, will not be filled. At that time, they wanted two more decades of successful sales. Little did they know that Mondee would be going downhill so fast.

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