Ford Mondeo (first generation)
|Ford Mondeo (first generation)|
|Manufacturer||Ford Motor Company|
|Also called||Ford Contour (North America)
Mercury Mystique (North America)
|Production||23 November 1992–31 August 1996 (pre-facelift)
1 September 1996 – 1 November 2000 (facelift)
Mexico: Cuautitlan, Estado de México
United States: Claycomo, Missouri
|Body and chassis|
|Class||Mid-size car (D)|
|Body style||4-door saloon
|Layout||Front engine, front-wheel-drive/all-wheel-drive|
|Platform||Ford CDW27 platform|
|Wheelbase||2,704 mm (106.5 in)|
|Length||4,481 mm (176.4 in) (1993 saloon, hatch)
4,631 mm (182.3 in) (1993 estate)
4,556 mm (179.4 in) (1996 saloon, hatch)
4,671 mm (183.9 in) (1996 estate)
|Width||1,747 mm (68.8 in) (1993 saloon, hatch)
1,745 mm (68.7 in) (1993 estate)
1,749 mm (68.9 in) (1996)
|Height||1,372 mm (54.0 in) (saloon, hatchback)
1,391 mm (54.8 in) (estate)
|Predecessor||Ford Sierra (Europe)
Ford Tempo/Mercury Topaz (North America)
Ford Telstar (Japan, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa)
|Successor||Ford Mondeo (second generation)
Ford Fusion (Americas)
The Ford Mondeo (first generation) is a mid-size car that was produced by Ford that launched on 23 November 1992, with sales beginning on 22 March 1993. It is also known as the Mk I Mondeo; the 1996 facelift versions are usually designated Mk II. Available as a four-door saloon, a five-door hatchback, and a five-door estate, all models for the European market were produced at Ford's plant in the Belgian city of Genk. In December 1992, Autocar published a section on the Mondeo, and how it would conquer rivals.
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 Ford Contour and Mercury Mystique replaced the Ford Tempo and Mercury Topaz in North America. Despite being billed as a world car, the only external items the Mondeo shared initially with the Contour were the windscreen, front windows, front mirrors and door handles. Thus, the CDW27 project turned out not to be a true world car in the sense that the original Ford Focus and newer Ford developed under the "One Ford" policy turned out to be—that being one design per segment for the world. The first generation Mondeo was replaced in 2000, by the larger second generation; in the United States and Canada, the Countour/Mystique were replaced by the Fusion and fourth-generation Taurus and fourth-generation Sable.
Design and development
Instigated in 1986 (just before its Sierra predecessor received a major facelift), the design of the car cost Ford US$6 billion. It was one of the most expensive new-car programmes ever. The Mondeo was significant as its design and marketing were shared between Ford USA in Dearborn and Ford of Europe. Its codename while under development reflected thus: CDW27 signified that it straddled the C and D size classes and was a "world car". The head of the Mondeo project was John Oldfield, headquartered at Ford Dunton in Essex.
A large proportion of the high development cost was due to the Mondeo being a completely new design, sharing very little, if anything, with the Ford Sierra. Unlike the Sierra, the Mondeo is front-wheel drive in its most common form, with a rarer four-wheel drive version available on the Mk I car only. Over-optimistically, the floor pan was designed to accept virtually any conceivable drivetrain, from a transverse four to a longitudinal V-8. This resulted in a hugely obtrusive and mostly disused bellhousing cover and transmission tunnel. The resulting interior front of the car, especially the footwells, feel far more cramped than would be expected from a vehicle of this size. The Mondeo featured new manual and automatic transmissions and sophisticated suspension design, which give it class-leading handling and ride qualities, and subframes front and rear to give it executive car refinement. The automatic transmission featured electronic control with sport and economy modes plus switchable overdrive. The program manager from 1988, and throughout its early development, was David Price.
By 1989, Ford had confirmed that it would be launching an all-new front-wheel drive car to replace the Sierra within the next four years, although it had not yet decided whether the Sierra name would continue or be replaced, with some subsequent reports even hinting that the Cortina name could make a comeback, having being axed in 1982 when replaced by the Sierra. Several prototypes were tested that year, but the launch of the Nissan Primera in 1990 prompted Ford to made a number of major alterations to the final product, as it saw the new competitor from Nissan to be the benchmark car in this sector, having previously identified the Honda Accord as the class leader.
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 fifth-generation Escort and third-generation 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 substandard 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 European and Japanese 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.
It was finally unveiled to the public on 23 November 1992, although sales would not begin for another four months. Only at this stage had Ford confirmed that the new car would feature a completely new name, with press reports frequently referring to the "new Sierra", which would soon be on sale until the announcement that the new car would be called the Mondeo.
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 European Car of the Year title for 1994), side-impact bars, seat belt pretensioners, and antilock braking systems (higher models) as standard features. Other features for its year included adaptive damping, self-leveling suspension (top estate 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, illuminated entry, flat-folding rear seats, etc. Higher-specification models had leather seats, trip computers, electric sunroof, CD changer, and alloy wheels.
During its development, Ford used the 1986 Honda Accord and in the later stages the 1990 Nissan Primera as the class benchmarks that the CDW27 had to beat.
Mk II (facelift)
The Mondeo facelift, launched in October 1996, had three of the original Mondeo's biggest criticisms addressed: its bland styling, the poor headlight performance, the reflectors of which quickly yellowed, and the cramped rear legroom. The lowering of specification levels around that time (e.g. air conditioning and alloy wheels became optional on the UK Ghia models) may have indicated a desire by Ford to cut costs and recoup some of the considerable sums invested in the original design. These specification levels were improved again in 1998 as the Mondeo approached replacement.
The facelift left only the doors, the roof, and the rear quarter panels on the estate the same as the original 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 the grille and larger, wraparound lighting units. 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 Mk IV Fiesta during the previous year, this facelift was well received.
The interior was also mildly revised, though the basic dashboard architecture was the same as before. Safety specification was improved, with the car gaining a full-sized driver airbag in place of the smaller 'euro-bag' fitted in the Mk I Mondeo. The Mk II gained a 'flagged' three-star rating in EuroNCAP testing, which was average for rivals of its time (the same as the Vauxhall Vectra, better than the Citroën Xantia and Peugeot 406, and worse than the Nissan Primera). The cars' structure suffered excessive footwell intrusion in the frontal impact and a disturbing B-pillar displacement in the side test.
The Zetec engine was thoroughly revised in 1998. The updated version was far more refined at high revolutions, addressing a common criticism of it.
In December 1998, Ford released in Europe a sports car with a coupé body shell based upon the Mk II Mondeo called the Ford Cougar (or Mercury Cougar in North America). This car shared the engines (2.0 I4, 2.5 V6), transmissions, suspension (partially) and floorpans from the Mondeo, but the body shell was unique to the Cougar, and was one of the last Ford cars to be designed under Ford's New Edge philosophy.
Three versions of the 16-valve Zetec engine were used. The 1.6 L version (rated at 90 metric horsepower (66 kW)) from the Escort was used, a 1.8 (115 metric horsepower (85 kW)) also found in the Escort and Ford Fiesta (105 and 130 metric horsepower (77 and 96 kW)), while a new 136 metric horsepower (100 kW) 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. Strangely, the diesel-powered vehicles could easily be distinguished by dint of their having a slightly redesigned grille.
A less popular engine (for the UK and Ireland) was introduced in 1994 in the form of the 170 metric horsepower (130 kW) 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 poor, the automatic even worse than the manual (and far less reliable). This engine was originally branded 24v, but later on sold as the more glamorous sounding V6.
This engine was also used to introduce the new "ST" brand to the Mondeo range as a flagship model (with less specification than a Ghia or a Ghia X), the ST24 in 1997. The power of the engine stayed at 170 PS (130 kW), the same as other 2.5 L-engined models (so was slower than a Mk I 24v), but the ST featured unique cabin trim (half-leather seats), unique 16-inch alloy wheels (that were originally only available on a Ghia X Estate), and a full Rally Sport Appearance Pack body kit as standard. The bodykit option was listed as a delete option for those who did not want it fitted as standard. This was later replaced by the Limited Edition ST200 in 1999, featuring an SVT version of the V6 Duratec with a power output of 200 PS (150 kW).
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.
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.
|Model||Years||Engine and type||Displ.||Power||Torque|
|1.6||1993–1999||I4 16V||Zetec||1597 cc||66 kW (90 PS; 89 hp) @ 5250 rpm||135 N⋅m (100 ft⋅lbf) @ 3500 rpm|
|1.6||1999–2000||I4 16V||Zetec||1597 cc||70 kW (95 PS; 94 hp) @ 5250 rpm||142 N⋅m (105 ft⋅lbf) @ 3600 rpm|
|1.8||1993–2000||I4 16V||Zetec||1796 cc||85 kW (116 PS; 114 hp) @ 5750 rpm||158 N⋅m (117 ft⋅lbf) @ 3750 rpm|
|2.0||1993–1996||I4 16V||Zetec||1988 cc||100 kW (136 PS; 134 hp) @ 6000 rpm||175 N⋅m (129 ft⋅lbf) @ 4000 rpm|
|2.0||1996–2000||I4 16V||Zetec||1988 cc||96 kW (131 PS; 129 hp) @ 5600 rpm||178 N⋅m (131 ft⋅lbf) @ 4000 rpm|
|2.0 4x4||1993–1996||I4 16V||Zetec||1988 cc||97 kW (132 PS; 130 hp) @ 6000 rpm||175 N⋅m (129 ft⋅lbf) @ 4000 rpm|
|2.5||1994–1998||V6 24V||Duratec||2544 cc||130 kW (177 PS; 174 hp) @ 6250 rpm||220 N⋅m (162 ft⋅lbf) @ 4250 rpm|
|2.5||1998–2000||V6 24V||Duratec||2495 cc||130 kW (177 PS; 174 hp) @ 6250 rpm||220 N⋅m (162 ft⋅lbf) @ 4250 rpm|
|2.5 ST200||1999–2000||V6 24V||Duratec||2495 cc||151 kW (205 PS; 202 hp) @ 6500 rpm||235 N⋅m (173 ft⋅lbf) @ 5500 rpm|
|1.8 TD||1993–2000||I4 8V||Endura-D||1753 cc||66 kW (90 PS; 89 hp) @ 4500 rpm||177 N⋅m (131 ft⋅lbf) @ 2250 rpm|
The 1992–1996 range had the following trim levels:
- UK market
- Base – 1.6L Zetec, 1.8 L turbodiesel, base trim level, 4-door saloon, 5-door hatchback, estate (replaced by Aspen in 1995)
- Aspen – 1.6 L Zetec, 1.8 L turbodiesel, base trim level, 5-door hatchback, estate
- LX – 1.6 L/1.8 L/2.0 L Zetec, 1.8 L turbodiesel, midrange trim level, 4-door saloon, 5-door hatchback, estate
- GLX – 1.6 L/1.8 L/2.0 L Zetec, 1.8 L turbodiesel, luxury trim level version of the LX, 4-door saloon, 5-door hatchback, estate
- 24v – 2.5L Duratec V6, 4-door saloon, 5-door hatchback, estate (1994–1995 only)
- Si – 2.0 L 4-cylinder, 2.5 L Duratec V6, sports version, 4-door saloon, 5-door hatchback, estate, optional 4x4 on 2.0L Zetec
- Ghia – 1.8 L/2.0 L Zetec, 2.5 L Duratec V6, 1.8 L turbodiesel, midrange trim level, 4-door saloon, 5-door hatchback, estate, optional 4x4 on 2.0L Zetec
- Ghia X – 2.0L Zetec, 2.5 L Duratec V6, 1.8L turbodiesel, luxury trim level, 4-door saloon, 5-door hatchback, 5-door estate (from 1995), optional 4x4 on 2.0L Zetec
Additional trim levels in other European markets included:
- Mirage – 1.6 L Zetec, base trim level, 4-door saloon, 5-door hatchback, estate – only offered in the Netherlands
- CLX – 1.6 L/1.8 L/2.0 L Zetec, 1.8 L turbodiesel, midrange trim level, 4-door saloon, 5-door hatchback, estate – not offered in the UK
- Verona – 1.8 L, midrange trim level, 4-door saloon, 5-door hatchback
- GLX – 1.6 L/1.8 L/2.0 L Zetec, 1.8 L turbodiesel, luxury trim level version of the CLX, 4-door saloon, 5-door hatchback, estate
- Business Edition – 1.6 L/1.8 L/2.0 L 4-cylinder, 2.5 L V6, 1.8 L turbodiesel, luxury trim level version of LX, 4-door saloon, 5-door hatchback, estate. – only offered in the Netherlands
- GT – 1.8 L/2.0 L 4-cylinder, 2.5 L V6, 1.8 L turbodiesel, sports version, 4-door saloon, 5-door hatchback, estate. Only offered in the Netherlands, equivalent to UK-spec Si
- V6 – 2.5 L V6, luxury version, 4-door saloon, 5-door hatchback, estate. Never offered with a V6 (base) in the Netherlands, only Business Edition or GT.
The 1996–2000 range had the following trim levels:
- Aspen – 1.6 L Zetec, 1.8 L TD Endura, base trim level, 5dr, Estate
- LX – 1.6/1.8/2.0 L Zetec, 1.8 L TD Endura, midrange trim level, 4dr, 5dr, Estate
- Verona – 1.8 L Zetec, midrange trim level, 5dr
- GLX – 1.8/2.0 L Zetec, 1.8 L TD Endura, midrange trim level, 4dr, 5dr, Estate
- Si – 2.0 L Zetec, 2.5 L V6 170 PS, sports version, 4dr, 5dr, Estate
- Zetec – 1.8/2.0 L Zetec, replaced Si, 5dr, Estate
- Zetec-S – 2.0 L Zetec, rare Zetec based special edition with ST bodykit, 5dr
- Ghia – 2.0 L Zetec, 2.5 L V6 170 PS, 1.8 L TD Endura, luxury trim level
- Ghia X – 2.0 L Zetec, 2.5 L V6 170 PS, 1.8 L TD Endura, top spec trim level
- ST24 – 2.5 L V6 170 PS, Sports Variant Luxury bucket seat half leather trim, sports-suspension, RSAP Kit
- ST200 – 2.5 L V6 205 PS, Sports Variant, Luxury Recaro leather trim, 17" alloys, tuned engine & suspension, RSAP Kit, digital Climate Control
The facelifted Mk II Mondeo sports variants included the ST24 and the ST200. The ST24 produced 170 bhp (130 kW) from its 2.5-litre V6 24v engine and was launched with Rally Sport Appearance Pack body kits, along with sports suspension and half-leather sports bucket seats. Its standard setup had the ST24 from standstill to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 8.0 seconds, coupled with a maximum speed of 148 mph (238 km/h). North America got an SE "Sport" Version of the Contour, which featured exclusive wheels and the coveted 9-inch Sport Drum rear brakes. Rear disc brakes eventually became available in North America on certain Contour and Mystique models, although some customers bemoaned the reduced level of feel over the original sport drums.
The ST200 was then launched as the Enthusiast's car, with a tuned 2.5-litre V6 24v engine producing 202 bhp (151 kW). This engine made the ST200 go from standing to 60 mph (97 km/h) in around 7.7 seconds, and reach a maximum speed of 151 mph (243 km/h). Tuning included a different throttle body, cams, flywheel, and upper manifold, to name a few. This version of the Mondeo also had even harder sports suspension than the ST24, and came with half-leather Recaro sports bucket seats, full leather was available as a cost option. The ST200 was released to the public in Imperial Blue colour, Moondust Silver, and a very limited number in white (mainly for use by the police). The North American counterpart to this model was known as the Contour SVT.
In South Africa, the trim levels offered were:
- LX – 1.8 L Zetec, midrange trim level, 4-door saloon
- CLX – 2.0 L Zetec, midrange trim level, 4-door saloon
- 2.0 Aspen – 2.0 L Zetec, luxury trim level version of the LX, 4-door saloon
- Si – 2.5 L V6, sports version, 5-door hatchback
In Brazil, the trim levels offered were:
- CLX – 1.8 L Zetec, standard trim level, 4-door saloon, 5-door hatchback, and 5-door station wagon.
- GLX – 2.0 L Zetec, midrange trim level, 4-door saloon and 5-door hatchback, and 5-door station wagon.
- Ghia – 2.5 L V6 Duratec HE, Luxury&Sport trim level version, only was 4-door saloon.
Ford Contour and Mercury Mystique
The Ford Contour and its sister the Mercury Mystique were the North American versions of the mid-sized Ford Mondeo sedan produced between 1994 and 2000. The Contour and Mystique replaced the Ford Tempo and Mercury Topaz. They were introduced in September 1994 as 1995 models, with production having commenced in Mexico on 15 August. Development of the first-generation European Mondeo and its derivatives, the Contour and Mystique, was a major project for the Ford Motor Company. While the Mondeo has been afforded three body styles (four-door sedan, five-door liftback, and a station wagon), the North American variants were developed as sedans only. The interior was slightly different, though the Ford Focus was more successful as "one design for the world". Although the cars ended up slightly larger than the Tempo and Topaz, and the Mondeo was marketed as a large family car in Europe, reviewers judged the car too small for American tastes compared to Japanese product lines where Toyota's Camry was their next size up from compact cars, and the Taurus/Sable was the direct market segment competitor for the Camry.
Initially, three trim levels were available for the Contour, a base GL (available until 1998), a more luxurious LX, and a sporty SE trim. A 125 hp (93 kW), 2.0 L Zetec inline four-cylinder engine was standard on the GL and LX models, while a 170 hp 2.5 L Duratec V6 was standard on SE models and optional on the GL and LX models. A five-speed manual transmission was standard on all models, with a four-speed automatic as an option. However, in April 1996, Ford produced a "Sport" model in both the 2.0 L four-cylinder and 2.5 L V6. The "Sport" model was an option in both SE and GL series. It was marketed as a car for a serious driver who wants an economical car.
Both the Contour and Mystique were praised for their handling and ride quality, and were even dubbed "A fun four-door sedan that offered European moves at American prices" in an Edmunds review. The Contour and Mystique were on Car and Driver magazine's Ten Best list for 1995, 1996 and 1997. Although Car and Driver staff wrote an article in 2009 apologizing for the inclusion of the Ford Contour on the "Ten Best" list, it was the only car the staff did not outright recant from the list, but did cite that, in hindsight, the car should have been considered too small for its price range to properly meet criteria, and that this is the likely reason for the car's failure to achieve widespread appeal. The Contour was also named as an Automobile magazine All Star for 1995, 1996, 1997, and 1998. For the SVT trim, Edmunds.com named the Contour SVT the most wanted sedan under $25,000 for the year of 1999.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Contour a "Poor" overall rating in the frontal impact crash. The head, neck, and chest were all well protected and the dummy movement was well controlled, but excessive footwell intrusion contributed to high forces on both legs and a "Marginal" structural rating. The Contour received five stars for both the driver and passenger in the NHTSA test.
In early 1997 for 1998, Ford restyled the Contour and Mystique. The restyle was based on the facelifted Mondeo which had been launched in Europe two years earlier. The front clip and doors are shared with the Mondeo, whereas the rear end received restyled quarter panels and lighting. Ford also added an SVT version for the Contour, which used a specially tuned and modified version of the 2.5 L V6 that produced 195 hp (145 kW)(1998 MY) / 200 hp (149 kW) (1999/2000 MY) and was only available with a five-speed manual transmission. Also included with the SVT Contour was new bodywork, seats and trim, white-faced gauges, larger wheels with ultra-high performance tires, upgraded brakes, and a retuned suspension. The Contour SVT was available primarily by special order by specially designated Ford dealerships.
The SVT Contour was a modified version of the Ford Contour sedan from Ford's in-house Special Vehicle Team. The SVT Contour was produced from 1998MY through 2000MY, with a mid-year revision for 1998.5. All Ford Contours were produced at the Ford Kansas City Assembly Plant in Claycomo, Missouri, just outside Kansas City, Missouri.
|1998||2.5 L Duratec 25 SVT V6||195 hp (145 kW)||165 ft·lbf (224 N·m)||4,485|
|1999||200 hp (149 kW)||169 ft·lbf (229 N·m)||2,760|
- 2.0 L Zetec I4 125 hp (97 kW)
- 2.5 L Duratec 25 V6 170 hp (125 kW)
- 2.5 L Duratec 25 V6 195 hp (145 kW) (1998 SVT)
- 2.5 L Duratec 25 V6 200 hp (149 kW) (1999 and 2000 SVT)
Model year changes
- The backs of the front seats were recessed, improving rear seat leg room.
- Rear seat cushions were repositioned to increase room.
- Chrome bumper strips were dropped, resulting in bumpers that were monochromatic.
- Seven-spoke alloy wheels become standard for SE model.
- Split rear seats now available on all models.
- The powertrain control module was changed to the newer EEC-V to be OBD-II compliant.
- Manual transmission was reworked for easier shifts.
- New value-priced base models were introduced in late 1997 for both Contour and Mystique.
- Traction control is dropped as an option.
- Added interior trunk light
- Steering wheels now tilt
- Heated mirrors are dropped as an option.
- "Unleaded fuel only" label was removed from the fuel gauge.
- Various interior plastic pieces and covers on the Contour are no longer spray-painted silver and are left black.
- Remote fuel door release is dropped.
- Mystique – optional CD player and power front seats on GS, standard on LS
- New design for front and rear fascias, including a chrome grille surround and larger headlights; Mystique gets side Mercury emblems on the rear quarter windows.
- Mystique's interior also received new fabric choices (leather seating, previously optional, became standard on LS models) and faux wood trim to make it more upscale than the Contour.
- Five-speed manual transmission changed from rod shift to cable shift.
- High-performance Contour SVT version debuts, available only in Silver Frost, Toreador Red, and Black Ebony with Midnight Blue interior.
- Roof line altered and the rear deck shortened for improved rear seat headroom
- Seat recliner is changed from a knob to a lever.
- Seatbelt for rear center seat is improved from two-point to three-point.
- New center consoles; pop-up cup holders are replaced and are now molded into the console.
- Glove box light, underhood light, lighted sun visors, and door handle lights are removed.
- Integrated rear child-safety seats are optional on the Mystique.
- Warning lights on the instrument cluster were relocated to different spots. Moldings stayed the same.
- The red empty marker on the fuel gauge was left white.
- Less forceful "second-generation" airbags were made standard.
In mid-production for the 1998 model (manufactured after February 1998), Ford decided to make several more changes to the SVT Contour. This resulted in a noticeable distinction between early and late 1998 SVT Contours. To differentiate between the two, the late 1998 model is sometimes referred to as the "1998.5", or alternatively the early 1998 model as the "E0" and the late 1998 model as the "E1". The mid-year changes are as listed below.
- Split rear seats are now available only on the SE model.
- In-dash clock is relocated to the stereo head unit display.
- New Cobra-style SVT aluminum alloy wheels
- SVT-specific Goodyear Eagle F1 tires replace Goodyear GS-C tires. The 205/55-16 size is retained.
- Different strut valving and tires raised skid pad numbers from .84 to .90 G.
- The word "normal" was removed from the temperature gauge. "C" for cool and "H" for hot were added.
- All models are equipped with a slightly larger fuel tank at 15.4 gallons.
- A slight change was made in dash design. The plastic piece around front window was eliminated.
- Seats were again altered for additional rear leg room.
- The 2.0 L I4 engine received an additional 5 hp
- Contour SVT engine rating was upped 5 hp to 200 hp due to additional abrasive flow machining of the primary and secondary intake ports.
- SVT is offered in Tropic Green.
- SVT gains tan leather interior for Tropic Green and Toreador Red, and optional on Black Ebony cars.
- SVT gets new BF Goodrich KDW tires. Size changes to 215/50-16.
- Revised transmission synchronizers addressed an issue in the 1998 SVT.
- Mystique's suspension was tuned for a softer ride.
- Displacement on the Duratec V6 engine decreased slightly, but the compression ratio waas increased to compensate. This was done to keep the engine used in Mazda vehicles to maintain a lower engine displacement based tax level in Japan.
- Four-cylinder Contour models continued as fleet vehicles only.
- Mystique GS and LS models returned with emergency in-trunk releases. Mercury pulled the Mystique from its lineup early in the 2000 model year. Production ended for the Mystique on December 23, 1999, but Contour production continued into late fall of 2000 to support rental fleets.
- The last Ford Contour rolled off the assembly line on October 19, 2000.
- Contour was replaced by the larger, redesigned Ford Taurus.
In Europe, the Mondeo was instantly declared a class leader. It was elected Car of the Year in 1994, ahead of PSA's new Xantia model. The facelifted Mondeo was initially popular, being Britain's third-best selling new car in 1996 through to 1998. However, in 1999 it dipped into sixth place and had been outsold by its biggest rival, the Vauxhall Vectra.
However, the Contour/Mondeo struggled to compete in North America and Australia. In the United States and Canada, the Contour suffered from market incompatibility with the preceding Ford Tempo, which by the end of its production run was an outdated design from the mid-1980s which sold primarily on its low price to lower-end customers and fleets. In contrast, the Contour was significantly more expensive as Ford hoped to sell it on its redeeming qualities, instead; a base model Contour was several hundred dollars more expensive than a loaded Tempo LX, pricing it out of the market for prospective and returning Tempo customers. Customers in the Contour's price range were instead drawn to the Taurus which was larger and offered better value for money; large factory incentives on the outgoing Taurus throughout 1995 in anticipation of a completely redesigned model due to launch later that year helped the Taurus cut into the Contour's initial market. The redesigned Taurus then replaced the Contour after 2000.
Anticipating this, Ford moved the Taurus upmarket with the release of the redesigned 1996 model, but poor customer reception to the new model's design and high price forced Ford to heavily discount it and continuously reduce its base price through its life, reviving the in-showroom competition between the two models. Additionally, the Contour was hurt by strong competition in the medium segment by the other American automakers. The similarly priced Chrysler Cirrus, which was concurrently launched by the Chrysler Corporation for the 1995 model year, matched the Contour in design, performance and driving dynamics, but had more features and a larger interior. The 1996 launch of the lower-priced Chevrolet Malibu by General Motors further cut into Contour sales. The Mondeo faced similar issues in Australia, as it was hampered by stiff competition from Japanese competitors in an already limited medium-sized market while its high price drove prospective customers to the larger and better equipped Ford Falcon. Heavy fleet sales of the Taurus and Falcon, which led to a large volume of low-mileage, low-priced one- and two-year-old examples saturating the used vehicle market was also a factor in making the Contour/Mondeo a tough sell to respective American and Australian consumers.
However, another theory was advanced by some motoring journalists; because the Mondeo was developed in Europe with limited input from Ford's North American and Australian operations, executives at both operations were unenthusiastic about the car and had no qualms about letting it fail in the marketplace to allow for the continued success of their locally developed models. Ford withdrew the Mondeo and exited the medium-sized markets in both continents in 2000, not to return until the 2005 launch of the Fusion in North America and the 2007 return of the Mondeo in Australia. The Mondeo returned to North America in 2012 as the redesigned 2013 Fusion as part of the "One Ford" business plan. The redesigned Mondeos, due to their larger size, better prices, increased development input from Australian and American customers, and changing market demographics, proved successful in both continents.
The Mondeo was released in Australia in 1995, but was not a sales success, where, similarly, a much larger local model, the Falcon, was available, and was dropped in 2000. Ford Australia withdrew completely from the medium-sized segment of the Australian market, arguing that it was in decline. The estate 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 midsized 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 returned to Australia in 2007 with an all-new model.
In Australia, the 1995 to 2000 Ford Mondeos were assessed in the Used Car Safety Ratings 2006 as providing "significantly better than average" protection for their occupants in the event of a crash.
The Mondeo launched in New Zealand to replace the Mazda 626-based Telstar following the closure of the Ford New Zealand assembly plant in 1997. Many earlier-model Mondeos, imported used from Japan, were also sold locally.
In 1997, the Mondeo was introduced into South Africa as a replacement for the Ford Telstar. It was produced locally at their Silverton plant in 1.8-litre and 2.0-litre saloon models. As production was limited to one body style, Estate (2.0-litre) Hatchback (2.5-litre V6) models were imported alongside the saloon models. The Mondeo was one of the first mainstream cars in South Africa to introduce airbags as standard equipment. Saloon sales were never a major success – fairly radical styling being cited as the main problem by a still conservative vehicle market. Styling was partly addressed by an Aspen model, which featured 15-inch alloy wheels, front fog lamps, and full leather trim.
In Taiwan, Ford Lio Ho produced a version of the Mondeo known as the Mondeo M2000, which had a front end similar to the outgoing Mercury Mystique, but with Ford badges. Its rear end was identical to that of the European models. This model was also exported to China.
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Ford Australia automobile timeline, 1980s–present
|Full-size||Falcon / Fairmont||Falcon / Fairmont||Falcon / Fairmont||Falcon|
|Fairlane / LTD||Fairlane / LTD||Fairlane / LTD|
|Falcon Ute||Falcon Ute||Falcon Ute|
|Full-size||LTD||LTD Crown Victoria||Crown Victoria||Crown Victoria|
|Country Squire||Five Hundred / Taurus||Taurus|
|Sport compact||EXP||EXP||Probe||Probe||Escort ZX2||ZX2||Fiesta ST|