From that point on, those within Ford who really did want to build decent cars began to get their way, and to everyone’s surprise the 1993 Mondeo was the first solid proof of their success. Its look was a bit styling-by- committee – years later, Ford admitted that this actually was the case – but its mechanical ingredients had been cooked with a deeply satisfying flourish. Satisfying not only for Ford, which collected numerous important gongs with the car, but for anyone who drove a Mondeo. It had smooth-revving engines, a total novelty for a Ford. It had clean, crisp steering, high precision handling and a finely judged ride. It was comfortable, its interior was intelligently planned, it was decently equipped and carried off multiple group test victories that often slayed a BMW.

The Mondeo didn’t sell like the Cortina did in Britain, but it sold vastly better in Europe. In the US, however, the Ford Contour and plusher Mercury Mystique reworks struggled, the cars too expensive for their size in this XXL market. In America, Ford’s car for the world strategy came undone.

That wasn’t enough to deter it from replacing the first Mondeo with a second that was even better. More confidently styled, more polished and more complete, it was far better value than a BMW or an Audi and almost as well finished. But Mondeo man, the shorthand political summation of a middle Englander, looked through this telescope from the other end. He could buy a sparsely equipped BMW for the price of a mid-range Mondeo, a slam-dunk in the driveway pay-grade parade.

Ford was not the only mainstream manufacturer losing this comparison to the shinier German brands, this ever- quickening decline of the so-called D-segment battalion of Mondeo, Vectra, Passat, Renault Laguna and Peugeot 406 dubbed “the flight to premium”.

Over the last 15 years there have been more mass flights, to crossovers and SUVs. The Nissan Qashqai, the Range Rover Evoque, the small German SUVs, the Korean crossovers – all have taken big bites out of the Mondeo’s market. Ford tripped up, too, by making the last Mondeo too big, for Europe at least, its North American equivalent – the Fusion – scaled to better suit the Interstate. Industrial troubles delayed the last Mondeo’s launch, too, further weakening its prospects.

So a golden comet fired in 1962 will extinguish after a 60-year flight, the Mondeo going off sale in 2022. It’s sad, but the market has changed, and Ford is changing with it. Still, what a run.


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