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Future Classic Friday: Ford Mondeo Mk1

Published 22 September 2017

Ford's original Mondeo was the Blue Oval's first real 'world car' - a precursor, if you like, to the 'One Ford' image it tries to puvey today, where the same range of cars are sold in almost every global market.

The Mondeo was revealed to the world in November 1992, and went on sale shortly afterwards, replacing the mechanically conventional Sierra in European markets, the Ford Tempo in the USA and the Mazda 626-based Telstar in Australasian markets.

Available as a five-door hatchback, four-door saloon or impressively spacious estate, the Mondeo was clearly a well thought out addition to the large famiy car market, and an unsurprising hit with fleet managers. But to Ford, it was much, much more than that.

Thanks to a $6 billion new car development programme - one of the most expensive ever - almost every component of the Mondeo was new. It came with a fresh range of 'Zeta' four-cylinder engines, for example, along with a direct injection turbo diesel and a 24v V6.

Ford Mondeo Mk 1 (2)

The styling was clean and modern, if a little bland, while the cabin was very much aligned with tastes of the 1990s, with lots of swooping curves and a steeply raked windscreen resulting in a vast dashboard. It also came with a number of convenience features for the aspiring sales manager, including a shaped pen holder alongside the handbrake - a neat touch.

But by far the Mondeo's biggest trump card was the way it drove. Even in lower-mid-level rep's spec 1.8LX format, the Mondeo had a truly terrific chassis - something that, up to this point, Ford didn't really have in its armoury.  

Evidently, a large chunk of the development money had been spent on making the Mondeo a terrific car to drive, with excellent handling, grip and ride comfort. In the UK, it instantly knocked the Vauxhall Cavalier off its perch as the benchmark driver's car in the class - and by quite some margin. 

The new engines were decent, too, with lively performance and much greater high-speed refinement than those found in the Sierra. Ford, then, had finally listened to its customers. And the result was worth waiting for - the Mondeo was an instant success.

Ford Mondeo Mk 1 (4)

That didn't stop the Blue Oval developing it further, though. Less than four years after its debut, the Mondeo Mk1 facelift appeared (often referred to as the Mk2, or by crueller types as the 'Dame Edna', thanks to the design of its headlamps).

The idea here was to answer criticisms from some quarters of the original Mondeo, as well as to prepare the world for Ford's 'New Edge' styling, which would soon be previewed with the Ka. There were trim improvements, too, with a less shiny dashboard and new seat fabrics.

A quarter of a century on, it's easy to forget the impact that the Mondeo made when it first hit the road. Yet it was, and still is, a highly competent car. It's also a car that completely transformed Ford's reputation from being a manufacturer of dull-but-dutiful, functional transport, to a company that - to this day - is renowned for building some of the best handling chassis in the world.

The Mondeo may have never quite reached the global aspirations that FoMoCo had for it, but the car was a genuine game-changer.

Comments

eukiwi    on 22 September 2017

I can remember my mum getting a Mk1 facelift Mondeo. It was one of the new generation of turbodiesels and whilst it had epic lag, man did it go. It was a fantastic car to drive.

I was in my home country of New Zealand at that point and I remember her and my dad driving up to visit me in Auckland and, of course, insisting I drive them everywhere as a local. The centre of Auckland has a LOT of hills, and so you can imagine with the 1-2s turbo lag it was a bit tricky... got used to it soon enough though :)

azz123    on 13 March 2018

In Australasia the Mk1 Mondeo was never sold officially. The Telstar was only replaced when the Mk2 Mondeo arrived in 1997. The Mondeo was a balanced ride and could out handle the Telstar for sure. Though in nearly every other way it was a backward step for Ford and it cost them in a market segment dominated by Japanese vehicles. It ended up really only competing with the Holden (Opel) Vectra.

Both 90's Telstars and Mondeos are a common sight on New Zealand roads however the latter have not aged nearly as well. The Mk3 Mondeo seems to be following the same trend.

Matthew Dawood Khaghani    on 27 July 2018

Matthew Dawood Khaghani

I had a mk1 mondeo, it was a very good car. A harder ride than the cavalier, and noisier at speed, but much better in the bends. The Ghia was the one to have, better seats, especially in the back and more sound insulation.

Hugh Brazier    on 23 September 2018

I still have a Mondeo Mk1

It is a fantastic car now with 170k on clock yet still uber reliable

The car is fantastic to drive, comfortable and easy to,service and maintain

Without doubt one of the best cars I have ever owned

In fact I intend when it's bodywork finally degrades, to fully restore it as it's such a remarkable machine !

The vehicle has factory sunroof too which is most welcome on sunny days .

Shame the later models seemed to loose their look and appeal but the Mk1 has that special balance of style and aerodynamics.

Still amazed how slippery it is and it can coast for miles downhill adding additional fuel savings due to low frontal area.

cuntservative    on 21 November 2018

I wonder if they will follow suit like the Sierra has and increase in value massively it seems crazy that the Sierras that were throw away towards the end of their production your £250 cheapy car in the early noughties are now even for complete wrecks commanding high prices here in the UK . I wonder if the early Mondeos will if stuck in the garage for ten years will do the same ?

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