Ford has just launched a new car that is already two years old, as it has finally announced prices, specifications and, finally, an on-sale date for the fourth generation of Mondeo.
The Mondeo has effectively already been on sale in the US market since 2012 as the Fusion. We should have had the car at the end of 2013, but Ford's European sales crisis forced a change of plan. While the delay was initally fobbed off as an exercise in tweaking the build quality and equipment specs for Europe, it soon became clear that something more serious was at work. Ford, stung hard by the European recession and the collapse in car sales, was having to close its factory in Ghenk, Belgium which had been the home of the Mondeo since the first generation model in 1993.
Closing the factory and transfering production of the Mondeo (not to mention the S-Max and Galaxy) to Ford’s vast production facility in Valencia, Spain meant delays but it also gave Ford a convenient excuse to hold back launching what is still a hugely significant model while the car markets of Europe were still parlous.
Now, with a car sales recovery seemingly stable and on course, Ford has announced that the Mondeo will be physically here in November, and you can order one from your local Ford dealer now. Prices will for the moment start from €28,995. If that seems a touch steep, it is; the Mondeo will debut in its two top-tier specifications; Zetec and Titanium. You'll also only be able to buy a diesel engine for now, either the familiar 1.6-litre 115hp unit or an updated 2.0-litre engine that now comes with 150hp. Petrol engines will arrive next year and will include the tiny 1.0-litre three-cylinder EcoBoost engine in 125hp form, as well as a new 1.5-litre EcoBoost four-cylinder with 160hp and a 2.0-litre petrol hybrid boasting a 99g/km Co2 rating. There will also be a four-wheel-drive option for the diesel 2.0-litre.
In order to allow the Mondeo to compete with the premium German saloons and their temptingly affordable HP and PCP plans, the Mondeo will be stuffed with optional technology. There's a self-parking system that can get you into and out of parallel and nose-in spaces, a new SYNC infotainment system with an 8" touchscreen that can respond to conversational language (apparently if you tell it you're hungry it will get the sat-nav to call up the addresses of local restaurants...) and full LED headlights with adaptive technology. Ford is also claiming an industry-first with its Inflatable Rear Seatbelt technology which will make its European debut on the all-new Mondeo. In the event of an accident, the belt rapidly expands to disperse crash forces across a body area five times greater than that achieved by a conventional seatbelt.
What it apparently won’t have is new styling. There had been many rumours circulating that, so long had we had to wait for the Mondeo’s arrival, it would be facelifted (in concert with the Fusion) before it actually went on sale. That seems not to have happened, but with the time lag from the Fusion launch, a stylistic update for the Mondeo will surely come not very long after it goes on sale.
Whether it can resurrect, even partly, Ford's once unassailable position as the European saloon car champ is another matter. In 1997, Ford sold 322,000 Mondeos across Europe. Last year, that number fell to 50,000. By contrast, BMW sold 200,000 3 Series saloons, and all of those at a higher profit. While pairing the Mondeo with the US Fusion will help to make those paltry sums add up, the late-arriving Mondeo stands a pretty good chance of being one of the last of its kind.
In Ireland at least, things are a touch rosier for the Mondeo. Last year the 3 Series did indeed beat it in the sales charts, but in 2014, the outgoing Mondeo, propelled by some strong run-out deals, has hit back and currently has a 100-unit lead over its premium arch-rival.
“The all-new Mondeo is a significant new chapter for a car that has been one of Ireland’s favourite vehicles since it first arrived here more than 20 years ago,” said Eddie Murphy, Chairman and Managing Director, Ford Ireland. “All-new Mondeo will make high specification and premium features accessible to even more drivers – including our industry-first Inflatable Rear Seatbelt and Ford’s first LED headlights in Europe.”