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Ford's Mondeo mule put to test

Mystery Mondeo: This Mondeo-like test mule was photographed inside a Ford test area in Michigan (picture courtesy of BlueOvalNews.com)

Ford is developing a larger Mondeo that may help it gain ascendancy in the medium sedan segment

1 Dec 1999

AN unofficial US Ford internet site - BlueOvalNews.com - has revealed scoop photos of a sedan that at first glance appears to be a prototype of the next generation Mondeo, due in 2001.

The car - photographed inside a Ford test area in Dearborn, Michigan - has overall proportions similar to the current Mondeo but features a Cougar-like front end.

A Ford source contacted by BlueOvalNews says the car is a test mule that mates the nose of a 1999 Cougar coupe to the body of a 1997 Mercury Contour, an American-built version of the Mondeo.

It is not an uncommon practice to test components for an upcoming model by installing them in an existing chassis. The vehicle in question may therefore be a testbed for new Cougar components.

But the next generation Mondeo is currently undergoing development and is expected to be unveiled at next September's Paris motor show.

It is likely go on sale here in early 2001.

Sales of the current Mondeo have slowed dramatically this year. It notched up just 903 sales until the end of October, compared with 2392 for the same period last year.

In a bid to drive more interest the Mondeo's way, Ford Australia will add the 2.5-litre, V6-powered ST24 Mondeo to the range midway through next year.

The new generation Mondeo - codenamed CD132 - will share its platform with Jaguar's compact X400 and Mazda's next generation Mazda 626.

Ford insiders have been quoted as saying the new car will regain its status as one of the best-handling vehicles in its segment.

Its wheelbase will be stretched by 60mm to enable the Mondeo to fill the void left by the demise of the larger Scorpio.

The increase in size may help the newcomer woo a few buyers from the Mercedes-Benz C-class and Audi A4 in Europe. Of course, this will not be the case in Australia where the Mondeo competes in a completely different price segment.

Externally, the new Mondeo is tipped to draw several styling cues from its smaller Focus sibling, blending curved surfaces with sharply edged geometric lines.

It is likely to feature Focus-derived angular headlights while its triangular tail-lights may be similar to those used on the Cougar coupe.

Engine choices in Europe will include 1.8, 2.0 and 2.3-litre four-cylinder engines as well as a 2.5-litre Duratec V6. But Australian-spec cars are likely to get only the 2.0 and 2.5-litre powerplants.

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