The Evolution of the Ford Mondeo

15th Oct 2014

The Ford Mondeo has come a long way since its launch in 1992. From humble beginnings the car is now fit for all purposes, whether you're a family man or a business man the Mondeo is up to the job.

Ford have sold over 4.5 million Mondeos around the world, and in this article, we'll take a look back through the history of Mondeo and guide you through the different marques and versions, its triumphs in motorsport and see what we can look forward to in the future, with the release of an all-new Mondeo.


Mk I Mondeo 1993-1996


The first ever Mondeo was produced.


The first Mondeo went on sale in the UK into replace the aging Ford Sierra, which had been around for 11 years - a long time in the automobile world.

It shared very few parts with the Sierra and one of the most radical changes was the switch from rear-wheel-drive to front-wheel-drive. Some online articles state that the model was in development for 6 years prior to launch, costing over £3 billion to produce and at the time was one of the most expensively developed cars ever made. That's a whole lot of cash and luckily for Ford, it's paid off in the long-term.

When it was launched, the Mk I Mondeo was available in CLX, GLX, Si and of course Ghia trim levels, with Ghia coming fitted out with trademark 'wood' trim on the centre console. Optional extras were basically a list of everything we take for granted in a modern Mondeo, including air conditioning, side airbags, traction control, passenger airbag, a trip computer and cruise control. Higher spec models got leather seats, a CD changer, an electric sunroof and alloy wheels as standard. Mondeos also featured the heated front windscreen called Quickclear, something which first appeared in 1985 on the Ford Granada and is a feature still enjoyed by drivers of modern Fords. Both manual and automatic versions were available, and the automatic came with a an electronic switch that enabled the driver to choose either 'Economy' or 'Sport' mode, which was a bit of a novelty at the time.


Mondeo wins the coveted European car of the Year award, beating the Citroen Xantia and Mercedes-Benz C-Class into second and third place respectively. It won favour with the judges thanks to 'sleek looks', excellent handling, reasonable prices and a strong, efficient engine range.

Safety was important, and the introduction of ABS on top of a driver's airbag as a standard feature quickly became replicated by competitor cars from across the family hatchback sector. The driver's airbag was standard-fit across all models, which was a first for a mass-produced car over here. 

At the time, Ford were getting some stick from the motoring press about dodgy handling in a few of their models, such as the 5th generation Escort and the Orion. The Mondeo was different however, with a sophisticated suspension design resulting in class-leading road-holding and steering. Even Jeremy Clarkson was impressed, saying that it 'seems to be a good car' and that it was 'probably best in class'.

Despite a (not entirely successful) publicity stunt involving driving a Mondeo from London to New York via the Bering Strait, it wasn't a success in America (where it was called the contour) at all, but in Europe, buyers were queuing up to take advantage of this game-changing model.

Ford Mondeo

Mk II Mondeo 1996-2000

The first-generation Mondeo was facelifted in 1996, and although it shared most of the mechanical components of the pre-facelift version, it is widely referred to as the Mk II, such is the difference in appearance. It had re-designed bumpers both front and rear, new headlight and taillight clusters, new wings and a new bonnet. No longer could the Mondeo's styling be labelled as bland, and the headlights performed much better overall.

It was the first Mondeo to feature satellite navigation, though it was a costly option and it was simply a directional arrow showing on a monotone LCD screen. Pretty terrible by today's standards, but back then it really was state-of-the-art. Safety improved again in 1997, with the introduction of side impact beams, three-point seatbelts, headrests and a larger driver's airbag enabling it to achieve a 3-star Euro NCAP safety rating, in line with the Vauxhall Vectra at the time. The Mk II Mondeo was also named as one of the Top 10 Most Reliable Cars in Britain in 1997, and in 1998 was the best-selling family car in Britain.

As well as safety improvements, 1997 saw the introduction of a performance focused ST24 model that was fitted with a 2.5-litre Duratec V6 engine, putting out 170bhp and powering the car from 0-62mph in just 8.0s, very quick for a family hatchback at the time. Rated at 29mpg it wasn't the most economical car in the world, but it was still manageable if you had children and still wanted something with a bit more poke.

Ford Mondeo

Mondeo in Motorsport

The Mk I and MK II Mondeos saw varying levels of success in motorsport, and competed in the British Touring Car Championship from 1993 to 2000. Some famous names took to the track in a Mondeo, including former F1 World Champion Nigel Mansell, who famously and spectacularly crashed out at Donington in 1994.

Ford Team Mondeo had to wait until its last year of competition, the year 2000, for its first and only triumph in the BTCC, winning the championship in a car driven by touring car legend Alain Menu. The team dominated the whole series, and completed a 1-2-3 with drivers Anthony Reid and Rickard Rydell coming in 2nd and 3rd place respectively.

Ford Mondeo

Mondeo Mk III 2000-2007

The Mk III Mondeo was launched in 2000 after a discontinuation of the Mk II, and was quickly recognised as one of the best cars in Britain. In 2001, it was named both WhatCar? And Top Gear Car of the Year. Top gear praised the Mondeo for its 'all things to all men' ability, high levels of safety, superior interior quality and excellent handling characteristics.

It was a bigger, safer, better quality and better-looking car than the previous Mondeo, and was once again the best car in its class. A longer-wheelbase allowed for more interior space and rear leg room was vastly increased. At 500 litres (on the hatchback version), the boot was massive too. The design of the interior was intended to be more like the cars produced by upmarket German brands such as Volkswagen and even BMW, and the analogue clock on the dashboard was a neat, classy touch that set the inside of the car off nicely. Safety was still of massive importance to the Mondeo, and it was one of the first cars to feature Ford's Intelligent Protection System. This is a system that uses a multitude of sensors located around the car to calculate where the impact is coming from and how severe it is, in order to deploy the most-effective safety measures in the event of a collision. Other safety equipment included front seatbelt pre-tensioners and load limiters, both driver and passenger airbags, side body and head airbags and three-point rear seatbelts in each of the rear seats. It gained a 4-star Euro NCAP safety rating, again in line with the competition and a significant improvement over the Mk II.

In terms of engines, the 1.8-litre Duratec petrol engine was the most popular, and generated a decent 125bhp and returned 37mpg, which was more than acceptable in 2001. The other mainstream petrol engine was a 2-litre producing 145bhp and still managing 36mpg despite pushing the car to 62mph from rest in under 10 seconds. The diesels were much more competitive than the ones in the Mk II Mondeo, the pick of the bunch being the 2-litre 130bhp TDCi unit that reduced CO2 emissions greatly compared with the petrols and managed 48mpg combined. Both the 130bhp and 115bhp TDCi engines became favourites with Taxi drivers, and they regularly exceed 150,000 miles with relative ease.
LX models were the most popular, and came with cruise control, air conditioning, radio/cd player with 4 speakers, power steering, multi-function trip computer, halogen headlights, electric windows, electric door mirrors and of course the Quickclear heated front windscreen. Optional gadgets including things like heated rear seats, automatic headlamps and rain-sensing wipers, all of which were firsts for the Mondeo.

The performance version of the Mk III Mondeo came in the form of the ST 220. This model was fitted with a full-fat 3.0-litre V6 producing 226bhp and thunders the Mondeo from 0-62mph in just 7.6s and on to a top speed of 151mph. It was good looking too, with the bespoke ST body kit including a sports front grille, re-designed front and rear bumpers and twin stainless steel exhaust pipes. It was also treated to a full leather interior, ABS, electronic stability control, 18" alloy wheels, 6-disc CD changer and electronically adjustable Recaro seats in the front. Jeremy Clarkson absolutely loved this car, saying 'every time I drive one of these things, I always get out thinking "why do we buy anything else?'. He said this because the car is fast, it rides brilliantly, handles brilliantly, is practical and looks great.

Ford also produced a performance diesel version of the Mondeo that came with 155bhp 2.2-litre TDCi engine and bucket-loads of torque. This was an attempt to offer the speed and thrills of the ST 220 but without the high running costs. It still managed 137mph and 0-62mph in 8.7s, and was much better for people who covered lots of miles.

One of the most significant things about this particular version of the Mondeo is that it was used by Tony Blair to define a new voting class: the Mondeo Man.

Ford Mondeo

Mk IV Mondeo 2007-2014

The current Mondeo has been with us for 7 years now, and in that time it has further cemented its place as a staple on British roads. Its launch was spectacular, with a fully-loaded version appearing at the beginning of the Bond film Casino Royale, driven by Daniel Craig.

The design and quality was again moved up a gear, and the Mondeo became a real rival to the likes of the BMW 3-series and the Mercedes C-Class for business users. Sales representatives are no longer afraid to turn up to meetings with clients in a Mondeo, thanks to the upmarket look and feel it possesses. It was inspired by Ford's 'Kinetic' design principles on the outside, and the inside was kitted out with a plush, premium interior and a whole host of useful features and technology.

Safety was on the agenda again, and the Mk IV was the first Mondeo to achieve the full 5-star Euro NCAP safety rating. It did this with the help of additional airbags (including one mounted beneath the steering column to protect the driver's knees) and the standard fit traction control and electronic stability programme. Other safety technologies include a blind spot warning system, lane departure warning and auto high beam. The Ford Easy Fuel system prevents you from putting in the wrong type of fuel, and adaptive cruise control allows you to match the speeds of the car in front, increasing and decreasing your speed as you drive along without you having to do a thing.

The Mk IV is another Mondeo that has won multiple awards that recognise its brilliance. In 2012 for example, it was named by WhatCar? as the UK's Greenest Family Car, Best Family Car and Best Estate Car (for the third year in a row). It also won an award from Diesel Car Magazine, as they named it their Best Large Car. Top gear also named it their Car of the Year in 2007.

In terms of specification, this car comes in either Edge, Zetec, Titanium, Titanium X or Titanium X Sport Trim levels. The popular Titanium model comes with a vast array of features as standard, including: cruise control, adaptive speed control, power steering, Ford 'Power' starter button, Bluetooth with hands free and voice recognition system, trim computer, service interval indicator, DAB digital radio with USB/AUX input, steering wheel mounted audio control, 17" alloy wheels, auto headlights, auto wipers, electric windows, electric mirrors, LED daytime running lights and front fog lights, amongst other things.

The most popular engine choice is the 2-litre TDCi Duratorq 140bhp diesel. When fitted with this particular engine, the Mondeo can achieve 62.8mpg on the combined cycle while maintaining strong performance - 0-62mph is dealt with in just 9.5s. A slightly quicker 163bhp version of this engine is also available, and if you really want serious performance you can specify the 2.2-litre 200bhp diesel on the Titanium X Sport.

Ford Mondeo

Mk V Mondeo 2014-

The all-new Mondeo is set to be released this year after its grand unveiling at the 2014 Paris Motor Show. It's more upmarket than ever before, has more features and is more efficient. There's even a hybrid saloon version. It's set to take the large family hatchback market by storm.

Do you have any Mondeo Memories? Think it's the best car ever made? Let us know on Twitter @evanshalshawuk 

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