Driven to extinction

FORD MONDEO

ALEX INWOOD

A NEW FIXTURE COVERING CARS THAT HAVE RECENTLY COPPED THE CHOP, IN WHICH WE REFLECT ON THEIR IMPACT AND LEGACY. ENTER THE MONDEO MAN...

“AH YES, the Ford Mondeo,” nodded the industry observer with a sad smile. “Another excellent car that Ford Australia failed to market correctly. It was practically invisible!” Think about it. When was the last time you noticed a billboard promoting a new Mondeo? Or watched a television commercial, glanced at a Google ad, or flicked past a print promotion spruiking the Mondeo’s greatness?

Well, now you never will. Yep, Ford’s venerable midsizer is about to cop a bullet and once remaining stock disappears, it will be no more in Australia. It’s too simplistic to blame a lack of marketing spend for the Mondeo’s demise, of course. Like the Holden Commodore, Mazda 6 and Toyota Camry, the Mondeo has fallen victim to a shift in buyer tastes towards SUVs.

Plus, there’s the Falcon factor to consider. Unlike its rivals, the Mondeo faced stiff competition from inside its own model-range in the form of Ford’s other (and larger) family car which drew most of the attention from advertisers and magazines like this one. Bursting free from that long shadow was always a tough ask.

The harsh reality is the mid-size segment has contracted shockingly. From the heady days of 2011 when Ford was moving 6000+ Mondeos a year, sales now sit at just 10 percent of what they were less than a decade ago.

And that’s sad because despite its relative anonymity, the Mondeo is an excellent car. Aussies mightn’t have embraced the Mondeo as strongly as the British – over there sales were so strong and the nameplate so omnipresent that it managed to encapsulate an entire political subclass known as the Mondeo Man – but it has consistently rated highly in Wheels comparos and has been lauded for its well-considered chassis tune, fine steering, and ultra-roomy packaging.

There have been hot versions, too. Australia missed out on the UK market ST220, though we did enjoy a high watermark in the form of 2008’s XR5 Turbo, which boasted a 162kW/320Nm Volvo-sourced five-cylinder.

Perhaps the biggest missed opportunity, however, is the 2014 decision not to offer a Mondeo hybrid Down Under to rival the (now) strong-selling Camry hybrid.

Ford Oz isn’t the only one swinging the guillotine. Tellingly, Ford North America isn’t replacing its version of the Mondeo (dubbed Fusion), though don’t fret this spells the end of the Mondeo story globally. An all-new model is planned for 2021, however leaked documents suggest it could morph into a drastically different proposition.

Should you feel glum that the Mondeo will soon be no more? We do. It seems the time for conventional mid-size wagons and hatches, invisible or not, has passed.

ALEX INWOOD

AUSSIE SALES

A decade of decline

2010 – 4575 

2011 – 6626 

2012 – 5203 

2013 – 3089 

2014 – 3051 

2015 – 2120 

2016 – 3122 

2017 – 2959 

2018 – 1914 

2019 – 646 

2020 – 66

WORLD’S FASTEST MONDEO MEN

A 12-year stint in NASCAR and eight seasons as a factory squad in the BTCC helped cement the Mondeo’s reputation as a tidy handler. The British touring cars were mental, especially for the 2000 season. Built by Prodrive at a rumoured cost of £1 million each, they paired a 2.0L V6 with front-wheel drive and finished 1-2-3 in the drivers’ championship. One of the cars sold for £83,250 in 2016.