A Photo for Sunday – 2006 Ford Mondeo

This is not yet another of my pleas for the world to acknowledge the subtle allure of the 2000-2007 Ford Mondeo.

2006 Ford Mondeo Ghia in Aarhus, Denmark.
2006 Ford Mondeo Ghia in Aarhus, Denmark.

Rather it’s a chance to meditate on the impact of trim on the perception of a car. In this instance we see something quite rare: a Ford Mondeo with all the options thrown at it. The version here is a Ghia in 2.0 diesel guise. It has a body kit which makes it look lower though not excessively so. Chrome accents give the door-handles a boost.

The six spoke alloys would grace a Bugatti and finally a sensible but restrained bright strip defines the lower edge of the “daylight opening” (or window to you and me). The owner has even plumped for an unusually strong colour for this class of car. Added up we have a distinctive yet not overbearing car.

I would like to turn the received wisdom upside down. RW says the owner should have spent the same money as they spend on the Ford on this:

2006 BMW 318i
2006 BMW 318i

It is a car you’d lose in a car-park and is fast on the way to becoming the preferred wheels of suburban 20-something males who like to drive around four-up at the dead of night. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with the 3-er but is it really sane to want less car with less individuality for the same money? Is that car really so much nicer looking than a Laguna, Vectra or Mondeo?

The second point raised about this high-spec Mondeo is that the preference buyers have for base-models in plain colours means our long-term perceptions of these cars is driven by the fact we see the poorer end of the model range. We then conclude, long-term, these were boring or plain cars generally. I think that of the cars made, it is higher-spec versions that survive best. Those in turn advertise the durability and appeal of the brand. If you don’t make or sell so many high-spec cars, then posterity will remember you poorly, no matter how many cars were sold new. If more Mondeos and Renault Lagunas, for example, looked as lush as this car, more would survive as cherished examples.

2006 Ford Monedo 1.8 16V (www.mobile.de)
2006 Ford Monedo 1.8 16V (www.mobile.de)

What am I advising? I suggest Ford gives up even offering the option of a base-model car. Sure you can gain a sale but you lose brand value. Make sure all of them, on the outside, look like high-end models. This means that those that survive will continue to advertise the car and the brand. As it is, if you picture a ten year old Mondeo you are certain to think of one in flat blue or metallic grey with black rubber windowframes and wheel covers. This is not good for brand equity.

I could have chosen other brands for this…or could I? The Peugeot 406 and 407 seems not to have much visual differentiation. Opel have made sure most Insignias look mid-spec. The 1993 and 2000 Renault Lagunas are pretty homogenous. So, is my message really directed at Ford only? And have Ford also given up selling visually impoverished base-models anyway?

[Post-script: I went looking for Mondeo saloons. Nearly 80% of the cars were estates and it seems lots of people bought the mid-range versions, the TDCi model. A top-range Platinum diesel was only €2000 though it was an estate. What a lot of car for so little money. Another striking aspect is that a 2006 BMW 318i starts at about €5000 while any model of 2006 Ford Mondeo starts at about €2000. Is a Ford 40% as good as a 3?]

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

10 thoughts on “A Photo for Sunday – 2006 Ford Mondeo”

  1. Personally I think that the build quality of the “mundane” marques has reached the quality of BMW and Mercedes. In the same way that safety used to be the preserve of SAAB and Volvo but is no prevalent in almost every vehicle. Size/weight is now the definer of safety hence the weight of a Mini being the same as my old SAAB 900’s.
    Even worse for the prestige brands is that they’ve dumbed down their engineering quality at the same time as the mundanes have improved theirs. Thus they’re really trading on old perceived values and brand marketing.
    That brand marketing is now pigeon holed into very small and very few boxes. I don’t think there is a SAAB brand (perhaps Volvo still holding on) of people who didn’t give a crap about what others think of them but want something distinctive.
    Sure, you can buy a Skoda but that’s not distinctive (IMHO), it merely says I wasn’t going to pay the excess for a VW or the greater excess for the AUDI.
    Sat in a new Focus yesterday and it seemed OK, my only real criticism was the massive array of buttons. One thing it did have was doors that I suspect shut and open as nicely as the 3 series or the c class.

  2. The Mondeo was designed by the same hand that made the Passat B5. A very clean design – much better than the Mk1 and the Mk3.
    But he is a heavy ruster – i saw Mondeo with 4 rusty doors that were only three years old….

    1. Odd that: Denmark is car hell but I don´t see rusty Mondeos. They fade and the window rubbers curl at the door split line but rust, no, miraculously no. I do see rusted Mercedes W-126s and rusted Kas and rusted Opel Astras….we do do rust up here!

  3. I agree with stephenlewis – I think the market really misses the SAAB brand and its cars. I saw a lovely, last of the line 9-5 in Stoke on Saturday and thought it looked very appealing. There are very few interesting alternatives in the saloon classes now that SAAB has gone, Subaru withdrawn from offering the Legacy in the UK, and Alfa, Fiat, Renault and (soon to be) Citroen, Honda and Toyota have nothing to offer. This must explain why the Mazda range has gained an almost irrational appeal for me over the last 12 months, and I still tip this marque to join the ranks of those that bridge the gap between the premium and mainstream brands. Hope flames eternal for the incoming Giulia …

    1. The last 9-5 is lovely-looking indeed! It may be to large, but it doesn’t look it – and it combines genuinely unusual (for today, that is) proportions with very assured detailing. If I needed a car of this kind and size, I’d get one in a heartbeat. Eventually, it’ll also become a classic, just simply by being the last Saab and due to the numbers produced.

  4. I am definitely with you on this one, Richard. As with most Fords, perceptions of the mark 3 Mondeo were definitely undercut by bog standard trim levels. Every copy rolling out of the factory should have had alloys, a variation on the ST bumper set and no side rub strip.

    1. Peugeot 406s are nearly impossible to distinguish from one another but they all seem to look low-series. The giveaways are velour upholstery and a thin sliver of brighwork on the rub-strip. Similarly, I have no sense of the Laguna 2 or Laguna 3 having noticeable variations in trim levels though, of course, they had them. Is it then only really Ford who decided to offer really boggo versions of their cars? I think they have given up on this as the last Mondeo seemed to be always in mid-level spec, with or without a chromed window surround.

  5. Markus: which designer are you thinking of? I remember at the time comments saying how much the Mondeo owed to the foregoing passat, the 1996. I also agreed. Now I don´t. The Mondeo is more geometrical and has flatter surfaces while the Passat is remarkably organic. However, it´s not a matter or who is right or wrong. I´m interested to hear why someone might hold the opinion they do on this kind of thing. Is it the graphics? Proportions? What am I missing.

  6. I think, it was j Mays who designed some Volkswagen in the 90ies and then joined the Ford company. The Ford Taurus was a Passat-Twin:

    The rust problem at the doors was caused by a false production program – the steel was first treated with galvanic stuff and then cut into pieces – so the cutted edges were missing any anti-corrosion treatment.

  7. I agree with you about the Ford shown above. Wasn´t it the first 500 that was the real offender? The window line and surface treatment are very Passat. The Mondeo on the other hand looks as different from the 1996 Passat as the Vectra, Laguna and the others.
    About the time line: J Mays joined Ford in 1997. Chris Bird came over from Audi in 1999 (he started in Jan 1999). Mays was more of a general director of design and not a detail designer though he would have had to approve the cars he was responsible for. Until 1999 Claude Lobo was the director of Ford´s European operation. So, the Mondeo was styled by a team of the old and new guard. Bird came too late to do more than look at very small details. The car would have been frozen, designwise, in early 1998. I think where the 2000 Mondeo looks VW-ish is in the details and finish rather than in the main elements of its form. It has quite different lamps and a markedly more angular character, I would say.

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