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