Jaguar’s XF Is Not Alone

Or Ford’s 2015 Mondeo is not alone. They are both guilty of the same crime. That crime is to offer a new model that differs very little from the predecessor.

2015 Ford Mondeo
2015 Ford Mondeo

Here’s the new 2015 Mondeo (above). Granted, it’s black and the lighting is terrible. It does look incredibly like the last one though. Ford does not usually do this. Usually they make it really clear that a new model has superceded the old one, for better and for worse. This time they have gone for an evolutionary approach.

Perhaps they have overdone underdoing it. Seeing it in the flesh for the first time I feel the car really does resemble a version of the 2007 car and not a vehicle that does anything remarkably different from the last one. Had this car been launched in 2007 nobody would have noticed. The same is true of the current BMW 5 series and the Mercedes E-class. The Jaguar XF is playing the same game.

2007 Ford Mondeo.
2007 Ford Mondeo.

There are two reasons why Ford might be doing this. One is practical: to synchronise the US and EU market vehicles in this size-range. In theory it makes no sense to have similar sized vehicles in these markets running their own schedules. The world car market is now so uniform that whatever Idaho needs will suit Nordrhein-Westfalen, the Isle of Thanet and the Dordogne.

The second reason is that Fords have lost value with indecent haste, in part because everyone knows that when a new model is launched the old model will seem dated and stale. Who wants the last generation Mondeo? To judge by the used car prices, not many. A 2006 Mondeo in top trim with 60,000 km under its wheels costs dramatically less than a BMW 3-series of the same year, a difference that is not proportional to their prices when new. Lower resale prices undermine the price that can be charged new. Ask Citroen and Renault and Opel and….

The risks for Ford are as follows: the new car’s dimensions are unsuited to one or other of the markets. This happened with the 1992 Ford Mondeo/Ford Contour. While the 1992 model went down like ambrosia in Europe, it was rejected in the US because the rear seating did not meet the locals’ space requirements. The Honda Accord has fallen out of favour, in part because it is not sized to suit European tastes but is scaled to appeal to the North American market.

I think this car is now too big. The last one was too big. If this car is bigger it really will feel bulky for a lot of drivers.  The other risk is that they have played it too safe with the styling change. As I have said elsewhere, VW manage to make each new generation of Golf distinctive enough to be apparent at first glance yet visibly Golfish enough to retain the long-term value of the Golf image.

The 2015 Mondeo appears to be a facelift in the style of the 2015 Passat which has retained the same glasshouse and main architecture of the previous model. Do I really have to take out a measuring tape to check if the side glass is a carry-over? Time for one of my cliches: if you have to measure a difference you haven’t really made one.

My gut feeling is that in waiting for the EU Mondeo and US Fusion ranges to synchronise, Ford have lost customers who won’t come back. I also suspect this Mondeo will not sell in the same numbers as the last one and will join the ranks of the vanished peers in the C-D class or will linger as an also-ran in the mould of the Laguna, C5 and 508.

Author: richard herriott

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

14 thoughts on “Jaguar’s XF Is Not Alone”

  1. Looking at the profiles, it appears that Ford might have improved rear headroom, a point I also noticed about the new XF. There’s more overhang too. I share your perception that the previous model was too big and a fair bit larger than the Mark 2 Mondeo, but it seems that isn’t so.

    The original Mark 1 was 4481mm long. The facelift increased that by 75mm.
    Mark 2 increased by a further 175mm.
    Mark 3 increased by a further 47mm
    The new model increases by a further 87mm.

    So, in fact, the change from Mark 1 to 2 is the biggest jump, which fits in with your point about the need for increased rear room in the Mark 1. But Mark 2 was a more airy car so, from a driver’s perception,maybe it seemed less massive than its successors.

    Without being reactionary, I feel that the outgoing model looked better all round. I can’t see the current one looking too desirable in 6 years time.

  2. That vast expanse of metal under the C pillar and the longer rear overhang make the wheels look tiny, particularly with small rims shod with sensible rubber. That’s not a good look.

    I saw the latest Passat for the first time in the UK last weekend. It too looks very big, but also a lot more opulent than the outgoing model. Overall it looks like a lot more car, not a mere facelift.

    1. The new Passat in fact is as all-new a car as it gets. The previous generation was of the heavily facelifted/bodylifted kind, but the new one is actually based on VAG’s MQB platform.

    2. Thanks for confirming – I thought it looks a fair bit different.

    3. For sure, VW´s Godfather Piëch is very pleased looking at the refined solid (and very conservative) looking Passat. That would helps him recovering from the disappointing stagnation at Audi and Skoda.

  3. The problem with the C segment has always been one of sizing. To my mind the first Mondeo was just about the right size for British buyers; perhaps even marginally large, but not grievously so. It was certainly as wide as most UK buyers would require or could tolerate.

    As with most British concerns, most things come down to property, or the lack thereof. The average UK house has a small driveway, or non at all. Victorian and Edwardian terraces force you to park on the road. Houses built 1945-1980 assumed that the average car was the size (particularly width) of a Morris Minor. Post 1980, the best you could hope for was a bit of tarmac at the front of your house. Post 1995, the best you could hope for was a bit of block paving on the same estate. Into those assorted pint pots, the quart-sized Mondeo cannot go.

    When I was but a wee lad growing up on a road built in 1973, a neighbour owned a 1990 Ford Scorpio Estate, which was easily the biggest car on the cul-de-sac. Literally, as it turned out; the car was so large, the neighbour could not fit the leviathan on his drive. Nowadays that 1973 development still represents the average UK house, but All New Mondeo (TM) dwarfs that 1990 Scorpio. To compare:

    Scorpio Estate
    L 4826mm
    W 1760mm (ex. mirrors)

    All New Mondeo Estate
    L 4867mm
    W 1852mm (ex. mirrors)

    To wit: in the UK, people might want that amount of metal, but they won’t have anywhere to put it. It does not help that recent Mondeii have “looked large”, as even the suspicion that the car might be too portly for its intended harbour is enough for buyers to disregard it. (The opposite effect is perhaps why the Vauxhall/Opel Insignia has been such a success.)

  4. Chris. Those are good points and, as a London dweller, I’ll add town parking. Many parking spaces are marked out based on the average size of cars 30 or more years ago. Since it’s unfortunately fitted with a tow bar, my aged Audi estate is a similar size to the Scorpio, and I frequently encounter parking spaces that, because the cars either side have been a little mean, I can’t actually fit into.

  5. I should also mention that those same constraints do not apply to the majority of US car buyers. As far as the Mondeo/Fusion is concerned, the One Ford policy is “What’s good for the goose, is good for the goose”.

  6. This goes back a long way. Cars like the PA Cresta and Mark IV Zodiac, which GM and Ford thought would get UK buyers falling over each other in order to get a slice of American Pie, were relative failures. People might have liked the look of them, in a dirty/guilty sort of way, but they also looked a bit daunting. It’s hard to imagine that US car executives ever visit Europe – come on, there are some great fare deals around!

    It depends on whether you look at cars from the outside or inside. You can fit a small car into a big space, but you can’t fit a big man into a small space.

  7. One, I have to stop writing about the Mondeo. Two, I feel the Mk2 had the optimum size. Three, it’s width that matters when it comes to whether a vehicle feels wieldy. Four, is the new Passat all new? I had to check Wikipedia before writing this and concluded it was a thorough facelift. Five, it still looks really Imperial. It will maul the other vehicles in the class. The next Insignia will need to be good to even hold its ground. Six, the Mondeo is toast. File under Scorpio.

  8. In Europe, there is a quite invisible border of 5 meters car length. A border
    american customers do not set but european drivers do – just thinking of little medieval villages…

    Well, and at the same time, there are no more reasonable points for the upper middle class.
    Except more image, senseless engines with more cylinders or more power – combined with 4-wheel-drive or rear-wheel drive. Points, neither Ford nor PSA, Renault, Mazda or Opel can fulfill without having enormous costs for selling a handful of cars.
    But each company thinks one has to offer a big car.

    So while cars of the middle class are approaching this border step by step – and even “compact” family cars like the Astra Sports Tourer are following this path – there is no more room for the upper middle class to expand. The last Saab 9-5 did overcome this border – and disappeared immediatedly…Citroen, Peugeot, Ford, Opel, Mazda or Alfa are clever enough not to try it.
    The less image a company has, the bigger is the car: Audi A4 (4,69m), VW Passat (4,78m), Skoda Superb (4,87m),

    The new Mondeo has a bit more horizontal design as his predecessor. Mentioning this means that i can not really see a lot of differences.
    Car designer in these days must be a very boring job – and a very challenging one too.

    1. I really like the image of C/D cars vanishing as they near the 5 metre point.
      Car design is a bit like golf. The results can be uninteresting to see but to do it is fascinating. The more severe are the constraints the more enjoyable it gets. I offer that insight based on my past life as an MA automotive student and low-level designer. Producing a vehicle design that is merely fault free can be hard. The pleasure comes from the craft of choosing the detail solutions and harmonising them. Perhaps some product designers get close to the same level of intense engagement with form giving. Or some of the more serious fine artists.

    2. Giugiaro has been on the record explaining that he considers any car longer than 4.5 metres pointless.

      I wouldn’t go that far, but to my eyes, the luxury saloon sector has lost most of its appeal once these cars stretched far beyond the 5m mark on a regular basis. Only cars with impractically grand overall proportions “work” on this scale, such as Rolls-Royces or the most regal of Benzes. But the current large saloons, especially Audi’s A8 and the BMW Seven, are just looking daft, courtesy of their opulent size.

  9. It’s obvious that between the 90s and now the cars got a lot bulkier (probably to accomodate all the tech and safety features). Still, some designers are pretty good at concealing the bulk, while the last two Mondeos are the exact opposite – they look as if someone blew a lot of air up their tailpipe ; ) As Laurent pointed out – the wheels on the latest one are visually almost non-existant, but I bet the 2007 photo would look just as bad were the rims not humongous.

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