SAY hello to the new Ford Mondeo. Or to be more accurate, say ni hao.
Apologies if I’ve offended any Mandarin-speaking Champion readers with that hastily googled translation, but you do at least get the new Mondeo as ample compensation. You see, the fifth generation of Ford’s motorway mile-muncher has just been launched in China – and that’s pretty much where it’s staying. There are no plans to bring it here, or to any markets in continental Europe, or Uncle Henry’s homeland in the US, for that matter.
It’s also been designed not for Mondeo Man – the hard-pressed family guy stereotype very publicly courted by Tony Blair in the run-up to the 1997 General Election – but specifically for drivers in the People’s Republic. It’s been designed there too, at Ford’s China Design Centre in Shanghai, and it’s going to be built there too, by Chang’an Ford, a 50/50 joint venture between the Blue Oval and China’s very own Chang’an Automobile, based in Chongqing.
However, it’s widely rumoured that some of the new Mondeo’s oily bits could come to the UK under the skin of the new Evos, which is – you guessed it – a five-door crossover. Nothing’s been confirmed officially yet, but word on the street is that it’s going to be kitted out with either a 1.5-litre or two-litre petrol unit, both using hybrid tech to keep the emissions down.
This new Mondeo has definitely been fine-tuned with the world’s biggest new car market in mind. One of the biggest priorities for the Chinese market is lots of rear legroom, so it’s hardly surprising that while the Mondeo’s a little longer and a little wider than the one it replaces, most of the hard work has been done on stretching the wheelbase by 104mm, so that even Peter Crouch can get comfy in its back seats. The other big ask is lots of tech, and it’s got that too, with a full-width digital dashboard and software from Chinese tech giant Baidu.
But the thing that makes this one Chinese takeaway that I’d definitely want to order in is that it looks terrific. I know car design is a very subjective thing, but I suspect what’s considered a looker on the streets of Shanghai is probably going to cut it in Southport or Seaforth too. The old Mondeo, which bows out in March, isn’t exactly ugly but the coupé roofline, Mustang-esque kicked up rear and door handles that could have been nicked straight off a Jaguar iPace all make this Mondeo, in my book at least, the most enticing one so far. Yet it’s the only one, because you’ve all been buying BMWs and Qashqais instead, that we’re not allowed to have.
Shame. Just when it looks like the Mondeo’s getting its groove back, it’s been taken away from us, but there’s still time to change your mind, Uncle Henry. I’ll have mine in ST220 spec, please.
David Simister is the editor of Classic Car Weekly