The Mondeo has been around for an impressive 25 years now. It revolutionised family transport and it also delighted middle management types up and down the country when they learned they could get one as part of their company car scheme.
It’s always been handsome to look at and brilliant to drive, and even now, in a time where the SUV dominates, the Mondeo is still a firm favourite for Britain’s motorists.
Now in its fifth generation, the Ford Mondeo has come a long way since its humble early ‘90s guise. But how do you tell which one is which? Don’t worry. Haynes has got you covered.
Built from 1992 to 1996
Development for the MkI Mondeo actually began way back in 1986. Ford knew it needed a new car for the early ‘90s, so it wanted to spend plenty of time getting it right. Ford also spent plenty of money, six BILLION dollars in fact.
But then again, the Mondeo was a ‘world car’ by which we mean it was designed with both European and American markets in mind. As such, development was carried out in Ford Dunton, Essex as well as Dearborn in the USA. The project was headed up by John Oldfield.
So how do you spot a MkI? Well, it was front-wheel drive for starters, and the body was sleek and featured body-colour bumpers. You can also identify the MkI by its wide, thin headlamps and thin, subtle grille. As for body style, the MkI Mondeo was available as a hatch, saloon or estate.
Mondeo fact: The Mk1 Mondeo was driven by Andy Rouse in BTCC, and in ’93 and ’94, he and the car won the championship.
Built from 1996 to 2000
Technically speaking, the MkII was more of a heavy facelift than an outright new car. Again, it was available as a saloon, an estate and hatch. The MkI was a huge success, but even so, it was somewhat criticised for its bland styling and the genuinely terrible headlights that were more like glow worms in jars than actual sources of helpful illumination. The interior was also slightly reworked too, so as to offer a bit more rear legroom.
To spot a MkII you’re looking for the same basic body as the MkI, but with bigger, angry-looking headlights. Also, the rear doors feature plates in which the name Mondeo is written
Mondeo fact: The MkII brought about the first true performance model, namely the V6 ST24.
Built from 2000 to 2007
The MkIII was a huge leap forward for the Mondeo, both figuratively and literally – it was a much bigger car. Ford was keen to address the ongoing issue of rear passenger space, which in part is why the MkIII was an all-new body. It did, however, carry over the suspension from the previous model.
But considering it was a class-leading setup, why would Ford change it? It did change the engines though, again to answer complaints stemming from the previous model. The big issue was the shonky diesel option, which Ford addressed with a much better Duratorq engine, making the MkIII into an economical and deeply comfortable mile-muncher – perfect for the middle management types who would buy it.
To spot a MkIII, look for a large car with clean, simply lines. You can also spot them by the subtle ‘over’ arches pressed into the wings. Look also for the more angular, less angry headlights and equally angular rear lights.
Mondeo fact: There was a race series proposed for the MkIII Mondeo, conceived by Jonathan Palmer, but it never came to be.
Built from 2006 to 2014
Despite its strong looks which fully embodied Ford’s ‘Kinetic Design’ philosophy, the MkIV wasn’t a huge seller for Ford. While the MkI and MkII once enjoyed yearly figures of approximately 100,000 sales, the MkIV dwindled down to a mere 13,000 in 2013.
However, it wasn’t a total loss for Ford, as customers were naturally moving into SUVs, like the Kuga, which was another Ford product. However, within its class, the Mondeo lost sales to the likes of the Vauxhall Insignia. A bitter blow for Ford, and a repeat of the Sierra/Cavalier sales wars of the ‘80s and ‘90s.
To spot a MkIV, look for rear side windows that kick up ever so slightly, as well as wider, thinner rear lights. At the front, you can spot a MkIV via the ‘arrowhead’ headlights, which go back along the side of the car, over the front wheels.
Mondeo fact: Ford paid an undisclosed amount (in the millions) for a few seconds of screen time in James Bond film, Casino Royale.
Built from 2012 to present
The current Mondeo is the biggest yet, and is a true global car. In fact, other than the badges, it’s pretty much identical to the American Ford Fusion. As such, it means the current car is a big old beast, offering plenty of space for passengers both front and back.
Unusually though, it’s not available with a six-cylinder engine, or a five-cylinder (as per the MkIV) for that matter. Instead, it has a range of three and four-cylinder turbocharged petrol and diesel engines. There is also a Vingnale model, which is designed with luxury at the top of the list. Champagne motoring for lemonade money!
You can spot the current Mondeo by its big front grille with two-sided sculpted ends, the wide, narrow, almost Mustang-esque headlights, a strong swage line that runs from above the front arches to the back of the car and also a deep chin with sculpted lower bumper.
Mondeo fact: This model is also available in South Africa but as a Fusion, despite the Mondeo name having already been used in that market.