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The Ford Mondeo meal deal

Like a takeaway meal, medium-sized cars just keep getting bigger.

Carsguide.com.au reader Pat Reeves has emailed in with this question:


When I started researching the new Mondeo I could at first not believe its weight, thinking that the published specs must be wrong I looked further only to find out that it is wider than the falcon, higher than the falcon and only marginally shorter.  Yet is marketed as a "Medium Size Car"

Further comparison shows it to be larger overall or in some dimension than cars in the "Large Car" category.

Between the Falcon and the Focus, Ford had nearly 600mm in length to play with but they make the Mondeo 500mm longer than the Focus.  Ford also had well over 400kg difference in weight yet make a car only 90kg lighter than their big family sized sedan.

I get confused when shopping with my wife and find out that 10 is often larger than 12.  But now it looks like Medium is bigger than Large.  When will manufactures get it, if we wanted something big we would buy a large car, but we want something smaller and are offered bigger.

What does "Medium" in car classification now mean?


 

Thanks Pat, good question. Despite the "medium" label, the Mondeo is essentially about the same size as the Falcon. A couple of millimetres here and there makes little practical difference. Ford calls it "medium-sized" in Australia to try and create some distance between the Falcon and Mondeo, to try and attract medium sedan buyers and avoid cannibalising Falcon sales.

Ford Australia finds itself in this position because the Mondeo is a true 'world car' - a common platform from which large manufacturers try to meet the needs of very different consumers, in very different markets.

The Ford Falcon has been amongst the biggest-selling car models of all time, but practically all of those sales have been in Australia and New Zealand, so the Falcon is a "large sedan" designed and built for the Australian market, where we like our family cars like we like our takeaway meals - supersized.

The Mondeo, on the other hand, is a true 'world car.' It's based on a manufacturing platform used not just for building Mondeos but also Ford's S-MAX and Galaxy people-movers, several Volvos and even the Land Rover Freelander.

The engineering ingenuity that allows several companies to spin out a variety of models from one set of underpinnings is impressive, but it can't hide the basic dimensions and weight of a platform used to build a Land Rover (even the softest one).

Outside Australia and New Zealand, there's no such thing as a Ford Falcon. In Europe, with its narrow streets, heavy traffic and small families, a Mondeo is considered a big family sedan (a medium family is happy in a Focus, a small family in a Festiva with a roof box...) So outside the US and Australia, it doesn't really matter how big the Mondeo is - it's meant to be the biggest. It's only in Australia that Ford has a problem.

Not such a big problem really. Big is generally better these days; newer technologies mean they can add interior space and even weight to a car and still have it return improved economy and performance.

Big though it is, the Mondeo's a great car to drive, and a long way ahead of the current model Falcon on most criteria. Take one for a test drive (particularly the diesel) before you spend too much more time with the tape measure. As you slip neatly through another slippery roundabout without the body roll and rear-end slip of a Falcon you'll wonder how they could make a people-mover and a Land Rover out of something that handles so well. It boggles the mind.

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