This chopped-about mule is the new Ford Mondeo undergoing early real-world testing.
Although the prototype is clearly based on the current Ford Mondeo estate, close examination of the pictures show that the car is rolling on modified running gear. The front and rear track has been widened noticeably, highlighted by the more pronounced wheel arches.
The front wheel also seems to have been moved slightly further forward, necessitating extra metal between the front door and front arch.
The biggest change to this mule is the use of the new Mondeo grille and headlamp arrangement, albeit heavily disguised. This type of test car is sometimes called a cooling mule because it is primarily used to test the combined cooling performance of the new drivetrain and the grille openings in the new-styled nose. This mule was involved in towing heavy loads to put the cooling system under a heavy load.
The new Mondeo should be publicly unveiled at the Detroit show in January 2012 and will go on sale later in the year in the US, Europe and Asian markets.