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.
The final styling of the new car was previewed by the dramatic gullwinged Evos concept, shown at the recent Frankfurt show.
Sources at Ford say that the front and rear of the Evos will be translated into production, as will details such as the Bentley-esque hump over the rear wheel.
The Mk4 Mondeo will replace the Mazda 6-based Ford Fusion in North American markets.
The Fusion Hybrid is one of Ford’s mainstay ‘green’ models, so a new Mondeo hybrid model will step in for the Fusion in 2013. In Europe, the petrol-electric Mondeo will combine a 160bhp 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine, a 40bhp electric motor and a dual-clutch transmission.
The current Fusion hybrid uses a 2.4-litre, four-cylinder, engine and an electric motor, but there’s no news as to whether the US Mondeo hybrid will also use the 1.6-litre Ecoboost engine.