In the old days, Ford would never have dreamed of calling the Mondeo a flagship. It was just too numerous and too ordinary.
Yet this is the bold label being placed on the all-new 2007 edition, due in Geneva in March, and on sale in the UK in June.
Why the rapid promotion? Because the family saloon market is nowhere near as mainstream as it used to be: for several years, buyers have been migrating in numbers to MPVs and premium saloons. These days more BMW 3-series are sold in big European markets than Mondeos and Vectras.
Ford has plenty of research to show that no one dislikes the current Mondeo. It’s just that too few people really desire it. This is the priority for the 2007 model: to offer styling that generates desire and back it with substance.
It’s a tough task but an important one: sales in this class still exceed 400,000-plus in Britain, and Ford believes it can carve itself a bigger slice.
The 2007 Mondeo comes in three versions — a four-door saloon, five-door hatch, and an estate — and is closely based on the underpinnings of the S-Max and Galaxy MPVs introduced in 2006.
The major elements of its styling were shown both as concepts at last year’s Paris show and in the opening scenes of the most recent James Bond film, so they’re already quite familiar.
Less obvious is the new size: the car is around 30mm taller, 50mm longer and 60mm wider than its predecessor. However, the tautness of its rakish, high-booted shape disguises the extra size well. Also helpful here is an increase of 100mm in wheelbase, which gives the car compact overhangs.