A prototype for the next-gen, radically reinvented Ford Mondeo has hit the road in production bodywork for the first time, giving clues as to its new shape and stature.
The sighting comes just days after images purporting to show the all-new 2021 Ford Mondeo surfaced online, and appears to confirm that the next iteration will bear minimal resemblance to the current car.
As reported by Autocar in 2018, the Mondeo is set to adopt crossover-style design cues, including raised suspension and a more upright cabin than the current saloon and estate models.
The most recent spy shots show a prototype wearing heavy camouflage, but we have already had a glimpse of the front and rear ends in minimal disguise, as well as the dashboard, courtesy of photos taken in what appeared to be a private Ford facility.
The new-look front end is dominated by what appears to be a thin light strip that runs between the bonnet and a wide honeycomb grille. At the rear, the prototype appears to draw influence from Ford's new Mustang Mach-E electric flagship, with a sloping roofline and prominent lip across the bootlid.
A shot of the seemingly production-ready interior reveals the Mondeo will largely shun buttons and switches in favour of a digital infotainment screen that spans the width of the dashboard. The device's size - considerably larger than the Mach-E's vertically oriented tablet-style device - means the front passenger is likely to be offered control of certain functions.
Previous spy shots showed a test mule based on the rugged Focus Active estate, fuelling suggestions that the fifth-generation Mondeo could adopt the Active moniker across the line-up in line with its SUV-derived styling cues.
The Mondeo name itself featured on a leaked parts tooling catalogue for the 2022 model year, revealing that the car will switch from a conventional coil-spring rear suspension set-up to a transverse leaf spring rear axle, potentially to make room for a hybrid system battery pack.
It's unknown yet whether the Mondeo will be sold exclusively with electrified powertrains, but the new Kuga PHEV's system will likely feature, pairing a 2.5-litre petrol engine with a 10.3kWh battery pack for an electric-only range of around 34 miles.
The current Mondeo was sold in the US as the Fusion, in line with Ford's now-defunct One Ford plan to build and sell singular models for all worldwide markets. It's unknown whether the same strategy will be applied to the next-generation car, but the Fusion was taken out of production in summer 2020 in line with Ford's decision to move away from low-slung cars and towards 'utility'-oriented SUVs and crossovers, so there would seem to be a gap in the market for its higher-riding replacement.
The Mk5 Mondeo has been earmarked for a late-2021 launch date, so it's likely to be unveiled within the next few months.