The other day I came into possession of the UK sales figures for the Ford Mondeo over the last 19 years. Of course the car has got a way to run yet - and there will be another Mondeo on UK roads before too long. But the decline in sales, particularly over the last four years or so, is alarming.
According to Ford, 1,349,571 Mondeos have been sold in the UK since launch.
MkI 1993-95: 333,844MkII 1996-99: 384,877MkIII 2000-02: 227,960MkIV 2003-06: 226,105MkV 2007-09: 126,370Mk VI 2010- 50,415
There’s no doubt that the Mondeo has been hit by the triple whammy of downsizing, the rise of premium brands (the Mondeo was not in the UK sales Top 10 in 2011, but the 3-series was) and in-house competition from the excellent S-Max. But the rate of sales decline in the latest - and by far the best - version suggests to me that we might not see a Mk7 Mondeo.
But what’s not to like? The current car is spacious, handsome, handles extremely well, the estate is absolutely huge, the diesel will give you the thick end of 50mpg all day long and it gets a full five stars in the EuroNCAP crash tests. Indeed, nip over to EuroNCAP’s site and look at the impressive way the Mondeo cabin hangs together in an impact.
Better still, the running costs are well in tune with austerity Britain. Three years down the line, when the warranty has run out, a Mondeo owner has much less to fear than an Audi or BMW owner. Main dealers shouldn’t become no-go areas and the Mondeo should be a much more private buyer-friendly than a used premium-badge car.
Another problem is that, as the supply of the new Mondeo shrinks back to just 25,000 per year, they’ll no longer become such incredible used-car bargains. Prices will, surely, start to rise as these excellent machines become harder to find on the used market.
If I was tipped out of the world of the press fleet car, I have no doubt that the Mondeo would be my first choice of private motor. My brother ran two, a Mk3 and Mk4, and ran up huge mileages with only a broken spring and new exhaust on the debit side of the account.
In the post-warranty world, premium badges just don’t add up when cars like the Mondeo still exist.