Very interesting read on new generation Volvo based Mondeo
wow, what an interesting read....
<B>New Mondeo's In The Family Way</B>
Say goodbye to the Mundano - and hello to Ford's new range of cutting-edge family cars. As you read this, Auto Express can reveal that the blue oval's design staff are putting the final touches to an exciting four-model line-up to replace today's three-strong Mondeo family.
We've discovered that the firm will replace the range with a sharply styled saloon and liftback, a Vauxhall Signum-style estate-cum-hatch, an all-road MAV (or multi activity vehicle) and a modern interpretation of the Galaxy people carrier, tipped to be christened the E-MAX.
The move is intended to drive the Mondeo away from its traditional 'repmobile' reputation. Key rivals, according to Ford, will include the Alfa Romeo 156 and Honda's Accord. However, the biggest surprise is that the new family will be based on an updated version of Volvo's S60 platform. This means the range will benefit from top-level safety as well as the option of four-wheel drive.
The saloon, hatchback and MPV will be built at Ford's Cologne plant in Germany. However, current plans would see the MAV made at Jaguar's Halewood factory on Merseyside. Sources have pointed out the new 2005 Land Rover Freelander will also be produced there, using the same Volvo-derived platform.
The first cars to arrive - the MAV and new Sports Estate - will debut at the Geneva Motor Show in 2006, and are expected to hit the road around six months later. But the Mondeo project actually began in summer 2002, when Ford hired a London-based design con******cy to conduct market research. Since then, top brass have given the green light to an audacious plan to build a more radical range of family cars and make a determined drive upmarket.
At a recent customer clinic in Cologne, potential customers were shown the new Mondeo saloon and Sports Estate, alongside more upmarket rivals such as the Alfa 156.
One source told Auto Express that the Mondeo's recent facelift was the beginning of the move into a more premium class of the market. "We improved the comfort and made the car more refined," he explained. "We wanted to mix premium quality and affordability."
Our source then revealed plans for a Volvo XC90-style variant. "The sector is set to broaden to include an MAV model," he told us. This move is thought to be inspired by the success Ford has enjoyed in the American market with the recently revealed 500 executive saloon and Freestyle off-roader.
The new Mondeo family will feature far more striking and assertive styling, according to a senior design source who recently spoke to Auto Express. He also told us he thought the Focus RS "was one of best design jobs of recent years", and hinted that its wide track and pronounced wheelarches could become a Ford signature. "We want the cars to look much bolder, and offer a clear link between models," he added.
What's more, he pointed out that for the past few years the company had emphasised good driving dynamics as a Ford characteristic, but that now "there was room for another area: design".
According to our company insider, a future Mondeo estate would have a shorter rear overhang, be wider, bigger inside, sit lower, look more sleek and have a clever new tailgate design. "Is it possible to combine the seat flexibility of a Signum with high style?" he asked, suggesting this is an issue that Ford is currently working on. Auto Express has also discovered that the re-invention of the seven-seat Galaxy, the E-MAX, has been entrusted to a radical British designer with a track record of innovation.
"He's a family man who is genuinely excited to be penning his ideal family car," explained a source. We understand that the design work is still ongoing, but that the new Galaxy will retain the one-box shape of the original model. However, it will be sleeker and more sophisticated, just as the Focus C-MAX has become in the sector below.
It's also thought that the new platform will offer higher-than-normal driving positions in the saloon and hatch. As the chassis is Volvo-derived, there's said to be space for the new V6 turbodiesel Ford developed in conjunction with PSA Peugeot Citroen. But whether Volvo will allow Ford to use its five-cylinder petrol and diesel engines remains a mystery. Either way, the next-generation 2.0-litre turbodiesels are expected to be the most popular choice.
Six-speed manual gearboxes and five-ratio autos will be the mainstream transmission options, and some sources say a new CVT transmission will also be offered. Four-wheel drive is likely to be optional on the MPV and Sports Estate and standard on the MAV. There's no news yet on whether the all-roader will seat five or seven - but a seven-seater would clash with the E-MAX.
The new models will be crucial to Ford's European arm, as sales of traditional Mondeo-type cars are falling each year. That's because today's buyer - who needs space for a family - is increasingly considering mini-MPVs, compact off-roaders and even models from premium brands such as BMW, Mercedes and Audi. The result is that the market for cars positioned between the VW Golf at one end and BMW 3-Series at the other is shrinking rapidly - as reflected by the struggling Mondeo class.
And one last decision for Ford: with the new range so radically different, is it time to ditch the name? We hear that some within the firm may be pushing for the Mondeo badge to be dropped...
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