Ford Contour is First Produced
The Ford Contour and its rebadged variant, the Mercury Mystique were compact 4-door sedans marketed from model years 1995-2000 by Ford Motor Company in North America.
The Contour and Mystique replaced the Ford Tempo and Mercury Topaz, were based on Ford's CDW27 platform, were manufactured at Ford's Kansas City Assembly and were derived from the first-generation globally marketed Ford Mondeo.
The Contour and Mystique ceased production without a direct replacement in Ford's lineup in USA and Canada, while in Mexico, Ford replaced the Contour and Mystique with a locally manufactured variant of the European Ford Mondeo. In addition, Ford stopped selling Mercury vehicles in Mexico from 2000-2003. The larger Ford Fusion was introduced in 2005 to replace the Contour in the United States and Canada, and the Ford Mondeo in Mexico, also falling between the compact Focus and mid-sized Taurus.
Development of the Contour, Mystique and the Mondeo in Europe was a major project for Ford Motor Company. Reportedly US$6 billion was invested in the development of the CDW27 platform. While the Mondeo has been afforded three body styles (4-door sedan, 5-door liftback and a station wagon), the North American variants were developed as sedans only. Despite external appearances and the original goal of being a world car, the only external items the Mondeo shared with the Contour were the windscreen, front windows, front mirrors and door handles. The interior was also slightly different, though the Ford Focus would be more successful as "one design for the world". Although the cars ended up slightly larger than the Tempo and Topaz, and the Mondeo was marketed as a family car in Europe, reviewers would judge the car too small for American tastes compared to Japanese product lines where Toyota's Camry was their next size up from compact cars.
Initially, three trim levels were available for the Contour a base GL, a more luxurious LX and a sporty SE trim. A 125 hp (93 kW), 2.0 L Zetec inline four-cylinder engine was standard on the GL and LX models, while a 170 hp 2.5 L Duratec V6 was standard on SE models and optional on the GL and LX models. A 5-speed manual transmission was standard on all models, with a 4-speed automatic as an option. Prices ranged from about USD 14,000 for base GL versions to just under USD 20,000 for an SE with all available options. However, in April 1996, Ford produced a "Sport" model in both the 2.0 L four-cylinder and 2.5 L V6. The "Sport" model was an option in both SE and GL series.
The Mystique was initially available in entry-level GS, LS both available with the "sport" option. A base model was also available from model year 1997 through 1999.
The Ford Contour was a car produced for the North American market between 1995 and 2000; it fit between the subcompact Ford Escort and the large Ford Taurus. It was essentially a slightly modified version of the European Ford Mondeo but did not match its sales success. There was also a Mercury version produced, the Mercury Mystique (sometimes derisively called the "Mercury Mistake;" those who criticized the Contour, in turn, called it the "Ford Detour").
The low-end engine available was a 2.0 L inline 4, which was standard equipment on the base, GL and more luxurious LX models. Available as an option on those, and standard on the sportier SE model, was a 2.5 L V6.
A higher-performance SVT model was introduced in 1998, utilizing the same V6 but tuned to produce an extra 25 hp (19 kW). Improvements to brakes, suspension, tires etc. worked with the extra power to produce quite the sporty package.
The base and GL models were dropped in 1998, and by 2000 only a Sport (a renamed SE) and, by special order, the SVT were available.
In 2001, the Ford Contour factory was converted to build the Ford Escape.
Many people believe the reason why the Contour and Mystique, which were seen by most buyers as a replacement for the Ford Tempo and Mercury Topaz, failed was because the cars' size was too close to the Ford Escort but its price was too close to the midsize Ford Taurus, several thousand dollars higher than the old models. This caused many people to pay a bit more for the larger Taurus, which was among the best-selling sedans in the U.S. at the time.
"World music" is a nebulous satellite radio genre that tends to feature a lot of pan flutes, maracas, bongos and those crazy Australian didgeridoo things. The term "world car" is far less exotic, applying to a vehicle like the Ford Contour that can be sold in multiple markets with only minor changes made to best appeal to folks in both France and Fresno. It's an idea that German manufacturers have quite successfully subscribed to for decades, but one that American automakers have avoided as much as radio listeners avoid world music. Nevertheless, to save money and benefit from the engineering expertise of their European subsidiaries, American brands have increasingly turned to world cars in recent years.
The Blue Oval's first modern whack at them was the Ford Contour sedan produced from 1995 to 2000. Designed by Ford's European division and known as the Mondeo across the pond, the Contour had a decidedly European feel to it thanks to its spirited performance, composed handling and aerodynamic styling.
However, with a body size that fell in between compact and midsize, the car was often criticized for its lack of backseat legroom. Ford tried to compensate for this almost every year the Contour was sold. Excess seat padding was removed and the rear bench was redesigned, but its dearth of space remained the Contour's Achilles' heel.
In 2000, the Ford Contour was discontinued and not replaced. Its Mondeo sibling lived on in Europe, however, and is now in its third generation. This stylish, quasi-sport sedan was even driven by James Bond in Casino Royale and positive reaction to it has prompted speculation that it may eventually show up in the United States. Ford's "world car" Contour may soon live again.
Manufacturer Ford Motor Company
Also called Mercury Mystique
Assembly Claycomo, Missouri, US
Predecessor Ford Tempo
Successor Ford Mondeo (Mexico)
Body style(s) 4-door sedan
Layout FF layout
Platform Ford CDW27 platform
Engine(s) 2.0 L Zetec I4
2.5 L Duratec V6
Transmission(s) 5-speed MTX-75 manual
4-speed CD4E automatic
Wheelbase 106.5 in (2705 mm)
Length 185.3 in (4707 mm)
183.9 in (4671 mm) (SVT & 1995-97)
1995-97 Mystique: 183.5 in (4661 mm)
1998-2000 Mystique: 184.8 in (4695 mm)
Width 69.1 in (1755 mm)
Height 54.4 in (1382 mm)
54.5 in (1384 mm) (Mystique, SVT & 1995-97)
Related Ford Mondeo
Mercury Cougar, Ford Cougar