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Cars: Twenty years of Mondeo man

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Simon Staplehurst, research manager at Sewells, looks at driver perception of the new Mondeo.

It’s hard to believe that almost two decades have passed since Tony Blair shared the ‘Mondeo Man’ story in his mid-90s campaign which took Labour to victory in the 1997 General Election. Even harder to believe is the Mondeo has only been replaced twice since then, with new generations appearing in 2000 and 2006, each more premium than the last.

The fifth generation, due in the UK in 2015, faces fierce competition from German super-brands, with the likes of BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz attempting to cover ever letter and number with a model. Yet, half of those who usually consider lower, upper and executive cars in Sewells User Chooser Barometer (UCB) survey said they would definitely or be likely to consider the Ford Mondeo as their first choice for their next company car.

The fifth generation Mondeo will be available from the end of 2014 with Ford’s range of ultra-economical EcoBoost engines and, for the first time in the UK, a hybrid petrol-electric option. It is also packed with a host of new technology, including Ford’s SYNC 2 Infotainment system and Active Park Technology, which can automatically place the car in and out of tight spaces.

The model entered popular culture in 1996 when Tony Blair used the phrase ‘Mondeo Man’ to describe an affluent generation of home and car owners. The term appeared in his party address when he recited a recent conversation with a self-employed electrician who had turned ‘into a Tory’ now he was doing well in life.

Today, those ‘doing well in life’ are often perceived to demand the offerings of premium brands. Indeed, Sewells Fleet Operator Attitude Survey revealed earlier this year that almost half of company car drivers are ‘badge snobs’, however Ford ranked second most desirable, only losing out to BMW.

Introduced in 1992 as the replacement the Ford Sierra, the Mondeo became known as one of the major aspirational models, winning multiple awards including Now Magazine’s ‘Most Attractive Car for a Man to Drive award’ in 2012. ‘Mondeo Man’ is still, to this very day, recognised by the Collins English Dictionary as a definition of a middle-class man.

With the General Election nearing and the new model due imminently, it will be interesting to see how the next generation of Mondeo men buy (and vote) twenty years on from that famous party address.

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