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Expert Reviews 1 of 5
By George Moore
June 19, 1997
The Ford Motor Co.'s vision of a world car will appear on the Indianapolis market this fall.In the form of the Mercury Mystique and its clone, the Ford Contour, the cars are a derivative of Ford of Europe's Mondeo and represent Ford's first global
product development program."I think you're going to see it (the Mystique) in late September or early October," said Jeff Roush, general manager of Tom Roush Lincoln-Mercury-Mazda. "It's going to be a big market."As a mid-sized four-door sedan,
the Mystique in GS and upscale LS form will be positioned between Mercury's Sable and Topaz models. It will be assembled in Ford plants at Kansas City, Mo., and Cuautitlan, Mexico.The 1995 Mystique fits into world markets, especially the U.S., where
its size and technical specifications fit American driving conditions.The Mystique is almost nine inches shorter than the Sable, but rides on a slightly longer wheelbase. In essence, the stretch is of the cabin-forward school of thought, with the hood
and cowl low and the wheels moved out toward the corners for a wider stance.The sedan is a traditional five-passenger four-door front-drive that offers two exotic engines and two new transmissions. A major step forward is under the hood in the form of
a 24-valve V-6 that requires nothing more than routine fluids and filters maintenance for 100,000 miles.Ford Vice President and Lincoln-Mercury Division general manager Keith Magee says this is the first time a low-maintenance engine has been offered
in anything other than a luxury car.Styling is pleasantly acceptable without being sensational. The lines are obviously aerodynamic, and the rounded, seamless shape has a co-efficient of drag of 0.31. That's about average for a new mid- sized
sedan.The interior styling and driver/passenger support systems are good. Individual front seats were developed from extensive research on comfort and convenience, and include four-way adjustable headrests and infinitely adjustable reclining seat
backs.There is plenty of front seat legroom at 42.4 inches, but things are a little closer in the rear with 34.3 inches.I don't know whether it's the European influence or just good design work. But controls for the headlights, power windows and
power door locks are lighted for nighttime driving, a really excellent safety factor and tremendous convenience.Lighted interior door handles are available, and when a door is opened a courtesy light shines down on the curb.Technically, the
Mystique brings into play a pair of engines, a pair of transmissions and a multilink rear suspension system designed to attract virtually any type of driver.In the powerplant department, a dual overhead cam, 2.0-liter (121 cubic inches), 16-valve
four-cylinder is offered. The engine is known in Europe as the Zetec.The second engine is an all-aluminum four-cam, four-valves-per-cylinder Duratec V-6 that displaces 2.5 liters (151 cubic inches). This is the latest addition to For
d's modular engine family, and the company says it's one of the smallest, lightest V-6s in the world.Horsepower ratings for the two motors are 125for the Zetec and 165 for the Duratec. The power spread provides drivers with a broad choice.Each
engine can be teamed with either an advanced five-speed manual gearbox or an all-new electronically controlled four-speed automatic. In five-speed form and a little over 2,800 pounds of curb weight, the V-6 is guaranteed to make the sedan a lively
proposition.This is further helped by Mystiques equipped with the Duratec system having their suspension tuned for a more sporting and handling feel, along with larger tires and four-wheel disc brakes.Market research indicates that primary
customers will be young families and couples. Roush estimates an entry-level base price of about $13,000."I'm going to guess that the way people want to buy them, they will run about $15,000," he said. "That will give you a nicely equipped car."I
o think it's going to be a big lease car, something in the $200 to $250 (per month) range. And that will serve someone who wants a second car to drive back and forth to work."