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Ford Contour combines sporty driving dynamics with the comfort and practicality of a four-door sedan. The Contour comes standard with a V6 engine. Ride and handling were improved last year. It doesn't have the rear-seat space of a Taurus, but Ford improved rear legroom two years ago and revised the styling.
Contour SVT pours on the coal with a higher output version of the Duratec V6, a sports suspension and bigger brakes.
With its powerful V6 engine and European-tuned suspension, the Ford Contour offers good acceleration and handling.
The 2.5-liter Duratec V6 puts out a spirited 170 horsepower, and develops maximum torque at relatively low engine revs. This gives it excellent off-the-line acceleration. Employing four valves per cylinder and double overhead cams, the Duratec V6 was engineered with the help of Porsche Engineering and Cosworth, which specializes in Ford racing engines. Maintenance is low. For the first 100,000 miles, you won't need to do have anything done but oil, fluid and filter changes.
The 5-speed manual gearbox works well and we prefer it. Most buyers, however, will opt for the 4-speed automatic, which offers quiet and smooth shifting.
Contour comes standard with 15-inch wheels and tires. Ride and handling were improved in 1999 with revisions to the front subframe and A-arm design, resulting in reduced friction and improved steering precision. It dampens vibration on rough, urban roads, yet maintains a spirited character when you slip out to the countryside. The Contour seems eager to challenge the highway. Body roll is subdued, steering is responsive and predictable. Still, handling response of the Contour Sport model is not as crisp as that of some of the newer models from Honda and Toyota.
Those who want high performance and responsive handling should consider the SVT Contour with its growling 200 horsepower V6. By smoothing airflow through the engine using a process called extrude honing, Ford's Special Vehicle Team has extracted 200 horsepower at 6600 rpm and 170 foot-pounds of torque at 5500.
The SVT Contour also includes some significant tweaks to the suspension along with special wheels and tires. Equipped with wet-dry performance B.F. Goodrich g-force 215/50ZR16 tires mounted on 16-inch cast aluminum-alloy wheels, the 2000 SVT Contour's lateral grip has been increased to 0.90g on a dry skid pad. SVT uses bigger vented front disc brakes from the European market Ford Mondeo ST200. ABS-equipped four-wheel vented disc brakes are capable of smooth and effective deceleration without significant fade or wheel lockup.
The Ford Contour comes standard with a powerful V6 engine, sporty handling and a comfortable interior. Its price tag makes it one of the segment's more affordable products, even if you load it up with options.
Ford has stopped making the Ford Contour and Mercury Mystique, so look for deep discounts as dealers sell down the 2000 models.