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1996 Mercury Mystique Overview
Ford's latest experiment with the "World Car" concept is in its second year now, after receiving mixed reviews and selling at a lower pace than Ford might have wished during its first season. Called Mondeo throughout much of the world, the compact sedan carries either Mercury Mystique or Ford Contour badges here. How different is Ford's World Car from, for example, a Japanese-designed Toyota Camry that's built in the U.S out of Japanese and American-sourced parts? In concept, not very; Mystique and Contour are mainstream cars for their class, and are assembled in the U.S. (and Mexico) with components sourced from around the world. Much the same can be said for other players on this field, from Honda's Accord to Nissan's Altima to the Chevrolet Cavalier and Pontiac Sunfire. The Chrysler compacts, Cirrus and Dodge Stratus, have more local design and hardware content than the others, and are assembled only in the U.S. But there are significant distinctions in execution. The biggest differences between the Ford compacts and their competitors are best described in the subjective area of "feel" Mystique and Contour have the road manners and performance of European cars, which, essentially, is what they are. Mystique and Contour are also Ford products, which means they are assembled and finished to a standard that matches--or exceeds--that of any of their competitors. The Blue Oval company has made great strides in this area over the past few years, and the hard work shows to advantage here.