The idea of a "would car" - a vehicle designed to serve markets from Detroit to Dublin - isn't new. Most major carmakers have tried their hand at this game at one time or another. And, to varying degrees, most have failed. But with consumer needs, tastes and concerns becoming increasingly uniform worldwide, the idea makes more sense now than ever before. Safety, fuel efficiency and environmentally clean operation are just as compelling in other major world markets as they are here. And American auto preferences in ride, handling and size are much closer to European standards than at any time in the past. That's the backdrop for the Ford Contour, an all-new car that already has a solid track record in Europe, and is now rolling into U.S. showrooms. The North American version has had a number of subtle adjustments to its exterior and suspension, but it's fundamentally the same car - a smaller midsize entry that's about the same size as a Honda Accord or Mazda 626. The Contour and its Mercury cousin, the Mystique, are nominal replacements for the Ford Tempo and Mercury Topaz. We say nominal, because they're more expensive and more modern - much better qualified to compete directly with popular Japanese cars such as the Accord, 626, Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry.
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