FORD Contour

LOOKS . Windshaped
HANDLING . Athletic
COMFORT . Confined
QUALITY . Superficial
STEREO . Solid
FUN TO DRIVE . Willing
HEADS TURNED . Pump Wearers
EMOTION . Faithful
CACHET . Surpriser


Sticker . $19,060
Power . 165 horsepower
0 to 60 . 8 to 9 sec.
Test Mileage . 22.9 mpg
Seating . 5
Trunk . 13.9 cubic feet
Parking . Slinky


The Contour is the latest of Ford's "World Cars" a concept of global design and execution that never seems to work as well as one would expect. In the case of the Contour, simultaneously developed for marketing in England, Europe and the USA, we come to a very interesting package, more to European tastes than one would expect in an essentially mainstream family model in the States. This is good news.

The contour is blessed with an ultra-modern, low maintenance, low emissions Quad cam V6 that loves to run. This delightful motor in concert with a neat 5 speed makes for an engaging afternoon in the switch backs. A sweet runner. The balance is taut and trim and the tires are about a yard wide so the Contour is a cat in the corners and a swift stopper when the brakes need be popped. Road manners in best British sport sedan manner. Well done. The driving is all to the good on this one.

Once we stop sweating and slow down a little we can contemplate the inter sanctum. Regrettably, the cabin is not penned to American dimensions. The front is best described as close; and the back seat, not suited to full size adults. Tsk, tsk, why one must suffer with the dowdy lines of a sedan while experiencing the discomfort a sporty coupe is a question that begs and bugs. The overall packaging represents a bad compromise that one must live with everyday.

Oh, things are nice enough in there. The curvy, tomorrow lines of the dash are interesting and the finish and materials, decent, if not class leading in any regard. The reasonably priced upgrade stereo has a strong sound. A positive side of the World Car legacy is an overall environmental approach that means many recycled materials are utilized to build the Contour and that both the production process and eventual recycling of the entire car have been considered. This is a significant advance, that may not get the attention it deserves.

So there we have it. A rather pedestrian transporter that is tight on the fanny, but sings in the twisties.