First introduced in 1993 as a replacement for the ailing Ford Sierra, the Mondeo was conceived of as a world car - to be sold in all markets in which Ford had a presence. While it didn't quite manage this goal, it did set about the task of taking the top family car spot back off the Vauxhall Cavalier - with 85% of the Cavalier's annual sales in just the last three months of 1993.
As the first car on sale in Europe with range-wide driver's side airbags, the Mk1 Mondeo captured 1994's European Car of the Year award and with the Escort and Fiesta helped take the top three model sales in the UK right through to 1997.
Along with a facelift, the Mondeo's image was helped along by a spell in the British Touring Car Championship - with Matt Neal taking the independents' title in 1995 and Ford drivers taking the top three slots in 2000 - and by the coining of the phrase "Mondeo Man" in political circles, intended to signify the average voter. Indeed Mondeo Man was treated to hot ST24 (167hp 2.5 V6) and ST200 (200hp 2.5 V6) models so he could drive to work on Monday in the cars he saw winning on Sunday...
With the Cavalier's replacement Vectra outselling the Mondeo in 1999, a new model arrived in 2000 taking "Edge" design cues from the incredibly successful Focus hatchback and immediately set about reversing the sales trend.
Despite Britain's motoring tastes becoming more continental (in the shape of the VW Golf and Peugeot 206), this generation of Mondeo was never outside the top 10 for UK sales until it was replaced in 2007 - by far the largest car so consistently amongst the top sellers. With the fastest Mondeo yet - the 225hp 3.0 V6 ST220 - and a runner's up spot in European Car of the Year, its popularity isn't hard to explain.
2007 saw the introduction of the biggest Mondeo yet (6 foot 10 across the mirrors!) and with it an unexpected spokesperson in the shape of Daniel Craig's James Bond - who drove a Mondeo around the Bahamas in Casino Royale. In 2008, this generation was runner-up in both the European and World Car of the Year awards.
Even though this, most recent Mondeo is far bigger and heavier than the first generation, the push for fuel efficiency sees it returning 20% better fuel economy than its 20 year old brother - topping out at 119g/km CO2 compared to the Mk1's 144g/km best. With the next generation due in 2014, sporting Ford's headline EcoBoost engine, this should improve yet further.
Entering its 21st year, the next generation also signals a change of direction for Ford as, with the Vignale concept, it seeks to attract a more premium buyer.
With 4.5 million sales across Europe and 1.4 million of them in the UK alone, the Mondeo has become one of Ford's enduring nameplates and we look forward to seeing what the world car can do over the next 20 years!
For more information check out our full summary of the Ford Mondeo alongside reviews, stats, photos and videos!