Although an official picture was published at the end of 1992, with a mention in the Auto Car magazine on 2 December 1992, which showed pictures and details of Ford's future in the fiercely competitive large family car sector, The Mondeo was launched on 8 January 1993, and sales began on 22 March 1993. Available as a four-door saloon, a five-door hatchback, and a five-door estate, all models were produced at Ford's plant in the Belgian city of Genk. The Sierra had been built there since its launch in 1982, although until 1989, right hand drive Sierras had also been built in UK at the Dagenham plant.
Intended as a world car, it replaced the Ford Sierra in Europe, the Ford Telstar in a large portion of Asia and other markets, while the Contour and Mercury Mystique replaced the Ford Tempo and Mercury Topaz in North America. Unlike the Sierra, the Mondeo is front-wheel drive in its most common form, with a rarer four-wheel drive version available on the Mk1 car only. Instigated in 1986, the design of the car cost Ford US$6 billion. It was one of the most expensive new car programs ever. The Mondeo was significant as its design and marketing was shared between Ford USA in Dearborn, and Ford of Europe. Its codename while under development reflected thus: CDW27 signified that it straddled the C & D size classes and was a "World Car".