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What Exactly Is a World Car? I Traveled Across the Sea to Find Out

When you hear car manufacturers use the term “world car,” they’re referring to cars that are designed using a global platform and can be sold in different countries with few changes. World cars also help car manufacturers cut down on production and engineering costs. Even though features and options may be a little different depending on the country sold, the cars are practically alike.

On a recent trip to Ireland, I had the opportunity to rent a 2017 Ford Mondeo. If the Mondeo name doesn’t sound familiar to you, that’s because we know it as the Ford Fusion on this side of the pond. In fact, the word Mondeo comes from the Latin word “mundus,” meaning world. When I first looked at the car, the Mondeo didn’t look that much different from a Fusion. However, looks can be deceiving. For starters, once I walked around to the back of the car and clicked the remote to open the trunk, I was surprised to learn that our rental was actually a hatchback. This body style isn’t offered in the United States. That’s a shame, because loading large roller suitcases into the back of the car is so much easier with the hatchback.

Once you climb behind the wheel and push the start button, one of the first things you notice is that the instrumentation is quite different. For starters, distance is measured in kilometers, and temperature is measured in Celsius. Also, the trip computer measures in kilometers per liter instead of miles per gallon. Our rental was devoid of safety equipment, like a rear view camera and lane-departure warning. These features would’ve been really handy, since I’ve never driven a right-hand-drive vehicle before.

Under the hood, our rental was equipped with a diesel engine mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. Neither of these options is currently available in the United States. That’s too bad, because I averaged 20 kilometers per liter, or 47.25 mpg, with this combination. That’s huge, especially when considering that this is a midsize car.

Overall, the experience of driving on the left-hand side of the road was a bit like learning to drive all over again. It brought back memories of the first time I climbed behind the wheel. It was also interesting getting to see how the Mondeo compares to our Fusion. It gave me a first hand look at what truly makes a world car.

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