Fords long-awaited replacement to the Tempo, the four-door Contour was created as a globally focused mid-sized car for the automaker. Known as the Mondeo in European countries, the Ford Contour entered North America in 1995. For the 1998 model year, the Ford Contour received several refinements. All 1998 models received a new front end complete with an enlarged oval grille and reshaped headlights. In base, LX and SE trim levels, standard features for the Contour sedan included dual airbags, air conditioning as well as remote trunk release. Base propulsion came from a 2.0-liter Zetec four-cylinder engine generating 125 horsepower moved the 1998 Ford Contour.
LX and SE variants were available with a more robust 170-horsepower, 2.5-liter V-6 engine. Five-speed manual and four-speed automatic transmission choices were offered on the Contour line-up for 1998. A new addition to the 1998 Contour range came courtesy of Fords Special Vehicle Team (SVT). Providing a welcomed level of performance to the mid-sized sedan, the Ford Contour SVT was the recipient of Duratec V-6 engine producing 195 horsepower in 1998 (increased to 200 horsepower for 1999 and 2000). The SVT models Duratec engine was combined with a five-speed manual transmission in delivering performance numbers such as 7.5-second launches from 0 to 60 miles per hour.
The Contour SVT model also sported unique lower bodywork, special SVT seats, retuned suspension and Goodyear Eagle tires mounted around 16-inch five-spoke aluminum wheels. In 1999, the base four-cylinder engine of the Ford Contour received a mild five horsepower power boost. The Contour was pulled from the North American line-up for Ford after the 2000 model year.