‘We used smart engineering and modern technologies in the all-new Mercury Montego to create a confident, reassuring driving experience. With any of the powertrain combinations, you feel smooth acceleration, confident cornering on nearly any type of surface and firm, predictable braking, with quiet, responsive performance. You are free to enjoy the comfortable surroundings and unique Mercury environment.’
– Jan Vulcan, Chief Nameplate Engineer
Chassis, Powertrain Offer New Levels of Refinement
Engineers drew on best practices from throughout Ford Motor Company to craft the confident ride and handling that define the new Mercury Montego sedan.
By tailoring a Volvo-designed chassis to match Ford’s proven, a further refined Duratec 30 V-6 engine and an all-new, continuously variable transmission, Montego’s design team crafted an engaging and rewarding driving experience that will surprise and delight customers throughout North America.
Montego was engineered using the latest computer-aided design tools, and it incorporates new, powerful onboard electronics to achieve its performance and efficiency goals. Although final fuel economy numbers won’t be available until closer to the launch date, the all-new Mercury Montego is expected to be among the most efficient in its class.
Among Montego’s features are:
* An all-new, continuously variable transmission – marking the auto industry’s highest-volume CVT application. It enhances fuel efficiency while providing smooth, stepless operation
* An all-new six-speed automatic transmission that offers a wider gear ratio span than competing four- or five-speed designs, resulting in better acceleration and fuel efficiency
* An improved Duratec 30 3.0-liter V-6 engine, complete with electronic throttle control and delivering 200 horsepower and 200 foot-pounds of torque with less unwanted noise and vibration. Combined with Montego’s new wide-ratio transmissions, the Duratec engine delivers acceleration that is among the best in its class.
* Available all-wheel drive and traction control that enhance grip on all road surfaces
* A sophisticated chassis design, inspired by Volvo, that offers high torsional stiffness for crisp handling and a smooth ride
* Dual-piston cast-aluminum front calipers that contribute to confident braking
New Transmissions Marry Economy, Performance
The new CVT will be standard on all-wheel-drive Montego Luxury and Premier series, helping make Ford Motor Company the industry’s volume leader in CVTs.
CVTs offer several key advantages over traditional ‘step’ automatics, including improved fuel economy and an enhanced feeling of performance.
Both of these advantages stem from the CVT’s wider ratio span – the difference between the transmission’s highest and lowest gear ratios. Montego’s CVT has an overall ratio of more than 6-to-1. That compares to 4-to-1 for a typical automatic.
The lowest gear ratio – the equivalent of first gear on a conventional step transmission – multiplies engine torque to launch the vehicle from a standing start, ensuring stronger, off-the-line acceleration that will delight drivers.
The highest gear ratio – equivalent to the top gear on a conventional automatic – is used primarily for cruising at steady speeds, maximizing fuel economy. The CVT is expected to deliver up to 8 percent better mileage than a conventional four-speed automatic.
The CVT also allows the Montego’s efficient V-6 engine to deliver V-8-like performance because it precisely matches gear ratio to engine speed to answer the demands of quick acceleration, a steep hill or other loads.
‘The beauty of a CVT is that no matter what speed you’re driving, it will always seek out optimal torque,’ said Ray Nicosia, manager, vehicle engineering for Ford’s North American cars and family vehicles. ‘That’s why it feels so responsive.’
The new ZF-Batavia CVT also is designed for ease of ownership. Maintenance recommended at 60,000 miles includes draining and refilling the transmission fluid – no filter change is necessary, and under normal use the drive belt is good for the life of the vehicle.
Montego’s more conventional Aisin AW six-speed automatic transmission produces similar results. It offers a nearly identical overall ratio span to the CVT, and its electronic controls allow the unit to ‘learn’ from the driver, adapting its shift points to optimize performance or fuel economy.
As a fuel-saving measure during city driving, the neutral idle speed activates while the transmission is in Drive and the vehicle is stopped. When the transmission selector is in Low range, the controller enables engine braking to assist with hill descents or other demands.
The six-speed transmission also is relatively maintenance free, with fluid that is rated for 10 years/150,000 miles.
Faster, Smarter Electronics
The Montego’s high level of performance is made possible in part by new powertrain electronics. The new Black Oak controller uses PowerPC machine language and floating-point calculations to perform more tasks more quickly. Transmitted along an information highway called a Conrolled Area Network, it monitors data from all the vehicle’s sensors and reacts accordingly.
Powertrain engineers took advantage of this capability and design a special calibration for times that CVT-equipped vehicles drive downhill. The system detects that the vehicle is on a descending grade and adjusts engine speed and transmission ratio to hold a steady speed. And like most powertrain functions, this is entirely seamless to the driver.
This type of calibration, as well as design of the accelerator pedal components, provides the familiar feel and response of a traditional mechanical throttle linkage while offering the precise performance advantages of electronic throttle control.
Confidence-Building All-Wheel Drive
Mercury Montego’s optional electronically controlled all-wheel-drive system delivers optimum performance whether on dry, wet or snow-covered roads – or traversing mud or sand.
Normally, the Montego functions in front-drive mode only. But like the vehicle’s other electronic components, the controller continuously monitors information flow along the Controlled Area Network (CAN) bus to determine whether AWD operation is needed. It can react within 50 milliseconds to distribute virtually all of the available torque to the open rear differential.
‘Volvo’s AWD technology was a great enabler for us because it is much more difficult to package all-wheel drive in a passenger car than in an sport utility vehicle or a truck,’ said Phil Kurrle, design and release supervisor for car powertrain subsystems. ‘Through Volvo’s leadership, we now have access to lightweight and compact all-wheel-drive components that have proved their reliability beyond question.’
More than 90 percent of the all-wheel-drive components are common to the Volvo system.
The Brains Behind Montego’s AWD
The Swedish-built Haldex coupler works through a combination of hydraulic and electro-hydraulic activation of its internal clutch pack.
When the vehicle is in motion, the drive shaft is in motion as well, driven by the CVT-mounted power transfer unit. If the drive shaft turns more quickly than the output shaft at the rear of the Haldex, oil flow is generated, which produces hydraulic pressure in the Haldex coupling.
This increased hydraulic pressure pushes the clutch plates together, transmitting drive shaft torque through the Haldex unit to the rear wheels.
Because a mechanical pump creates a natural pulsing pressure, the Haldex system incorporates three pistons designed to operate out of phase with each other, evening out pressure waves for seamless, smooth actuation. This is another example of the way Montego engineers used technology to achieve a refined driving experience.
The Haldex unit also includes an electro-hydraulic pump that offers still another advantage. If the electronic controller senses impending wheel slip, it can use pressure from the pump to pre-load the clutch pack, causing it to engage more quickly. This, too, contributes to a more seamless, smoother performance.
‘It works very quickly,’ Kurrle said. ‘Within about one-seventh of a turn of the front wheels spinning, the rear is getting power.’
The system releases just as quickly, avoiding binding or wheel skid once traction improves.
An optional traction control system – standard with all-wheel-drive – allows progressive braking to be applied to each wheel within 100-150 milliseconds of the onset of wheel slip. This precise braking adds side-to-side torque transfer capability.
‘With the two systems working together, you can send torque to the individual wheels that have traction,’ Kurrle said.
Traction – No Matter What
The CVT adds its own strengths to the all-wheel-drive system. Because it offers such a broad gear ratio range, and automatically optimizes engine torque, the all-wheel-drive system always has plenty of torque to plow through deep snow, mud, sand or other challenging conditions.
Traction control adds more security to the driving experience by reducing engine power or selectively braking the spinning wheel as needed to enhance steering response.
‘Controllability and stability are important considerations in the way we designed this system,’ Kurrle said.
Duratec 30 Even More Refined
Ford’s proven, highly efficient, 3.0-liter, 24-valve Duratec 30 V-6 serves as an ideal match for the Montego’s new CVT powertrain.
In addition to delivering excellent fuel economy for a vehicle of this size, the improved Duratec 30 V-6 also provides Montego with outstanding emissions performance.
‘Our emissions level will meet the federal Tier II, Bin 5 definition, which is equivalent to the California LEV II standard,’ said Kim Jackson, powertrain supervisor. ‘In particular, the vehicle will have very low evaporative emissions. They are just 25 percent of the current allowable federal standards.’
This is achieved using less-permeable materials in the fuel system, new charcoal canister technology to capture evaporative emissions and upgraded fuel system and vapor line connectors, which reduce the amount of gases that escape. An onboard vapor recovery system captures gasoline fumes during fill-up and routes them to the engine to be burned.
Noise, vibration and harshness have been reduced in the Duratec 30, as well.
Computer technology helped engineers design a new dual-mass, dual-mode frequency damper that mounts to the crankshaft at the engine’s front end. It reduces both torsional and bending vibrations that could produce noise.
Computer optimization also was used to create the complex shape of the front engine cover, which features ‘constrained layer damping.’ This sandwich of materials absorbs frequencies that might otherwise generate unwanted noise at the front of the engine.
Other engine NVH actions include:
* Application of the industry’s first direct-drive water pump
* Use of optimized mounts, including two hydromounts for the engine and two roll-restrictor mounts for the transmission, for improved system stiffness
* Use of quieter magnesium cam covers that don’t resonate high-frequency sound
* Designed-in main bearing clearances that are 6-8 microns (millionths of a meter) tighter for reduced vibration
* Application of an integrated air-fuel module with extensive ribbing for stiffness
* Incorporation of a resonator in the mass-flow induction system to reduce intake sound at key frequencies
The engine will be manufactured in Ford’s newly remodeled, state-of-the-art Cleveland Engine Plant.
Less Maintenance for Owners to Worry About
Montego’s powertrain was developed to be low-maintenance, as well as smooth and quiet. For durability and ease of maintenance, Montego employs platinum-tipped spark plugs, a coil-on-plug ignition and plug wires rated for 100,000 miles of normal use. The six-speed automatic transmission can go 100,000 miles without a fluid change, and the CVT is good for 60,000 miles before requiring routine maintenance.
Suspension Yields Exceptional Ride, Handling
The suspension design for the all-new Mercury Montego was adapted from a Volvo platform and was optimized using computer-aided engineering. This proven design offers exceptional tune-ability, allowing engineers to tailor the ride for Mercury. It also brings a high degree of manufacturability – its modular design is proving to be a good fit with Ford’s new flexible operations at the Chicago Assembly Plant.
The multi-link, independent rear suspension assembly is on a stout, U-shaped welded-steel subframe that offers the same stiffness and performance as the cast-aluminum Volvo subframe. Its resistance to shaking, bending and other movement under road impact allows shock absorbers, springs and bushings to do their jobs better.
‘Stiffness is a big player in ride and handling,’ Nicosia said.
The rear suspension plays a critical role in steering feel and overall chassis response.
During heavy braking, it is designed to ‘dial in’ a bit of toe-in, which enhances steering stability. Applying this precise but forgiving design to the rear reinforces the driver’s feeling of control, whatever the circumstance.
For additional chassis stiffness in the all-wheel-drive platform, which carries the additional load of a rear differential, the engineering team added a small lateral brace that joins the two sides of the subframe.
Bushings Soften Ride
The attention to ride and handling is evident in the rear suspension, which uses 30 different bushings – each designed for its specific task – and one ball joint located at the point where the upper control arm meets the aluminum suspension knuckle.
‘With suspension geometrically optimized, one area where you can really improve ride and handling – and customer satisfaction – is through bushings,’ Nicosia said. ‘Computer analysis helps us determine the characteristics we want from each bushing, and new manufacturing techniques let us achieve these characteristics.’
In all-wheel-drive models, the rear subframe is joined to the chassis by four isolated mounts to prevent vibrations from reaching occupants. Structurally strong, shear-style brackets provide crash strength and stiffness.
Front-wheel-drive versions of the rear subframe are hard-mounted to the body.
Self-Leveling Shocks Even Out Ride
Unique to all-wheel-drive versions of the Mercury Montego are the Nivomat rear shocks from Sachs. These provide load leveling without a host of moving parts. Internal shock valving senses ride height and uses energy from the vehicle’s motion to increase hydraulic pressure and raise the shock to the desired ride level.
In a typical scenario, heavy luggage or golf bags are loaded into the Montego’s trunk, pushing the rear of the vehicle down slightly. As the car is driven, the shocks quickly ‘pump up’ to the necessary pressure, and the Montego’s original ride level is restored – all in about the time it takes to leave the parking lot.
The system ensures that if the sedan is ever taken off pavement with a fully loaded trunk, it will maintain optimal ride height. The all-wheel-drive sedans ride almost an inch higher than
Front Suspension Irons Out Bumps
The front suspension uses MacPherson struts with a rearward-facing L-arm.
‘This design is important for a couple of reasons,’ Nicosia said. ‘It gives you the maximum amount of room in front of the suspension to manage crash energy. It also gives you the ability to tune the front suspension for responsive steering and a smooth, comfortable ride.’
As with the rear suspension, individually tuned bushings play a critical role. Final bushing rates were arrived at through a combination of CAE modeling and real-world ride testing.
Montego offers generous total suspension travel – 3.5 inches of jounce, or compression, travel, and 4 inches of rebound travel.
‘That amount of suspension travel lets you tune the shocks a little bit more,’ Nicosia said. ‘You can create a more absorptive ride travel, for a more comfortable ride.’
Tires Match Vehicle Attributes
Tires are an important component in tuning ride and handling. Seventeen-inch wheels with P215/60R17 Continental tires are standard on the Mercury Montego Luxury series; 18-inch wheels and P225/55R18 Pirelli tires are standard on the Premier.
The 17-inch tires are designed to offer a blend of ride comfort, quiet operation, plush rolling feel and precise steering response. The 18-inch Pirellis provide a bit more steering feel and a sportier ride, without excessive noise or harshness.
Both also offer solid performance in rain and snow.
Steering Improves Driver Confidence
The rack-and-pinion steering system is tuned for relatively light effort and reasonably quick response with a steering ratio near 16-to-1.
‘You don’t have to turn the wheel very far to go around a tight corner in the city,’ Nicosia said. ‘About 180 degrees of movement is all you will normally ever need, even for tight turns. This helps reduce driver fatigue because you’re not constantly cranking the steering wheel.’
Steering effort also is important.
‘People like a steering feel that builds up in a linear fashion as you turn the wheel,’ Nicosia said. ‘That helps you judge where you’re at when the wheels come back to center. You always want the steering wheel to generate some response – for example, in on-center steering you should get steering response before you move the steering wheel 5 degrees. But it shouldn’t be so touchy that it’s hard to drive in a straight line.’
The torsionally stiff steering column improves both steering response, and the ‘feel’ of the steering wheel by reducing vibration, and it promotes a feeling of confidence for the driver.
‘When people feel like the vehicle is reacting intuitively to what they want it to do, it adds to their ability to enjoy the driving experience,’ Nicosia said.
Braking feel and response are crucial to the confident driving experience that engineers sought for Montego. They achieved this by maximizing the size of the four-wheel-disc brake rotors, using dual-piston aluminum calipers on the front brakes, selecting high-friction brake pad materials and fine-tuning the brake system components.
The standard antilock braking system improves performance on slippery surfaces, and electronic brake force distribution continuously optimizes balance between the front and rear brakes across a range of road surfaces and vehicle load conditions.
New Brake Pads: More Friction, Less Dust
One of the team’s first collaborative projects was to help develop a new Ford standard for brake pad performance.
Pad material directly affects braking feel and performance. Until recently, the quest for shorter stopping distances and superb feedback meant accepting
dirty wheels because of high levels of brake dust associated with high-friction
Montego takes advantage of new low-metallic pad materials’ high-mu levels – ‘engineer speak’ for high friction – to achieve strong, reassuring brake performance, while generating far less dust than other pads with comparable friction.
New Front Calipers for Quicker Response
The front brake calipers are made from cast aluminum and use two pistons on each wheel – a common feature in high-performance and sports cars.
The aluminum calipers weigh 10.8 pounds than less comparable cast-iron single-piston calipers. In addition, they deliver the stopping benefits of the dual 45 mm pistons and heat-shedding properties of aluminum.
Spreading the braking force over two pistons promotes even wear of the lining and rotor, enhancing durability and reducing vibration.
There’s a dynamics benefit, too.
‘By using two smaller pistons, we achieve more precise control of the piston movement,’ said Joe Kurcz, braking supervisor. ‘We can to keep the brake pads closer to the rotors when they are not in use. That means there’s less brake pedal travel before you feel the initial bite of the pads against the rotor. This improves braking feel and driver confidence.’
Because only a small protective rubber piston ‘boot’ is required, pistons don’t pull away as much from the rotor when the brake is released, allowing the pads to remain closer to the rotor for quicker activation when braking is needed. To ensure that the brakes retain their feel and performance during repeated, hard stopping, the brake pistons use a combination of phenolic coating – which helps prevent heat transfer to the brake fluid – and stainless steel. Most of the heat generated during braking is absorbed by the rotors and dissipated.
The parking brake is integral to the rear caliper, rather than using a separate parking brake drum. The parking brake cable actuates a ball-and-ramp cam in the rear brake that mechanically applies the brake pads.
Large Wheels Mean Larger Rotors
The 17-inch standard wheels on the Montego allowed brake engineers to specify a large rotor size. The front brake discs are 315 mm (12.4 in.) in diameter by 28 mm (1.1 in.) thick. The rear brake discs are slightly larger – 330 mm (13 in.) in diameter by 11 mm (0.43 in.) thick.
The large front rotors offer 408 cm2 (63.3 in.2) of swept braking area. The rear rotors have 380 cm2 (58.8 in.2) of swept area.
Improved Brake Pedal Feel
Total system stiffness and a reduction in wasted pedal travel are important to achieving a premium, confident braking feel.
‘We made a breakthrough on the overall pedal stiffness,’ Kurcz said. ‘We compared pedal force versus deflection in the best vehicles on the market. Based on our findings, we made significant increases in stiffness within the brake pedal assembly, that directly relates to improved pedal feel.’
One particularly important vehicle design element that also helped brake system engineers achieve the ‘feel’ they wanted was the Montego’s very stiff dash panel.
‘Since the brake pedal assembly attaches to the dash panel, the reduced flex in this critical area results in reduced pedal travel at any given brake force, a direct improvement to pedal feel and braking confidence,’ Kurcz said.
Another key to achieving the right braking feel was reducing ‘lash’ or wasted movement in the system. The team tightened up several tolerances, including the actuating rod in the master cylinder and bushings in the brake linkage.
Braking force also often is wasted in the flexible brake lines. The Montego addresses this through use of a premium material that minimally expands under pressure.
A number of tests helped engineers achieve the results they wanted. One repeatedly measured pedal travel and pedal force performance at up to 0.7 g of deceleration – the equivalent of a very firm stop in traffic.
‘We also do what we call the gorilla stomp test. We hit the brake pedal with 350 pounds of force, and there can be no permanent pedal deflection, no permanent damage to any of the parts,’ Kurcz said. ‘People rarely use the full braking power that’s available. With Montego, you can really stand on the brakes with confidence, if you have to.’
Price this car:
MSRP: $24,365 – $28,590
Invoice: $22,424 – $26,226
Source: Mercury Press Release