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Time was when Mercury provided buyers with up-scaled variants of Ford models. Then for some time it became a budget-priced performance brand in the Ford stable.

The Cougar, for example, was a not-altogether successful reinterpretation of the notch-back or convertible Mustang coupe. These days it's more concerned with being simply another strand of the Ford empire providing uninspiring cars to mainstream-minded drivers.

Using tried-and-tested parts to construct solid, reliable cars has paid dividends for Ford: the marque is really a consistent high scorer in owner satisfaction surveys.

A move from the marque's original home of Dearborn to Irving, California, is just just starting to have an effect on the products offered; this means more chrome compared to equivalent Ford product, although not as much as its stablemate high-end brand Lincoln.

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