The fourth-generation Cortina was a more conventional design than its predecessor, and this was largely appreciated by fleet buyers.

Generally, it was a rebody of the Mark III with little mechanical change as an integration of Ford's model range, and as a result, the Cortina and Taunus now differed only in badging. Although the updated Taunus was introduced to Continental Europe in January 1976, Ford were able to continue selling the Cortina Mark III in undiminished numbers in the UK until they were ready to launch its successor as the Dagenham-built Cortina Mark IV, which went on sale on 29 September 1976.

Many parts were carried over, most notably the running gear. The raised driving position and the new instrument panel had, along with some of the suspension upgrades, already been introduced to the Cortina Mark III in 1975, so that from the driving position, the new car looked much more familiar to owners of recent existing Cortinas than from the outside.

Cinema audiences saw the new Cortina (or Taunus) chasing James Bond in his Lotus Esprit in the 1977 film The Spy Who Loved Me.

The most obvious change was the new, squarer body in line with contemporary "folded paper" fashion of the time (which nevertheless retained a very subtle "Coke-bottle" belt line as a reference to the Mk III), which achieved the marketing department objective of larger windows giving a better view out and a brighter feel to the cabin, but at the expense of body weight, which was increased, albeit only marginally, by about 30 lb (14 kg).

Ford claimed an overall increase in window area of some 15%, with "40% better visibility" through the wider, deeper back window.

Regardless of how these figures were computed, substantial weight-saving gains must have been made through reduced steel usage in the design, given the unavoidable extra weight of glass.

This series spawned the first Ghia top-of-the-range model, which replaced the 2000E. The 2.3-litre Ford Cologne V6 engine was introduced in 1977 as an engine above the 2.0-litre Pinto engine, already a staple of the Capri and Granada ranges.

However, 2.3-litre Cortinas never sold particularly well in the UK. The Cologne V6 was certainly a much smoother and more refined power unit than the Pinto, but the V6 models were more expensive to fuel and insure, and were only slightly faster, being about 0.5 seconds faster from 0–60 and having a top speed of about 109 mph compared to the 104 mph of the 2.0-litre models.

The 2.0-litre Cologne V6 engine continued to be offered on Taunus-badged cars in parallel with the Pinto unit, and offers here an interesting comparison with the similarly sized in-line four-cylinder Pinto engine.

The V6 with a lower compression ratio offered less power and less performance, needing over an extra second to reach 50 mph (80 km/h).

It did, however, consume 12½% less fuel and was considered by motor journalists to be a far quieter and smoother unit.

The 2.3-litre was available to the GL, S, and Ghia variants. A 1.6-litre Ghia option was also introduced at the same time as the 2.3-litre V6 models in response to private and fleet buyers who wanted Ghia refinements with the improved fuel economy of the smaller 1.6-litre Pinto engine. Few cars were sold with the 1.6-litre engine, though; the 2.0-litre Pinto was always by far the most common engine option for Ghia models.

Two-door and four-door saloons and a five-door estate were offered with all other engines being carried over. At launch, though, only 1.3-litre-engined cars could be ordered in the UK with the two-door body, and then only with "standard" or "L" equipment packages.[11] In practice, relatively few two-door Mark IV Cortinas were sold. In some markets, the two-door saloon was marketed as a coupe, but this was not the case in Britain. Ford already competed in the coupe sector in Europe with the Capri, which was particularly successful on the British market.

A choice of base, L, GL, S (for Sport) and Ghia trims was available, again not universal to all engines and body styles. Rostyle wheels were fitted as standard to all Mark IV GL, S, and Ghia models, with alloy wheels available as an extra-cost option. The dashboard was carried over intact from the last of the Mark III Cortinas, while the estate used the rear body pressings of the previous 1970-release Taunus.

Despite its status as Britain's best-selling car throughout its production run, the Mark IV is now the rarest Cortina, with poor rustproofing and the model's popularity with banger racers cited as being the main reasons for its demise. Particularly scarce are the 2.0 and 2.3S models, which were discontinued when the Mark V was introduced in August 1979.

Ford Australia built its own version, known as the TE, with the 2.0-litre Inline-four engine Pinto unit and the Falcon's 3.3-litre and 4.1-litre straight-six engine.The six-cylinder versions were rather nose heavy and did not handle as well as the fours or the European V6 models.

Interior door hardware and steering columns were shared with the Falcons, and the Australian versions also had their own instrument clusters, optional air conditioning, and much larger bumpers. They also had side indicators. The Cortina wagon was assembled by Renault Australia at its plant in Heidelberg in Victoria.

A considerable number were exported to New Zealand under a free-trade agreement where they were sold alongside locally assembled models similar to those available in the UK.

In South Africa, the Mark IV was built with the Kent 1.6-litre and the 3.0-litre Essex V6. Beginning in mid-1978, the Cologne-built 2.0-litre Pinto four also became available in place of the old Essex V4.[41] They were sold as L (1600), GL (2000), and Ghia (V6) with four-door saloon or estate bodywork.


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