MONDEO Man is moving up in the world with an all-new model that is good enough to propel Ford into BMW territory.
The latest edition of Ford's fleet and family favourite is not only bigger and better in every department but also features a line up of improved engines including Ford's first hybrid in Britain.
Priced from £20,795 the new Mondeo costs only a few hundred pounds more than before and most will be around £25,000 including some added extras.
It's the fifth generation of the car which gave Ford a Car of the Year award when the original arrived back in 1992 and since then the Mondeo has gone on to clock up more than 1.1 million sales in the UK with most as company cars.
As such it needs to be business friendly and that means low emissions to keep tax charges to a minimum.
Initially it is the hybrid which will be leading the charge with a CO2 figure of 99g/km costing 20 per cent tax payers £49.88 per month.
Later in the year more frugal ECOnetic diesels will join the range and these will reduce emissions to 94g/km which translates into an official fuel return of 78.5mpg.
The mainstream models feature 1.6 or 2.0-litre diesels - built at Ford's Dagenham engine plant - with power outputs ranging from 115 to 180ps and even that one is officially rated at more than 60 to the gallon.
Such economy is good enough to help the Mondeo claw back some of the territory it has lost in recent years as Ford transferred production of the new model from Belgium to Spain, stalling its arrival.
The new Mondeo is almost four inches longer than the previous version and it looks a big car, set off with a large front grille.
Inside, it is spacious and luggage capacity on the hatchback version is a huge 550 litres, bigger than that of the estate.
It also heralds some technological firsts for Ford including pedestrian detection as part of the anti-collision systems, LED headlamps and inflatable rear seatbelts which house a mini airbag inside the webbing.
Those are options but the likes of sat nav, lane departure and traffic sign recognition systems are standard on Titanium grade cars which are priced from £22,245.
All versions are well equipped and come with eight-inch colour touchscreens, digital radios, Bluetooth and Ford's SYNC connectivity system which includes voice control and automatic emergency assistance.
There's also dual zone climate control and an electronic parking brake which frees up space in the front that now includes a storage zone beyond the gear lever.
The interior design is clean cut, clutter free and the instrumentation has sharp, easy to read graphics which include TFT panels on some models.
Pound for pound it's a lot of car for the money and even in top specification Titanium X Pack trim complete with leather upholstery, power operated seats and LED lights the base price is £24,245. The estate versions are £2,000 more.
On the road the Mondeo has always excelled and the new model is no different with top class handling, a smooth ride and competent engines.
The hybrid is particularly impressive. It may be Ford's first petrol/electric model in Europe but the company has been making them for years and has sold almost half a million of them in America.
It is the only saloon in the new Mondeo range and comes in Titanium trim priced from £24,995 with a 2.0-litre petrol engine mated to an electric motor which delivers a combined power output of 182ps.
Top speed is a claimed 116mph and 0 to 60 acceleration is around nine seconds and while it has not got the same sort of pull as the diesels it is no slouch. It has a six speed CVT auto box and progression through the gears is smooth.
There is no electric-only facility with the car automatically dictating the optimum drive pattern and on a 50 mile drive it spent 29.5 miles in EV mode resulting in an overall fuel consumption of 52.4 to the gallon - the best we achieved from any of the new Mondeos.
Differences inside include a powerflow meter replacing the rev counter while Ford has incorporated a prompt system in the car's software to show the driver how to get the best out of the car and maximise battery regeneration when braking. The more power in the battery the more work can be done by the electric motor and that saves fuel.
The compromise comes with a slightly smaller fuel tank of 11 gallons compared to the 13 gallon tanks fitted to the others and reduced boot space which is cut to just 383 litres because of the large and irregularly shaped battery housing at the back of the luggage compartment.
That is not the case with the hatchbacks which are positively gargantuan beneath the tailgate and with folding rear seats cargo capacity can be increased to 1,456 litres which is not far short of the 1,630 litre maximum in the Mondeo estate.
We drove a six speed manual 2.0-litre 150ps diesel hatch in Zetec trim which retails at £22,545 and achieved 42 to the gallon overall - 20mpg below the official figure - and we also tried out a top specification 180ps estate complete with Ford's semi automatic Powershift gearbox (which now includes steering wheel mounted rapid fire paddle shifters) which returned 48mpg - much closer to the 57.7mpg Ford claims.
Emissions are 107g/km for the 150ps diesel and 128ps for the 180ps Powershift estate.
Both were lively performers and the higher powered version with its 8.7 seconds 0 to 60 time delivered a very sporty drive.
For Mondeo Man it all adds up to a bright future and taking into account the amount of equipment that is available on the new car it stacks up very competitively especially as an alternative to the so-called premium German brands.