The Mondeo can shake-off its highly anticipated tag because here at last is the European version of the US’s Ford Fusion revealed as long ago as the 2012 Detroit auto show.

Having sampled the 2.0-litre TDCi diesel before Christmas, we’ve tried the emissions king, the 115hp 1.6-litre diesel offering official figures of 94g/km and 78.5mpg in the hatchback, and 99g/km and 74.3mpg for the estate.

This car is effectively a short-term fix for Ford, as the newer 1.5 TDCi diesel that meets the Euro6 emissions regulation will replace the 1.6 around April, but for now it at least this gives Ford a strong CO2 story to launch with.

The engine does a reasonable job, although the 150hp 2.0 diesel that’s predicted to be the most popular choice would also be the one recommended for drivers covering higher mileage.

The 115hp car copes, and the £750 cheaper price and £26 per month saving on BIK for a higher-rate taxpayer will be reasonable compensation, but the extra performance from the larger engine is significant.

The Mondeo has always had a reputation for being up with the best-handling cars in its class, and this new model does nothing to damage that, while also proving relaxing in terms of ride quality on longer runs.

The cabin is logically laid out, but the quality of materials is a bit behind the new VW Passat. The boot looks a good size to the naked eye, although the official figures tell a different story, with the hatchback’s 458 litres up against 530 litres for the Insignia, the Passat’s 565 litres, and 595 litres for the huge Skoda Superb.

Where the Mondeo scores particularly well is on whole-life costs. Only Vauxhall’s Insignia can get under 100g/km for CO2, and even that is 4g/km and a BIK band away from the Mondeo, while others at this power level aren’t close to offering similar efficiency.

That, combined with a reasonable residual value of 33.6%, according to KwikCarcost, compared with 35.3% for the Passat, 34.5% for the Superb and 29.3% for the Insignia, means the Mondeo has a cost per mile figure that none of its rivals can get within 1.3p of matching.

Add in the decent interior space, intelligent pricing of models and of the key options, and good looks if you avoid cars on smaller wheels, and while the market is getting tougher for volume brands, which are being squeezed from all directions, the new Mondeo gives Ford a good shot at maintaining its position.

Ford Mondeo 1.6 TDCi 115 Zetec 5dr

Model price range       £20,795-£27,550
Residual value       33.6%
Depreciation       £14,440
Fuel       £4125
SMR       £2033
VED       £0
National Insurance       £1350
Cost per mile       46.0p
Fuel consumption       78.5mpg
CO2 (tax)       94g/km (14%)
BIK 20/40% per month     £51/£101
Warranty       3yrs/60,000mls
Boot space min/max     458/1356 litres
Engine size/power       1560cc/115hp