Three years ago, give or take a week, we published the first official photos of the new Ford Mondeo, released during its US launch as the Fusion.

Naturally, this begs the question: just what has the Blue Oval been up to for the last three years?

By way of an answer, the company points to its restructuring efforts – particularly of its manufacturing facilities – that became a necessity after the onset of recession, but the company is also keen to point out that rather than putting its collective feet up and taking a giant tea break, it has instead taken the time to ensure the new Mondeo has benefited from all the tweaking, testing and titivating it can possibly stand.

Watch our Ford Mondeo Video Review

Ford have also taken the opportunity to cram the new Mondeo with a selection of its latest developments, including Active City Stop, Pedestrian Detection, adaptive LED headlights and an inflatable rear seat-belt.

Although sold in the US only in saloon form, here in the UK that body-style is reserved for the hybrid model, with the bulk of orders expected to be for the five-door hatchback, with the estate not far behind.

It’s undoubtedly a more rakish shape than before, and Ford designers were quick to point to elements such as the slim A-pillars as part of the new design.  However, that slenderness has been achieved only because much of their bulk is contained within the cabin, and here their visual mass obstructs a significant part of the driver’s view at junctions.

That heavily sloping roof-line also hampers rearward visibility from the driver’s seat, and we found it necessary to duck our heads to be able to see more than two or three car lengths behind.

Dominating the cabin design is Ford’s Sync 2 system, controlled via an eight-inch colour touch-screen that’s standard across the range. It works efficiently if not always intuitively, with its interface revolving around the concept of four zones – top left for smartphone connectivity, top right for navigation, bottom left for music, and bottom right for climate.  Our one real gripe with the system is that its screen is angled steeply, making it prone to collecting sunlight and reflections.

Navigation is standard on Titanium models but Ford should be commended for making it available on lesser grades for just £300 – a welcome relief from the extortionate sums charged by some manufacturers.

Luggage capacity in the hatchback is a useful 550 litres rising to 1,466 litres with the seats folded and loaded to the roof. The estate has marginally less boot space with the seats in place, but 1,630 litres with the seats flat, although that figure is still a little less than, say, a Mazda 6 Tourer.

Titanium models are expected to account for 51% of all sales, and with 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights and wipers, lane keeping aid, traffic sign recognition and a TFT instrument cluster, it probably represents the sweet spot in the range.

A £2,000 Titanium X Pack adds Ford’s new adaptive LED headlights, heated leather electrically-adjustable seats, keyless entry and privacy glass.

From launch, engine options start with a 1.6-litre diesel with 115PS, plus a pair of 2.0-litre units with either 150PS or 180PS. Petrol options are covered by a 1.5-litre EcoBoost unit with 160PS, followed by a 2.0-litre unit with a more chunky 240PS.

Following later in the year will be a new 1.0-litre EcoBoost, a high-powered twin-turbo diesel with 210PS, and a series of all-wheel-drive models.

Also available is a hybrid model that combines a 2.0-litre Atkinson-cycle petrol engine with an electric motor and a 1.4kWh lithium-ion battery, although it’s mated exclusively to a CVT auto which – as far as we’re concerned – is the devil’s transmission.

Emissions are respectable, with the 1.6 diesel leading the charge with 94 g/km and a government economy figure of 78.5 mpg, while the 2.0-litre diesel that’s likely to account for the majority of sales emits 115 g/km and achieves up to 64.2 mpg.

Petrol hatchback models, by comparison, range from 134 to 169 g/km, with economy of 48.7 to 38.7 mpg.

We spent much of our time behind the wheel of the various diesels, and while certainly refined, all felt somewhat lethargic.

All feature an anti-stall measure that sees the engine management system raise the revs as soon as you begin to lift the clutch pedal, and on the 2.0-litre models we tried, this system worked well in conjunction with the hill-holder function.

The smaller 1.6-litre unit, however, is trickier to get moving from an incline, with an initial reluctance in the throttle response that made it necessary to show it a determined right hoof to avoid stalling and embarrassment.

Out on the open road, even the 2.0-litre units feel rather languid and at odds with their otherwise creditable on-paper performance figures (0-62mph in 8.3 seconds for the 180PS unit, for instance).

We suspect the source of this unhurried attitude is the long-legged gearing, bestowed upon them presumably in the interests of achieving lower CO2 figures, with sixth gear relegated to little more than a motorway overdrive ratio.

The motorway, though, is where the Mondeo is likely to spend most of its time, and luckily it’s here that it begins to shine.

The Mondeo is now a remarkably refined beast, with wind and road noise both well subdued, thanks to a new rear suspension set-up and the use of additional sound deadening material.

The ride, too, is equally cosseting, with cat’s eyes and other surface craters all dealt with calmly and quietly.

Unfortunately this does mean the Mondeo isn’t as engaging as before. Although body-roll is well controlled and grip levels are high, the overall experience is tempered slightly by the electric power steering, which – as usual – robs the chassis of its chance to deliver feedback to the driver, but also has a curious uneven response either side of the straight-ahead position.

In the wet, we noted a tendency to drift sideways in response to mid-corner bumps, too.

In truth, it’s probably best to think of the new Mondeo as more of a mile-muncher than engaging family transport, and that’s in line with the company’s targeting of the ‘user chooser’ market as its prime customer base. Ford is even going as far as to cap sales to the rental market in order to protect its residual values, citing an average £1,200 improvement across the range over the previous model.

Prices for the new Mondeo start at £20,795 for the 1.6 TDCi Style five-door, with the anticipated big seller, the 2.0 TDCi 180 Titanium weighing in at £24,245. Estate models add on average £1,200 or so, with the saloon hybrid priced at £24,995.

By comparison, a BMW 3-Series doesn’t even get out of bed until £24,255, and you’ll need to spec a 320d to just north of £31,500 to match the Ford’s spec.

Of course, the new Mondeo isn’t as engaging as its big-selling German rival; nor, arguably, is it as engaging as its predecessor.

But it is remarkably refined, and represents far greater value for money.

Entry-level Price £20,795 Price as tested £27,815
Engine 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbodiesel Transmission 6-speed manual
Power 150PS Torque 350Nm
0-62 9.3 secs Top speed 134 mph
Economy 62.8 mpg CO2 117 g/km
Dimensions 4871 x 1852 x 1482 (LWH) Kerb Weight 1578 kg