Ford Mondeo hatchback

£19,995 - £32,045

The new Ford Mondeo, available in hatchback, saloon and estate forms, arrives just as the classes it occupies is in decline, with car buyers flocking to drive crossovers and SUVs instead. However, it's a perfectly competitive car that feels grown-up and comes well equipped, even if it's not quite as good to drive as its predecessor.

It was first seen at the Detroit Motor Show as long ago as 2012 and has been on sale in the US for some time. However, Ford says the European model is very different from the US version in key areas such as steering, suspension and the range of safety features fitted as standard.

Admittedly, the new model's cause is not helped by the fact that it looks a lot like the old one. Up close, though, it's definitely classier – an impression heightened by the large chrome grille first seen on the Fiesta and which is now a feature of the facelifted Focus. There are sharp creases running along the sides, too, and the rear lights look more integrated than before.

As we said, mainstream saloons such as the Mondeo are losing ground to SUVs, so they have to offer buyers (mainly canny company fleets) better reasons than ever before to purchase them. The Mondeo has always been a relatively cheap car to run but thanks to a range of more efficient engines, this version is even more so. A new hybrid model, powered by a petrol engine and an electric motor, approaches diesel levels of fuel economy, but the more conventional engines will be the most popular.

In the petrol camp, these include a choice of a 1.0 and 1.5-litre EcoBoost, as well as a more powerful 2.0-litre version. We prefer the 1.5-litre for its smoothness, fuel economy (48.7mpg) and sporty engine note. For diesel fans, there's a pair of 2.0-litre engines with different power outputs and a 1.6-litre that achieves a range-best 78.5mpg fuel economy.

There are effectively five trim levels: Style, Zetec, Titanium, Titanium X and Vignale, but Ford wants you to think of the Mondeo Vignale almost as a model in its own right, rather than an extra trim level. Standard equipment includes alloy wheels, LED tail-lights, a DAB digital radio, an eight-inch colour touchscreen, climate control and cruise control.