IT is perhaps a shame that when Tony Blair coined the phrase Sierra Man, and subsequently Mondeo Man, many people immediately associated those marques with Mr Average and Mr Ordinary.
However, it could also be seen as a compliment - those models being among the pacemakers for mass production quality and reliability.
The Mondeo has been around for a while now and despite being a favourite of the fleet market, the 2004 version has a lot to offer the private motorist.
I had trepidations about the test drive. The Mondeo is a big car, easily accommodating five people and has a boot the size of an airport lounge.
I feared the 1.8-litre engine wouldn't have the guts to pull it with any conviction - you know, a bit like a lawnmower engine powering a tank.
Fortunately the new SCI Duratec petrol unit delivers around 130bhp and power is delivered smoothly and sweetly. The grunt is delivered via a superbly slick six-speed gearbox which makes for an excellent drive.
SCi technology employs a system of sensors that allow the engine to adapt to driver and driving conditions to ensure the optimum petrol/air mix and ignition timing to work together perfectly.
This in turn delivers fuel efficiency at lower driving speeds and reduced emissions. In other words, its a cheaper car to run, which is good news to Joe Public and stops the environmentalists having sleepless nights.
On the road, the ride is refined, road noise subdued thanks to excellent soundproofing and handling excellent. Performance is surprisingly good. The 0-60mph sprint takes a shade over ten seconds, with a top speed of around 130mph.
On the economy side, CO2 emissions of 173g/km will keep the company car driver and his bank manager happy and Ford claim an astonishing 39mpg. Great figures for such a big, petrol-engined car, but which I failed to match on the test drive where I thought it nearer to 35.
It also looks good. Ubiquitous it may be but there is plenty of style - maybe not Milan catwalk but more than a cut above High Street. The Mondeo's interior reflects the rest of the car and on the Ghia model there are more extras than on Brad Pitt's Troy.
There is the usual array of electrics and cupholders and oddment bins, but the Ghia adds air conditioning and a leather steering wheel with remote audio-controls, six-spoke alloy wheels; mirror puddle lights, power foldable and heated door mirrors, rain sensing windscreen wipers and a mind-blowing CD/Radio with 6-disc loader.
Those are just the creature comforts. Safety is a big factor on the Mondeo with sensor operated, dual-stage all-round airbags, ABS, side impact protection and electronic stability programme as an option.
The Mondeo is also hugely practical. To complement the cavernous boot, the rear seats split and fold to increase stowage. The seating is firm but comfortable and acres of tinted glass provide excellent vision, the whole cabin feels well made.
The Mondeo comes with a bewildering choice of trims, body styles and engines and starts at just under £15,000 with the range-topping Mondeo ST220 available from £23,565.
Above average? Definitely. Extraordinary, maybe that's too far - but the new Mondeo remains a hard act to follow.
Ford Mondeo 1.8 SCI Ghia
Mechanical: 130bhp 1,798cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-spd manual gearbox
Max speed: 129mph
0-62mph: 10.5 secs
Combined mpg: 39.2 mpg
Insurance group: 9
CO2 emissions: 173 g/km
BiK rating: 20%
Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles; 3yrs paint; 12yrs anti-rust