James Bond purists were mortified in 2006 when Casino Royale featured Daniel Craig negotiating a series of exploding warehouses in a Ford Mondeo - the argument being that this family workhorse is to escapist spy glamour what Jeremy Clarkson is to female sexual fantasy or what HMV is to the future of high street retailing.
But I didn't have a problem with it. I've long thought the Mondeo looks a bit like the Jaguar XF, which, in turn, looks a bit like the Aston Martin DBS, a Bond classic. And, frankly, my test model of the new Mondeo, prettified with LED daytime-running lights, a redesigned front end, a chrome-lined radiator grille, chrome twin tailpipes, a contoured bonnet, and brushed stainless steel interior detailing, was glamorous enough for a Jay Z video.
Or at least a Tinie Tempah video. And the little rapper wouldn't be disappointed if he got to drive it away after the shoot. The car is unexpectedly agile given its size. The 2-litre engine is a surprise as well. The boot space made me gasp: you could get an Aston Martin DBS or Jaguar XF in the back and you would still have to tie it down to make sure it didn't rattle around. And even Q would be impressed with the blind spot information device and lane departure warning and driver impairment monitoring systems.
Indeed, the only problem with this car is the self-conscious way it's marketed. The Mondeo has always had a chip on its shoulder about not being a BMW or Audi. You can detect this anxiety in the way the press pack talks about the car's 'premium appearance' and its all-new audio system, called the 'new Ford Premium Sound System'.
You would think that Ford, having once owned Jaguar and Aston Martin, would understand that any company which attaches the labels 'premium', 'premier', 'creative', 'quality', 'iconic' or 'exclusive' to a product is making it anything but. It's the vehicular equivalent of those 'designer' clothes shops you see on the periphery of Selfridges in Birmingham. We all know that the Ford Mondeo is as exclusive as a tax bill. But this is nothing to be ashamed of - the car is popular and deserves to be in this latest incarnation.
4 OUT OF 5
Ford Mondeo Titanium 2.0 tdci
Engine: 2-litre, 4-cyl, turbo diesel
Power: 161 bhp @ 4,000 rpm
Torque: 236 lb/ft @ 1,750-2,250 rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Fuel consumption: 53.2 mpg CO2 emissions 139 g/km
0-62 mph: 9.5 seconds
Top speed: 130 mph