ANY list of the greenest cars on the planet was never likely to include the Ford Mondeo. It’s a big car, with a big cabin, big boot and a range of pretty serious engines.

So how about a Mondeo that is capable of more than 53 miles per gallon, with carbon dioxide emissions that are lower than some models in the Mini range?

Meet the Mondeo ECOnetic. It’s a five-door, powered by a 1.8-litre turbodiesel engine, which is at the heart of its ability to deliver such impressive fuel economy.

Aerodynamics play their part too, with the car sitting lower to the ground on sports suspension and a tidy little rear spoiler also helping to ease the airflow over the car.

There have been some tweaks inside the engine too, with BP supplying low-viscosity lubricants to further cut friction losses.

And for an extra £600, Ford will fit a set of fancy 16-inch lightweight alloy wheels to reduce the weight even further.

The result is a 125 horsepower package that, while it will not be breaking any land speed records, delivers more than enough oomph to make this car perfect for long distance travel.

And, with a tank brimming with fuel, the car has, potentially, the ability to cover 800 miles on a single thankful.

The good news for the driver and passengers aboard this frugal five-door is that Ford has left plenty of goodies on board.

The ECOnetic, like all new Mondeos, is fitted with Ford¹s so-called ‘Human Machine Interface’.

This alarming-sounding system is supposed to help you find your way quickly round the car's phone, cruise control and audio systems without major distraction. It works.

The secret lies in the simplicity of the layout of steering wheel-mounted buttons, which mimic the handsets of most mobile phones. Phone handsets with four control buttons pointing up, down, left and right around an ‘OK’ button are recognised the world over.

Ford uses a similar layout to control a Bluetooth-connected phone, set the cruise control or change the music without having to dive into the glovebox to unearth the vehicle handbook.

Standard equipment also includes a voice-activated control system, but don’t do what I did and change the language to Italian or Spanish just for a laugh. It is initially fun, but can prove distracting.

Options range from £650 bi-xenon headlights with auto-levelling and washer jets, to a £1,600 DVD navigation system with a boot-mounted six-CD autochanger.

If you fancy even better economy and do not need the Mondeo’s carrying capacity, Ford also has Whatgreencar?’s Green Car of the Year, the Focus ECOnetic, in its line-up, and next year will see the arrival of the sub-100g/km, road tax-free Fiesta ECOnetic.

Auto facts Ford Mondeo ECOnetic

  • Price: £18,745
  • Ins group: Eight
  • Fuel consumption (Combined): 53.3mpg
  • Top speed: 126mph
  • Length: 477.8cm/188.1in
  • Width: 188.6cm/74.2in
  • Luggage capacity: 18.6 cu ft
  • Fuel tank capacity: 15.4 gallons/ 70 litres
  • CO2 emissions: 139 g/km
  • Warranty: 3 years/ 60,000 miles