The US ‘Big Three’ car makers are getting a serious kicking at the moment. Much of the criticism is centred on failing to build cars that matched the - mostly Asian - competition.

That, of course, and their notorious reliance on ‘gas-guzzlers’.

However, Ford has just let the press drive its new US-market Fusion Hybrid and the narrative could be about to change.

The Mondeo-sized Fusion (which is actually based on the Mazda 6) gets a mild hybrid set-up, with an electric motor/generator sandwiched into a CVT transmission, which is driven by a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine.

It's an updated version of the hybrid transmission in the Ford Escape SUV. The nickel-metal-hydride battery pack now weighs 70kg(23 percent less) and other changes will now allow the Fusion to hit 47mph in pure electric mode.