Having opted for kitchen-sink Titanium X spec when I chose my long-term Ford Mondeo - on the principle that a fully-laden Mondy costs the same as a boggo base BMW 318d - I figured it would be a good idea to try a more basic version to see if the magic stayed when the toys went.

The least-adorned version the Ford press garage could turn up was a 1.8 TDCI Zetec, absolute heartland spec, and £17,995 as a hatchback.

To be honest, apart from a couple of blanking plates where the Titanium X's heated seat controls go, and the absence of the full-colour display screen between the instrument dials, I was hard pressed to spot the difference from the driver's seat. Yes, I was sitting on cloth rather than leather, the headlights didn't try and turn their beam into corners and the 1.8-litre engine is a bit louder than the 2.0-litre unit in my car.

But it felt pretty much as fast, the single-CD stereo projected the same high-quality sound and the steering, gearshift, clutch and brakes felt as solid and dependable as ever. It also seemed almost impossibly frugal, certainly if the trip computer was to be believed.

Apologies for the terrible quality of the snap taken by my mobile phone - if I can get mine to match the 1.8's fuel economy I should be able to afford a new one.

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