It is tough to keep up with the events in the motoring world with new models appearing in every sector at quite a rate of knots. Ford have always proceeded with sure footed stealth and ploughed their own furrow, continually producing cars that sell by the truck load and do exactly what it says on the can. They rarely seem to be threatened by other manufacturers and continue to produce models for every sector, with great aplomb.
But l think the Germans have got to them at last with premium models that offer the Ford reliability but with that dash of excitement and quality that have been stealing sales. Ford’s answer is the Vignale luxury range.
One presumes this is encouraged by the fact that many of the company’s models, such as the Kuga and S-Max, are purchased in their range-topping trim demonstrating that Ford customers love the brand but want more luxury, increased spec and something a little more bespoke.
Enter the Vignale range.
The Vignale is what Ford terms a “new ownership experience”, available across several other models as well as the Mondeo. It comes with all sorts of bells and whistles, including its own website and magazine. The standard Mondeo is a very good car and therefore it’s brave to fiddle with it but the fiddling that has been performed is excellent. The deep quilted leather seats are superb, the fit and feel of every panel is excellent (and very Germanic) and it has a more aggressive stance, with its angry grill and smart 18-inch alloy wheels.
They have given the engine range a makeover too with the additional of the excellent S-Max engine offering a 2.0 litre bi-turbo engine with 180PS and, with the addition of some very efficient dampers, it really is an excellent and involved drive. They have also worked hard on the noise cancelling devices, leaving barely a whisper from the power plant at speed and near silence on the motorway.
And then they have gone to the nirvana of modern road cars – all-wheel drive. Audi have been one of the only companies to recognise this simple life-changing feature, offering it across the range for years but add it to any car and life in all weather is just better. We don’t want to romp through dales but simply a more sure-footed drive in rain, ice and snow and although you suffer the weight gain, it’s worth every gram. There is also a Hybrid electric model available so that you can go anywhere and be smug at the same time.
The engine also offers a lovely tsunami of torque ushering you to 62mph in a little over 9 seconds and onto 140mph. Once up to cruising speed, there is a smorgasboard of tech bits inside to keep you amused such as the SYNC infotainment 8” touchscreen system, power seats, active park assist, reversing cameras, satnav of course and a lot more besides. So there is little doubt that Ford have got to within a gnats whisker of the Germans.
And then there is the elephant in the room. Price and sector competition. This spec Vignale starts at £32,745 with the BMW 3-series at £25,160, the Merc C-Class from £28,454 and Audi A4 from £26,350. This is not the fairest comparison as when you spec the Germans the prices rise considerably but the Vignale sits amongst august company. It holds its head high and only badge snobbery and resale value might prevent it from rising higher.
The Vignale range can only be purchased through the 70 or so Ford Stores but this means that they have specialists on-hand and can offer the full premium service and first-class backup. I like the Mondeo Vignale and, once you have crunched the numbers, l think you will too. Your local Ford Store is Birchwood Ford, Lottbridge Drove, Eastbourne, East Sussex, BN23 6PX on 01323 407105
Model tested: Vignale 2.0
TDCi Powershift AWD
Engine: 2.0 litre
Power: 180 PS
0-62mph 9.3 seconds
Top Speed: 140 mph
Economy: 53.3 combined
Price from: £32,745.00
As tested: £33,420.00