Review: Ford Mondeo Vignale
Ford makes some greats cars, but for people who consider a car’s badge to be as important as its specification, can the Mondeo Vignale cut it amongst its many excellent executive rivals?
Ford’s decision to launch the luxury Vignale sub-brand was always going to be a bold move. Breaking into a market segment that’s already dominated by a dazzling array of German models is notoriously difficult; just ask Lexus, Infiniti or DS. But has Ford managed to pull it off?
The namesake originally comes from Italy, where Vignale was a respected Coachbuilder in the 1950s that created fabulous bespoke bodies for the likes of Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari. It was however, a largely forgotten name, until the Mondeo Vignale hit roads last year.
There’s no bespoke bodywork like Vignales of old, but visually it’s clear from the off that this one has a little extra pizzazz.
Ok, there’s no bespoke bodywork like the Vignales of old, but visually it’s clear from the off that this one has a little extra pizzazz. For starters, most Mondeos are ordered as hatchbacks, but a Vignale can only be specified as a saloon or estate – a clear attempt by Ford to keep the Vignale as upmarket as possible, away from the more common (but more practical) hatch alternative.
Externally, there’s a plethora of additional chrome-effect trim, while the eagle-eyed will note the Mondeo monikers have been replaced with Vignale badges. A neat honeycomb grille finishes off the classy look, while our test car came with some 19in alloys, too. All Vignales feature directional LED headlights too, which certainly set it apart from lowlier trim levels in the dark.
Inside you’re greeted with the finest hand-stitched leather upholstery which, along with the rest of the car, is inspected and undergoes a more intense course of quality control than any run-of-the-mill Mondeo is likely to get. Except for the plush leather however, there’s not much to tell you that you’re sitting in anything more special than a Titanium X Mondeo.
In other words, it offers everything and more you’d expect to see in an executive saloon.
The necessary goods are all there. Electrically adjustable heated front seats, dual-zone air con, keyless entry, parking assist, reversing camera, active cruise control, sat nav. In other words, it offers everything and more you’d expect to see in an executive saloon. Tech-fest aside though, the layout and general feel of things isn’t quite on par with the German competition.
For example, the dashboard might be clad in the finest leather, but you have to do more than that to make it feel as if it hasn’t been lifted from a car that’s considerably cheaper than the class the Vignale has its sights on.
The Sync3 infotainment system is impressive enough, but the laggy touchscreen and button-filled console isn’t in the same league as Audi’s intuitive MMI system or Mercedes’ Comand set up.
The interior does make up for lost ground on the move however. Thanks to what one can only describe as a shed load of soundproofing material insulating the cabin from the outside world, it is a class-leader if you like the sound of silence.
Ford hasn’t forgotten to apply its trademark trick of making a great driving car.
Ford hasn’t forgotten to apply its trademark trick of making a great driving car either. Our test model featured the lesser-powered 178bhp diesel with Ford’s Powershift gearbox and all-wheel-drive, but the diesel-automatic combo didn’t detract from the driving experience at all.
Put your foot down and you’ll be greeted with a surge of smooth and effortless torque from the twin-turbo diesel engine. The well-insulated cabin means you hardly notice how hard the engine’s working and this combination of power delivery and supreme refinement is certainly a match for any of the Vignale’s contenders.
Combined with the torque of the diesel engines, the AWD system does give you the confidence that there’s little capable of impeding a journey in a Vignale.
While we’re talking about the engines, worth a note is petrol-hybrid drivetrain that’s on offer, although it remains unchanged from standard Mondeo. All variants can be ordered with all-wheel-drive too. It’s not really a necessity, but combined with the torque of the diesel engines, the AWD system does give you the confidence that there’s little capable of impeding a journey in a Vignale.
So, does Ford’s exec saloon feel comfortable sat alongside the BMW 3 Series and Jaguar XE? In a nutshell, yes. The necessary comfort, technology and luxury touches are all there. But now we come to the elephant in the room. Straight out of the showroom, if you were to buy you’d hand over a minimum of £29,000 for a Vignale. That’s more than a 3 Series (£25,160) or an XE (£26,990).
It’s not that much of a different story when it comes to leases. A quick search of our personal deals shows that the lowest monthly cost of a Mondeo Vignale is around £260 but, you can bag yourself a Mercedes C Class C220d AMG Line for under £250 per month, it’s a no brainer for most people. We don’t like to admit it, but these days, lots of people think the badge on the grille is as important as specification; there’s a bit of badge snobbery in all of us.
Ford makes some greats cars, but when people consider the car’s badge as imperative as its specification, the Vignale is never going to top the sales or leasing charts. But surely Ford must have appreciated this before it launched a sub-brand that not only features the Mondeo, but more recently the S-Max, Kuga and Edge too. So who exactly is the Vignale for?
Perhaps you want a luxury saloon that’s understated and a little different? Maybe you’re just a through-and-through Ford fan who wants something a little more opulent than the standard car?
Regardless, the Mondeo Vignale is certainly worth considering, but there are a lot of excellent executive rivals in the race.
Model tested: Ford Mondeo Vignale 2.0 TDCi Powershift AWD
|Official fuel economy:||53.3mpg|
|Car tax band:||E / £130|
|Engine:||2.0-litre Duratorq TDCi diesel|
|Luggage space:||500 litres|
Average lease rate for tested model:
Personal lease rate: £363*
Business lease rate: £304*
*Average monthly lease rates calculated using ContractHireAndLeasing.com data and based on typical 6 + 35 10k deals. Correct at time of writing.