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First drive: Ford Vignale Mondeo. Image by Ford.

First drive: Ford Vignale Mondeo
Would you pay 4,500 for a top-spec Mondeo and a few perks? If so then Vignale is for you.

   



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Ford Mondeo Vignale

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Ford is trying to shake off its blue collar, mainstream image, as mainstream just doesn't sell anymore; buyers want premium models like such as those offered by Audi and BMW, or funky ones like the Nissan Qashqai and its plethora of copycats. According to Ford the Mondeo Vignale is a car in its own right rather than just a range topping trim level with a 'lifestyle' to go with it. It is on these grounds that it falls down. Better to have just revived Ghia?

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Ford Mondeo Vignale Hybrid
Pricing: 29,765; Mondeo Vignale starts at 29,045
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol and electric motor
Transmission: front-wheel drive, CVT automatic
Body style: four-door saloon
CO2 emissions: 99g/km (VED Band A, 0)
Combined economy: 67.3mpg
Top speed: 116mph
0-62mph: 9.2 seconds
Power: 187hp
Torque: 174Nm

What's this?

Before we dissect the Mondeo Vignale, a moment of congratulations for Ford. The Blue Oval was the only one of the so called Big Three (General Motors and Chrysler being the other two) not to benefit from a bailout by the US government when the proverbial hit the fan. Its products rather than tax payer money pulled it through the crisis and there is a lot to be said for that.

Which is why the Mondeo Vignale is all the more disappointing. Ford's mainstream offerings, such as the Fiesta, Focus, Mondeo (or Fusion in the US) and the F150 from its truck division were good enough to emerge from the 'Carpocolypse' relatively unscathed, yet somewhere in Dearborn, Michigan it was decided that for Ford to survive it needs to go upmarket. The justification for this - apart from seeing the sales success enjoyed by the Big German Trio - is that a lot of current Ford buyers are already opting for high specification models, so surely Ford is missing a trick by having a Titanium shaped glass ceiling. Which would be fine were Vignale a new trim level, but instead it is a brand within itself (says Ford) and one that will soon spread to S-Max, Galaxy and probably more.

The Vignale 'experience' begins the moment you decide to buy your posh Ford and find out that it cannot be ordered at your local dealership; instead you have to visit one of the dedicated Ford Stores, 55 of which are meant to spring up in the UK by the end of the year. There you will be ushered into a dedicated Vignale area with fittings designed by the same team that penned the car to meet your 'relationship manager' who will be on first name basis with you and in constant communication until the day you decide to part with your car.

Once you buy the car, you'll have access to a 24-hour Vignale owners' phone number should you need emergency breakdown cover or to book a service. When you do book a service, your dealership will collect the car from your home or office and return it to you spotlessly clean. As an offering it does not seem too bad - until you look at the price tag that is. A sum of 4,500 will buy you a lot of VIP attention from a myriad of other sources - hotels, airlines or what have you - but that pill could be somewhat swallowed if the car felt 4,500 better than a standard Mondeo.

Unfortunately, it doesn't. Somewhere along the lines the Ford bean counters got involved, meaning the exterior changes are limited to a new grille, some chrome, more prominent fog light surrounds, swanky alloy wheels and four exclusive body colours. All Vignale models do go through 100 extra quality checks to verify the uniform thickness of paint or quality of panel gaps etc. but still... 4,500.

Surely more of the money went on the interior, the part of the car where the owner is going to spend their time? Well there is premium Windsor leather - sourced from the same company that supplies Bentley and Porsche Exclusive. The infotainment system is Sync 2 as standard meaning an eight-inch touchscreen with reversing camera and a twelve-speaker Sony sound system, but that is about it. On the entry level model there is even a six-speed manual gearbox; you have to spend another 1,500 to get an automatic transmission.

It is this lack of luxury that irks. There are three different kinds of seats to choose from; all heated, but only the most expensive gets a massage function. The boot has to be closed manually and (no disrespect to Sony), but where is the option of a Bose or Bang Olufsen stereo? Sounds like nit-picking, but if you want to draw buyers out of the Audi showrooms (which Ford says it doesn't, but it does really) then you need to throw the kitchen sink at a car not just some fancy leather.

How does it drive?

The regular Mondeo scores well in the driving stakes. It may have lost some of its handling nous since the move to electric power steering, but it remains a competent cruiser. The Vignale version is the same, perhaps even more competent as it benefits from slightly revised spring rates that will soon be found in the rest of the Mondeo range. The Vignale is also much quieter thanks to laminated glass on the side windows, extra sound deadening around the wheels to dull tyre roar and an active noise cancellation system in the Sony radio that pumps antiphase noise into the cabin to drown out the drone of the engine up front. We also suspect the system is used to make the engine note sound better, but nobody from Ford could confirm this.

Five engine options are offered on the Vignale - a 2.0-litre EcoBoost petrol in 203- or 240hp outputs, a 180hp version of the 2.0-litre TDCi diesel or a bi-turbo diesel with 210hp, and the 187hp petrol/electric hybrid driven here. Ford UK only expects the latter, as tested here, to account for two per cent of Mondeo Vignale sales.

And the results are not good. The electrical components take up too much space in the boot and even in start-stop Rome traffic the system always seemed to default to petrol rather than electric power. The added weight of the hybrid system also has a detrimental effect on the ride comfort, taking a lot of the compliance out of the system leaving you bumping and bashing over cobblestones and the like. The CVT gearbox doesn't help either - hybrids are liked for the way they can get away from the line thanks to the instant electric torque, but the transmission in the Mondeo seemed dim-witted. Put your foot to the floor and you will get the noise of acceleration, but not the performance.

If running costs are on your mind, and a lot of Mondeo Vignales are probably going to end up as company cars, go for the entry level diesel instead. This is a tweaked version of the existing Mondeo engine and is much smoother even if you do have to shift your own gears. The torque delivery is more predictable, a light clutch makes for smoother changes and, overall, it is just a much more enjoyable experience. Less of a hit on Benefit-in-Kind tax too.

Verdict

As a company car the Mondeo Vignale just about makes sense; an extra few quid to pay each month and you get some nice extras that are optional on the Titanium Mondeo, such as Sync 2 radio and adaptive headlights. As a private buyer it makes no sense at all - the 4,500 premium is money you are never going to see again and neither the extras nor the 'experience' really add up. Buy the Mondeo Titanium, pay for a yearly valet and head to a five-star hotel for a few weeks instead.

3 3 3 3 3 Exterior Design

3 3 3 3 3 Interior Ambience

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Passenger Space

3 3 3 3 3 Luggage Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Driving Dynamics

3 3 3 3 3 Powertrain


Paul Healy - 3 Jun 2015



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2015 Ford Vignale Mondeo. Image by Ford.2015 Ford Vignale Mondeo. Image by Ford.2015 Ford Vignale Mondeo. Image by Ford.2015 Ford Vignale Mondeo. Image by Ford.2015 Ford Vignale Mondeo. Image by Ford.



2015 Ford Vignale Mondeo. Image by Ford.
 

2015 Ford Vignale Mondeo. Image by Ford.
 

2015 Ford Vignale Mondeo. Image by Ford.
 

2015 Ford Vignale Mondeo. Image by Ford.
 

2015 Ford Vignale Mondeo. Image by Ford.
 

2015 Ford Vignale Mondeo. Image by Ford.
 

2015 Ford Vignale Mondeo. Image by Ford.
 

2015 Ford Vignale Mondeo. Image by Ford.
 






 

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