Mondeo Vignale takes

Ford upmarket

Ford Mondeo Vignale, front, action
Ford Mondeo Vignale, side
Ford Mondeo Vignale, front
Ford Mondeo Vignale, back
Ford Mondeo Vignale, rear
Ford Mondeo Vignale, interior
Ford Mondeo Vignale, badge
Ford Mondeo Vignale, bag in boot
Ford Mondeo Vignale, stitching
Ford Mondeo Vignale, rear seats
Ford Mondeo Vignale, Ford Store Vignale area
Ford Mondeo Vignale, dashboard
Ford Mondeo Vignale, Ford Store display screen
Ford Mondeo Vignale, Ford Store relaxation zone
Ford Mondeo Vignale, Ford Store interior
Ford Mondeo Vignale, Ford Store touchscreen
Ford Mondeo Vignale, Ford Store tiling
Ford Mondeo Vignale, bag
Ford Mondeo Vignale, handbag
Ford Mondeo Vignale, upholstery
Ford Mondeo Vignale, Valencia factory
Ford Mondeo Vignale, Ford Store screen
Ford Mondeo Vignale, seat
Ford Mondeo Vignale, Ford Store exterior

THERE are fast Fords, eco Fords, go anywhere Fords and now there are posh Fords.

The blue oval brand is heading for the luxury league with a new range of models called Vignale.

Positioned well and truly in the premium zone Vignale Fords are decked out to the hilt but remain affordable, thousands of pounds cheaper than high grade Audis, BMWs or Mercedes.

It is a bold move and sees Ford joining the lifestyle sector where buying and owning a car involves more than just a visit to the showroom.

Acquiring a Vignale won't just get you the plushest Mondeo on the block it also signs you up to an exclusive club based at one of 55 new look Ford UK dealerships to be known as Ford Stores.

Ford intends to have one in every major city and within an hour's drive for most. The attention to detail inside the stores is such that even the floor tiling carries a Ford Store motif.

They represent Ford's move in the high tech world of car buying and feature huge display screens that are large enough to screen life-size videos which can be viewed from lounge areas furnished with leather clad suites and a giant table-top touchscreen.

Other Vignale privileges include one-to-one service from a personal manager, a 24-hour on-call facility, home collection and return at service time and Vignale merchandise including specially designed luggage and other bespoke paraphernalia.

For Mondeo Man and Woman it turns the car that began as a rep-mobile into the most luxurious Ford ever and one that is priced from £29,795.

That's for the new 2.0-litre petrol-electric hybrid Mondeo - with tax free emissions of 99g/km - and the Vignale treatment is available on every saloon and estate in the current line up but not the hatchbacks.

Flashback not too many years and Ford flagships bore a Ghia badge before Titanium trim arrived on the scene.

Ford became custodian of the Vignale name at the same time as it acquired Ghia when it snapped up the two Italian style houses in the 1970s, some 20 years after Vignale made its name as a coachbuilder of repute.

The company, based in Turin, turned out some desirable specials for the likes of Ferrari, Maserati, Alfa Romeo and also created a version of the original Fiat 500 which won rave reviews.

Founder Alfredo Vignale - who died in a road accident in 1969 - worked as an apprentice with Pinin Farina in Turin before setting up his own styling company where he went on to nurture the talents of Giovanni Michelotti - the designer of many a Triumph car including the Stag and the Spitfire.

Vignale's reputation for craftsmanship was built around a philosophy that ‘beautiful design needs to be combined with technology that is usable' and Ford's take on that sees the Mondeo Vignale getting special treatment at the Valencia factory where it is built in Spain.

Moving the Mondeo into the arena of auto haute couture involves some bright body garnish around the fog lamps, along the side and in the door handles as well as at the rear where the Vignale name appears in a silver strip.

There's a distinctive hexagonal mesh grille, a design echoed throughout the car where it appears as the stitched pattern on the leather seats. The seats themselves are perforated for extra ventilation and can come with an optional massaging function for added comfort.

Vinyl has been banished from the interior with all surfaces - even the door linings - finished in quality hide set off with ‘tuxedo line' highlights.

It's an opulent feast that pleases and impresses and the upmarket design is continued with features such as chrome door handles and a clamshell design for the centre console armrest.

Soak up the Vingale experience and a pinch is needed to remind you that this is a car with a Ford badge.

Continuing the quality theme the cars are fitted with active noise cancellation systems, laminated acoustic windows and additional insulation which has significantly reduced noise levels on the road.

Dynamically the Vignale models are no different to any other Mondeo and the range tops out at £33,310 for the all-wheel-drive 2.0-litre diesel automatic estate.

Compared to top grade Titanium models the cars cost around £4,000 more but are fully kitted with sat nav, Bluetooth, voice control and 18-inch alloys included along with lane departure warnings and a traffic sign recognition system.

Extras include active cruise control, additional airbag protection fitted in the outer rear seatbelts and city safety anti-collision braking systems while the Vignale exclusive rich brown metallic paint job is also a cost option.

A comprehensive list of additions would add around £5,000 to the price yet even so that would bring home an ultra-exclusive car for less than £40,000.

As a concept the Vignale Fords are special cars indeed and following the release of the Mondeo in the summer a luxury S-MAX will be introduced next year. Others likely to follow include the Kuga SUV.

All will be limited in numbers and are intended to move Ford on to the executive car park in a big way. Only dyed in the wool badge snobs will object.


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