FIVE star luxury is coming together with seven seat practicality as Ford expands its exclusive Vignale range to include the S-MAX sporty MPV.
Priced from £33,395 the new Vignale model will sit very much at the top of the S-MAX line up, topping out at £35,695 for an all-wheel-drive automatic.
Decked out with quilted leather upholstery and featuring chrome body detailing it's both posh and luxurious and brings with it membership of a lifestyle club available only to Vignale owners.
Vignale is Ford ‘upper class' and it take the Blue Oval brand into a zone more usually associated with premium marques such as Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz and even Bentley.
It takes its name from a coachbuilding company set up by Alfredo Vignale in Italy in the 1950s which gained a reputation for producing some quite special models including ones for Ferrari and Maserati.
Ford acquired Vignale in 1973 around the same time as it bought Ghia - the name it used on its upmarket cars in the 80s and 90s before Titanium grade arrived.
The high end specification arrived last year on the Mondeo and signalled Ford's intention of offering cars which come with perks and privileges such as one-to-one customer care, valet services, courtesy cars during servicing and discounted offers for luxury hotels, holidays and VIP events.
There's also Vignale-branded accessories such as leather luggage and bags, notebooks, phone cases and the like as well as an online App.
The Vignale cars are available only at the new-style FordStore dealerships of which 70 are now open in the UK featuring plush showrooms and lounge areas specifically for the new breed of buyer.
So far some 500 Mondeo Vignales have been sold in the UK, a figure which is set to grow as Ford extends the series with the introduction on the new S-MAX.
Both models are built in Spain at Ford's factory in Valencia where they are given the Vignale finish by hand.
Technically they are no different to the mainstream versions and in the case of the S-MAX the Vignale cars will be available with a choice of 180 or 210ps diesels or a 240ps EcoBoost turbo petrol engine with either six speed manual or automatic transmissions.
Apart from the body garnish, honeycomb grille, Vignale badges on the front wings and across the tailgate and the luxurious leather-clad interior what is most noticeable is the quietness on the move.
That's down to an ‘active noise cancellation' system which delivers ‘negative' sound through the speakers to block out engine rumble.
The 2.0-litre 180ps manual diesel S-MAX Vignale we sampled was ultra-serene and acquitted itself admirably clocking up an average close to 48mpg. Ford's official fuel figures are 56.5 to the gallon with emissions of 129g/km.
Factor in the flexibility that makes any S-MAX so capable - automatic foldaway rear seats that are big enough to take adults, dropdown tables on the back of the front seats and luggage space ranging from Fiesta proportions of 285 litres as a seven seater to a near Transit-size 2,020 litres with all the back seats down - and the Vignale becomes a new take on prestige travelling.
It also comes with privacy glass at the rear and Ford's latest SYNC 3 connectivity system which can direct you to wherever you want by voice control. Feeling peckish then just say ‘I'm hungry' and up pops a list of nearby eateries on the sat nav.
On top of that there is a full camera system and Ford's speed limiter set up which can keep the car within the legal limit automatically.
And for a little extra comfort the front seats can be cooled or heated depending on conditions.
As a concept, Vignale ownership may not immediately be considered typically Ford but in these days of buying into a ‘brand experience' it looks a bargain for those who want their cars to cosset in more ways than one.
And Ford is very serious about rolling out more. Next up will be Vignale versions of the Edge and Kuga SUVs as well as a luxury Mondeo estate with a hatch slated to arrive next year by which time all will be available with the option of dark body detailing for further stand out appeal.