THERE is a new sharpness to the Ford Edge Vignale.
Ford has again raised its game and put pressure on competitors with the high spec Edge Vignale.
When we first drove the Edge Sport with a 180ps 2.0 TD engine and six-speed manual gearbox we found it a bit underpowered for a model weighing over 1,900kg. Now with the top Vignale's 210ps output from the same engine and matched with a very smooth dual-clutch automatic/ manual six-speed transmission it has been transformed.
Not only is it better to drive, has quicker acceleration and higher top speed but, and this may seem unlikely, it is actually more economical by a significant amount, rising from 38mpg to over 47mpg, a staggering 25% improvement, but hard use saw it fall to about 34mpg.
The high specification Vignale automatic gearbox and trim adds diamond pattern leather seat covers among its luxury kit and slightly raised the kerb weight but it has not been at the expense of economy.
Vignale is the top trim level in a compact seven model range in four grades of the all-wheel-drive only Edge with a choice of 180 or 210ps 2.0 turbo-diesel engines equipped with six-speed manual or Powershift dual clutch sequential automatic transmission and costing between £30,650 and £41,165.
With the Vignale name comes a dedicated VIP service from Ford and partners to offer owners special lifestyle opportunities and access to selected events.
The more powerful engine and automatic transmission showed a high degree of refinement and quietness along with smooth delivery and good acceleration.
It's still a small capacity engine for such a big model and this can still be an issue when heavily loaded with people, luggage or possibly towing, but in everyday use it distinguished itself.
I liked the steering weight and assistance, it turns in well on open roads and has a reasonably good circle when manoeuvering or parking but it needs big spaces and you can order park assist and a wide-view camera to help.
Slowing and stopping the near 1,950kg five-door SUV as very easy with modest pedal effort, good assistance build up and an effective electric parking-brake.
Secondary controls are familiar column stalks, which work well, backed up by scattered switches along and under the facia, on the central console stack and between the front seats.
The instruments are big and clear with a highly visible infotainment screen for a multitude of features and displays.
The Edge Vignale is a comfortable car. Heating and ventilation was straightforward, worked well and kept the big cabin at desired temperature while the powered and heated front seats were supplemented by heated rear seats and steering wheel as options.
Access was very good with wide opening doors, lots of room both in cabin and bootspace, which had a high floor so it wasn't deep but wide and long instead. Oddments space was good.
The Edge Vignale has a good ride in its standard setting, slightly firm but generally absorbent, and it really soaked up all but the very worst potholes and bumps which could be heard passing beneath the car.
You are aware this is a big car from first setting eyes on it and corners are out of sight most of the time but it handles well with a fairly neutral feel and a high degree of grip. There is almost no body roll or pitching so rear seat passengers are unlikely to feel queasy.
I found headlights were powerful, wide and long ranging, the wipers among the biggest I have ever seen and the wash was very powerful for coping with autumn road muck.