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The Ford Vignale brand is intended to offer a whole VIP ownership experience, so does the product live up to the price?

Our Verdict

Ford Mondeo

Ford's family car is now in its fourth iteration, but is the Mondeo ready to take the fight to a world burgeoning with rivals?

What is it?

Like it or not, this is more a lifestyle review than a car review. After all, lifestyle is the whole principle of Ford’s Vignale models, which aim to cater for those who are looking to get that elusive premium aura for a bit less cash than it would cost if you went straight to the main dealers of the aspirational image. Step forward Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar and Lexus…

The Vignale gets no mechanical modifications over the car on which it's based - no bad thing, given that the regular Mondeo is good enough to have beaten the BMW 320d ED in our executive shootout.

However, one big difference is that you can’t get the hatchback body; rather, you can only get the Vignale as a saloon or an estate, and the engine range is limited to a 2.0-litre diesel in 177bhp or 207bhp outputs, a 236bhp 2.0-litre Ecoboost petrol, and a 2.0 petrol-electric hybrid - all of which are (or very soon will be) available in the standard Mondeo.

Other than that, Ford is relying on enhanced ownership experience and a raft of styling and ancillary enhancements to elevate the Mondeo from daily tabloid to glossy coffee table fodder.

All Vignale models get a full leather interior, electrically adjustable and heated front seats, laminated side glass, adaptive LED headlights and a 12-speaker Sony sound system. Refinement should also be improved with the aid of a standard speaker-based noise cancelling system.

On top of this, there’s a 24-hour helpline, you’ll be on first-name terms with your dedicated customer relations person, and a man will come and pick the car up and return it for you when it needs servicing. This all sounds good, right up until you find out that the Vignale costs £4500 more than an equivalent Titanium model, so there's still a lot to prove. 

What's it like?

This is the first time we’ve tried a four-wheel-drive, 2.0-litre diesel Mondeo, complete with compulsory six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, and it’s a great set-up. Handling is as impressive as ever, the Vignale delivering the fluid and composed responses we’ve come to expect, with steering that offers progressive bite as you wind lock on and enough confidence in fast stuff, albeit with a slightly aggressive, overly springy self-centring action.

The active four-wheel drive, which sends all the drive to the front wheels most of the time but can divert all or any portion of it to the rear when necessary, makes the Mondeo feel more neutral and resistant to understeer in hard cornering, although it’s pretty marginal in good conditions. Otherwise, this is a really flexible engine that delivers a hefty and extended wave of torque that you can work easily through the smooth-shifting and generally quite intuitive Powershift automatic gearbox. If you feel you’d benefit from the extra traction through the less forgiving seasons, this is a really effective system that doesn't detract from the Mondeo’s trademark engaging handling otherwise, and costs a reasonable £1500 premium. 

Even the ride isn’t too badly affected. On passive springs and standard 18in alloys, the all-weather Vignale model does feel a bit harsher on initial bump absorption than lighter, smaller-wheeled models, but the damping is still wonderfully well sorted, with controlled compression and taut rebound keeping things from getting overly jarring or wayward even on really poor surfaces.

Refinement is excellent. Road noise is reduced anyway thanks to the enclosed cabin inherent to the saloon body, and this was always one of the most refined four-cylinder diesels in this class, but the Vignale is BMW 5 Series and Audi A6-style quiet, with very little wind and engine noise and only a distant burr of tyre noise even at high speeds.

The overall cabin finish is very nice, too, but it's not without fault. The leather is of genuine bovine origin, the seats are cushy and really comfortable and the sound system offers great depth of tone, while the metal-trimmed door sills and chrome-trimmed dial binnacle all make it feel pretty top notch. That's until you play with the wobbly air vents, or graze your hand on the sharp-edged door bin, or notice any of the other giveaways that – tuxedo-stitched leather or not - mean you will never forget that this is still a Mondeo. 

Should I buy one?

It’s no surprise that business users are expected to be the majority of Vignale customers. The extra you’ll pay in company car tax – around £35 per month more for the 177bhp diesel variants, at £233 for this four-wheel-drive model - over a Titanium version is much easier to stomach than the retail list price premiums.

If that’s your situation, and you really value your luxury finish, you should consider it. This version of the Vignale is great to drive, and it’s a genuinely premium-feeling thing with masses more equipment and service benefits than premium rivals. Just bear in mind that you could have a well-equipped BMW 520d for the same amount of tax. For us, no amount of dealership attention or posh detailing would sway that decision in Ford's favour. 

If you’re a private buyer? Don’t bother. We love the Mondeo, but just buy a Titanium - which you'll be able to get with this excellent powertrain very soon - and every time you wish you had the hoenycomb leather or your salesman's direct line, consider how you’d feel if you also had a car with the residual values of a sinking ship and £4500 less in your bank. You’ll get over it pretty quickly. 

Ford Mondeo Vignale 2.0 TDCi 180 AWD Powershift

Location Rome; On sale September 2015; Price £32,045; Engine 4 cyls, 1997cc, turbodiesel; Power 177bhp at 3500rpm; Torque 295lb ft at 2000rpm; Gearbox 6-spd dual-clutch automatic; Kerb weight 1650kg (est); Top speed 140mph; 0-62mph 9.3sec; Economy 53.3mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 138g/km, 25%

Join the debate

Comments
37

289

13 May 2015
I think this is a real error in Fords product planning. I predict that Vignale will be an expensive vanity project for them. I understand their reasons for trying to push up-market, I just think they would have been better placed by trading on their sporting past by building a Lotus version rather than going down the premium route where they have NO track record.
My guess is that as well as depreciating like a stone dropping, their PCP costs will struggle to compete with M-B/Audi/BMW , (partly because of the depreciation of course), and this is where the buyers are going these days.
Any dealership worth their salt would already be offering free collection/ delivery for servicing, and a 24 hour hotline....what does this actually achieve over breakdown/recovery already included. The first name terms customer relations person is frankly superfluous.
I don't think The Germans will be quaking in their boots yet...probably having a good chuckle!

13 May 2015
however a similar spec 3 series would be about £40k, and its interior is no better, and in fact in place a whole lot worse..

13 May 2015
I agree with 289, this Vignale conceit will probably be quietly dropped in 2 years. Ford should focus on making all their customers feel welcome, not just a small % of them.

13 May 2015
What I don't get is why they did this at all. It doesn't matter how much leather you put inside of it, its still a Mandeo, the ultimate rep-mobile and "bored with life" car that your friend's dad owns. Instead of tarting up a Mondeo, they should've just launched the Lincoln brand here.

14 May 2015
Er - But what would that Lincoln have been? A tarted up Mondeo probably. In fact that is exactly what the Lincoln MKZ, the sister car to the Ford Fusion - the US version of the Mondeo is. By the way if you think the sort of car one drives demonstrates how tired or otherwise one is of life - you need to get a life!

13 May 2015
The sad thing is that the Vignale spec makes the Mondeo an even better car than a BMW 3-Series that the 'standard' model and yet it will never achieve the success it aspirations and excellence deserves and will only sell in minuscule numbers, compared to the BMW which will outsell the Vignale in droves. It's clear the Vignale, and indeed the stand Mondeos, drive brilliantly and yet rides better than the BMW, is more refined, is more spacious and has a better quality interior. This merely serves to show that the 3 Series is little more than overpriced, cheap feeling and average tat. Also, what won't help Ford is that I suspect that all these Vignale 'car' features could so easily have been introduced to the rest of the range with minimal price increasing, not only enhancing an already great car but also not placing the Mondeo out of it's depth with that price, which the Vignale does. Still, it's better value and a much better car than the 3 Series.

13 May 2015
Saucerer wrote:

The sad thing is that the Vignale spec makes the Mondeo an even better car than a BMW 3-Series that the 'standard' model and yet it will never achieve the success it aspirations and excellence deserves and will only sell in minuscule numbers, compared to the BMW which will outsell the Vignale in droves. It's clear the Vignale, and indeed the stand Mondeos, drive brilliantly and yet rides better than the BMW, is more refined, is more spacious and has a better quality interior. This merely serves to show that the 3 Series is little more than overpriced, cheap feeling and average tat. Also, what won't help Ford is that I suspect that all these Vignale 'car' features could so easily have been introduced to the rest of the range with minimal price increasing, not only enhancing an already great car but also not placing the Mondeo out of it's depth with that price, which the Vignale does. Still, it's better value and a much better car than the 3 Series.

I'm sorry but you can't say the 3 series is little more than overpriced, cheap feeling and average tat. That is an absolutely ridiculous comment.

I agree that this is an excellent car, however, it is not as sharp as the previous Mondeo let alone the 3 series which is a far better driving car. Pick a 3 series without oversized alloys and the ride is fine too: an Audi A4 it is not. I agree, however, that the 3 series doesn't feel particularly premium inside. If you compare it to a 5 series, it is much poorer. However, the Mondeo does not have a better quality interior. Close yes (which in itself says something about the 3 series) but certainly no better.

Finally, the price. You can get a 325d SE for that money. No comparison I'm afraid.

14 May 2015
Is your expert view of these cars ride qualities from experience in the driving seat, or an arm chair reading AutoWHATexpressCAR. The vocabulary used certainly seems to suggest the latter!

13 May 2015
Will it be possible to buy the Titanium model with AWD?

what's life without imagination

13 May 2015
Is that 24-hour help line available to future buyers of the second-hand Mondeo, or is it just a one off. I hope it passes through owners so I can buy a 12 year old model when the day comes. I suspect the cars help line adviser will have commit suicide by then, and the scheme been scrapped as insane.

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