Last word first
We now live in a world where demand and expectation form the desire and need of consumers. Heretofore, the choice limited our fantasies, but not anymore. Across every segment there is choice as never before, evident by the majority of sales happening in the middle and upper trim grades.
This has led to manufacturers now offering high-grade variants to existing models or a completely new brand range; Citroen with their DS; Toyota with Lexus; Honda have Acura; Nissan has Infiniti.
In their response to meet the demand of those seeking luxury, Ford have decided to add the Vignale grade to many of their mainstream models, Fiesta, S-MAX, Mondeo, Edge and Kuga now available wearing bespoke clothing outside and in.
Model: Kuga Vignale
Engine: 2.0 TDCi, 4-cylinder
Power: 150 PS
Drive: Front Wheel Drive
Transmission: 6-Speed Manual
Format: 4-Door, 5-Seats
Co2 emissions: 122 g/km
Road Tax Band: B1
Annual Road Tax: €270
Boot Space: 406 litres; 1,602 litres with rear seats folded
Entry price for Kuga: from €33,345
Price for Vignale model from €42,325
(Prices exclude delivery and related charges)
Some of the Competition
A risky decision on one side, as it places this model up against established premium brands like BMW (X1), Audi (Q3), Mercedes-Benz (GLA), Land Rover (Evoque), Volvo, (XC60), Jaguar (F-Pace), and Land Rover (Sport), not to forget offerings from Honda (CR-V), Mazda (CX-5), Skoda (Kodiaq), VW (Tiguan), Peugeot (3008) – no pressure then?
Will/should the punter buy a posh Ford or should they put their dosh into a ‘proper posh’ car, or can Ford deliver a rival into the premium segment where they don’t have a presence, but do have a demand.
The Kuga’s road stance is easy on the eye, the Vignale trim distinguishing it visually via the front grill, with its hexagonal, honeycombed design and tasty alloy wheels. The overall outer finish is beyond criticism.
Anyone who has sat into the latest Kuga will feel right at home in the Vignale. Occupants sit onto its bespoke piped leather seating, its pattern mimicking the hexagonal, honeycombed front grill. The overall feeling is one of familiarity, yet different. Ford’s attention to detail on the Vignale range during assembly and quality control is geared to giving a bespoke feel to your choice, an effective blueprinted model that has been forensically checked prior to being dispatched out of final assembly. I did find the seats need some breaking in, they then felt more supple and supportive.
On the road:
Running on one of the finest driving chassis available, the ‘ordinary’ Kuga drives very well. With extra soundproofing and acoustic glass, the Vignale delivers a quieter cabin, allowing for conversation uninterrupted from outside interference.
The drive experience of the Vignale is not in the territory of sporting, but responds better to a smooth progressive approach, as distinct from chucking it into corners like an RS. The driving position is very good and overall the Vignale is a very pleasant place to be, the overall ambience certainly elevated from the Titanium trim, itself not a bad place to be.
With its 150bhp turbodiesel, the Kuga can dispense with serious amounts of tarmac with little encouragement. Personally, I’d like it in automatic, in keeping with its luxury status, not just for lazy convenience, but with the ease of reverting to manual via the paddle-shifters, it would place the Kuga Vignale in line with its competitors.
It is certainly quiet on the move and in keeping with the current buyer-love of high-rise Crossovers, is good company on the back roads, offering increased visibility and secure handling.
Kuga Vignale Features include:
18" alloy wheels
Vignale body styling kit
Bi-Xenon headlights with jet wash
LED tail lamps
Full leather seats
10 Way power adjustable driver's seat
Vignale leather steering wheel
SYNC3 system with 9 Sony speakers
Premium floor mats with double stitching
Vignale front scuff plates
Vignale leather interior finishing
Rain-sensing front windscreen wipers
Quickclear heated windscreen
Auto-dimming rear-view mirror
Power folding mirrors
Electronic parking brake
Dual Electronic Automatic Temperature Control
Lasting impression: The biggest issue with Vignale is the perception that Ford is entering territory with a temerity that is outside its brief as a provider of everyday motor vehicles.
Having spent many miles in the sibling Mondeo Vignale, in both estate and hatchback, I found them well capable of covering the kilometres in either the 180 or 210bhp turbo-diesels. The Kuga received very positive comments by occupants and voyeurs – right up to the point where the price was mentioned, the resistance to accepting Ford’s ability/right to build a premium car definitely cause for discussion. If it carried a different nom-de-plume, one can only wonder if the reaction would be the same.