A Vig step up for Ford

Warwickshire Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE - By Robin Roberts

WHEN a gi­ant moves it may not be of­ten but ev­ery­one takes no­tice. Ford held onto the Vig­nale coach-build­ing name for 42 years be­fore ap­ply­ing it to a handfin­ished Mon­deo which ap­peared in 2016 and now it’s pick­ing up mo­men­tum and will be ap­pear­ing on more be­spoke cars.

Ford ac­quired the Vig­nale name along with Ghia in the early 1970s and while it quickly in­tro­duced the lat­ter, it parked the for­mer un­til 2015 and it was de­vel­oped for the lat­est medium-to-large car range for the fol­low­ing year.

Now scep­tics may think this would not work, but in fair­ness Ford has done a good job with its “coach­built” Mon­deo. It is brim­ming with the lat­est tech­nol­ogy and high qual­ity fit­tings and fin­ish nor­mally seen in far more ex­pen­sive ex­ec­u­tive cars.

There are eight mod­els in the range of saloon and es­tate styles in­clud­ing a hy­brid de­riv­a­tive with two and four wheel drive, petrol or two diesel en­gines, manual and two types of au­to­matic trans­mis­sion.

You would ex­pect a so­phis­ti­cated info-tain­ment sys­tem, cut­ting edge driv­ing aids and lux­u­ri­ous leather and bright trim, but sound-can­celling tech­nol­ogy in­clud­ing acous­tic glass is a sur­prise. Best of all, it works very well and brings higher re­fine­ment to the Mon­deo.

But Ford has cut cor­ners and to keep down the list price it makes you pay more for things like pri­vacy glass, heated steer­ing wheel, ac­tive park as­sist and city stop, which may be ex­pected on an ex­ec­u­tive car, but which you may not want in any case.

How­ever you do get a lot for your money nev­er­the­less in­clud­ing 18-inch al­loys and skinny spare tyre, park­ing sen­sors and re­vers­ing cam­era, lane as­sis­tance and fully pow­ered driver’s seat, eight-inch touch­screen as the face of the ad­vanced info-tain­ment sys­tem, pre­mium leather seats and wrapped na­celle.

The 2.0 turbo-diesel was not the most pow­er­ful for its size but it had a wide spread of de­liv­ery with rea­son­able ac­cel­er­a­tion, ut­terly com­posed mo­tor­way cruis­ing abil­ity and it re­turned over 40mpg with­out try­ing.

This car came with the six-speed se­quen­tial au­to­matic which pro­duced very smooth changes up or down and was quiet and easy to use with a sport­ing set­ting as well as nor­mal mode. The four-wheel-drive sys­tem is com­pletely au­to­matic too and needs no driver in­put.

I liked the steer­ing and brakes feed­back. The sec­ondary con­trols were sen­si­bly laid out although the col­umn stalks and gear­box pad­dles were hid­den by the wide wheel­spokes but they all op­er­ated with a re­as­sur­ing firm­ness.

A large cen­tral con­sole car­ried the up­per screen and lower push-but­tons for heat­ing and ven­ti­la­tion to back up what was on the screen in a sort of belt-and-brac­ers ap­proach, which I liked as it meant you’re not dis­tracted too much when driv­ing and us­ing them.

The cli­mate con­trol was straight­for­ward and worked well through­out the car, with pow­ered win­dows but no sun­roof.

Od­dments pro­vi­sion was very good in front and back and there were plenty of power points to run an­cil­lar­ies.

Ac­cess was easy with key­less en­try, the doors opened wide and the aper­tures were big and you could eas­ily fit a child­seat if nec­es­sary. Room in the back was par­tic­u­larly gen­er­ous both for legs and shoul­ders, and the front seats had a good ad­just­ment range as well as pro­vid­ing good lo­ca­tion and they were all lux­u­ri­ously leather trimmed.

The big boot held a lot be­hind a low sill and its ca­pac­ity could be raised when the seat­backs were dropped, so it’s a re­ally good fam­ily car or busi­ness carry-all.

When laden you no­tice a drop off in the per­for­mance as it’s a big car for the diesel en­gine any­way but oth­er­wise it cov­ers ground eas­ily and eco­nom­i­cally, with pre­dictable and safe han­dling, ex­cel­lent grip and a gen­er­ally smooth ride even if you hear how hard the sus­pen­sion is work­ing.

Other me­chan­i­cal and wind noises are very low, or sound that way thanks to the lay­ered side win­dows.

Vis­i­bil­ity is gen­er­ally good with very bright wide beam and long range head­lights, big wipers and deep win­dows. The rear pil­lar is a big chunk of metal and does cre­ate a blindspot when pulling out or re­vers­ing and you need to ex­er­cise care but oth­er­wise its easy to ma­noeu­vre and helped by the park as­sist sys­tem if you want to use it.

The Vig­nale has only just been in­tro­duced and it’s go­ing to be dif­fi­cult to say how it will hold on to its higher value in the years ahead com­pared to more fa­mil­iar ex­ec­u­tive mod­els, but the exec grade Ford Mon­deo is, with­out doubt, good value in this sec­tor.

It’s cer­tainly a gi­ant step up for Ford.

TEST DRIVE FORD MON­DEO VIG­NALE

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