Ford moves upmarket with premium Mondeo
Ford targets families with new MPVs, and premium buyers with their luxury trim level, writes Geraldine Herbert
With almost its entire range refreshed or revised, including key models like the Focus and Mondeo, it's been a busy few months for Ford. Last week a premium version of the Mondeo - the Vignale - and two new versions of their mid- size and large MPVs, the S-Max and Galaxy arrived in showrooms around the country. Ford's S-Max has long been regarded as the driver's seven-seater, and despite some tough competition, the new version only confirms this reputation.
On the road, it handles well, with little body roll, the steering is light, and the suspension cosseting. All the engines on offer are quiet and road noise isn't an issue either, so expect any high-volume distractions to come from those inside the car!
It also boasts advanced technology for entertainment, comfort and safety. Most S-Max owners are likely to opt for a diesel engine so there are four 2.0-litre units to choose from and one petrol, a 1.5-litre EcoBoost. Two trims will be on offer with the new S-Max - Zetec and Titanium - and prices start at €35,760 for the 120PS 2-litre diesel, and the automatic option is €2,000 more than manual. For the first time the new S-Max will also be available with Ford's Intelligent All-Wheel Drive.
While large MPVs have fallen out of favour with many families, if you need seven seats more than just occasionally, it's hard to beat the traditional people-carrier. Ford's Galaxy is one of the more pleasant seven-seaters in which to spend your time and, on the road, its handling has long been a strong point. Behind the wheel, it feels considerably smaller and more agile than its size would suggest.
Parents with young families will particularly welcome the addition of Ford's hands-free liftgate that allows parents to easily open the boot door even if they are juggling shopping bags, pushchairs, and toddlers by using a kicking motion beneath the rear bumper.
Engines and trim options are the same as those on the S-Max, with prices starting at €38,760 rising to €52,035.
Available as either a saloon or an estate, the new Vignale range is Ford's answer to the migration of blue-oval buyers to premium brands. The name is inspired by Alfredo Vignale, who was one of the first coachbuilders, or carrozzeria, to see a car as something that could be personalised with unique, made-to-measure designs.
Aimed squarely at compact premium rivals, the Mondeo Vignale comes fully loaded with premium hand-stitched leather seats, SYNC2 with 8ins touchscreen, active noise control, 19ins alloys and 10-way power seats.
Prices start at €43,900 and engine options include a 2-litre EcoBoost 180PS or 240PS and 2-litre diesel 180PS and 210PS in manual and automatic. It will form a sub-brand within Ford and an S-Max Vignale will be added to the range early in 2016. Inside it doesn't feel that different from a regular Mondeo, but Ford is keen to emphasise that the overall ownership experience is better too, free collection of the car for servicing and a 'personal relationship' manager are all part of the package.
On the road, the Mondeo Vignale is a very good and refined car but it is hard to justify the more than €6,000 premium over the Titanium equivalent.