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First Drive

2015 Ford Mondeo Vignale 2.0 TDCi 210 Powershift review

We've already tested the 180PS all-wheel-drive Mondeo Vignale on Rome’s roads. Now we've driven the more powerful diesel automatic Vignale in the UK

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The Mondeo Vignale is Ford’s attempt at a compact executive car that targets the luxurious end of the market, with manufacturers such as BMW, Audi and Jaguar in its sights.

This plush version of the Mondeo is aimed at motorists who aspire for a little more comfort and luxury but who don't want to break the bank. As a result, the Vignale comes with an extensive equipment list, including LED lights, heated seats and an infotainment system with an 8.0in display, DAB, Bluetooth, satellite navigation and a Sony sound system.

While on the outside the Vignale looks very much like a Mondeo, styling tweaks make it visually different from the rest of the range. These include lashings of chrome trim, Vignale badges and the range’s design signature: the hexagonal grille and seat patterns.

Unlike the conventional Mondeo with its practical hatch opening, the Vignale is only available as a four-door saloon or as an estate, which Ford says is down to its ambitions to target the premium executive market.

However, Ford is looking to provide not only a premium car but also a premium service. For instance, Vignale owners are treated to a 24/7 customer helpline line, complementary car washes, collection and delivery for service appointments and a relationship manager to help configure their Vignale at one of the 55 dealers who currently offer the car.

There are a number of engines to choose from, with the all-wheel drive 177bhp 2.0-litre diesel likely to be the big seller for this range. There's also a hybrid, a 237bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol and, as tested here, a front-wheel drive and automatic-only 207bhp 2.0-litre diesel.

What’s the 2015 Ford Mondeo Vignale 2.0 TDCi 210 Powershift like to drive?

The Vignale receives no mechanical changes or tweaks over the Mondeo, so as you would expect it drives very much like the rest of the Mondeo range, with its steering proving weighty and accurate.

Even at low speeds the weight of the steering doesn’t compromise the ease with which this big saloon can be manoeuvred, with the Vignale feeling dainty and agile in tight situations. Placing the Mondeo is helped further helped by front and rear parking sensors and a reversing camera as standard.

The 2.0-litre diesel engine in this model provides around 30bhp more than the entry-level unit in the 180PS version, but that doesn’t mean the car feels noticeably quicker. The Vignale is best suited to smoother progress. Squeezing the throttle hard creates a not particularly pleasant hrashy note from the engine.

As for refinement elsewhere, tyre and wind noise is well contained by the additional sound deadening on the Vignale over the standard Mondeo. This is also helped by the active noise cancelling system that Ford has developed with Sony. It uses three microphones to eliminate any unwanted noises and vibrations from the cabin.

The Vignale we tested was mated to Ford's six-speed Powershift dual-clutch automatic gearbox, which moves through its gears calmly enough – as long as you're working it at a relatively sedate pace. However when pushed, the gearbox favours dropping down a gear to help momentum rather than using the torque available from low revs, and proceeds to hold on to that gear for too long.

The Vignale uses the same suspension set-up as the Mondeo, although we tested the car on larger 18in alloy wheels and found it offers a mostly comfortable ride. Bigger intrusions and cracks in the road cause noise and vibration in the cabin, but it's never enough to unsettle the car or become too uncomfortable.

What’s the 2015 Ford Mondeo Vignale 2.0 TDCi 210 Powershift like inside?

The luxury feel Ford is trying to portray with the Mondeo Vignale comes across in places in the cabin, with leather lavishly applied to the dashboard, centre console and seats.

Ford is keen to point out that the panels are all hand-stitched, and the interior, along with the rest of the Vignale, is subjected to an additional 100 checks compared to a standard Mondeo.

The materials further down are a mix of hard plastics, which have been added for durability rather than for luxury. The seats are comfortable in the front, with the driver’s seat offering enough electrical adjustment, while the passenger side is manual as standard.

The rear provides enough head and leg room for two adults. There is room for a third to be accommodated on shorter journeys, but the transmission tunnel intrudes into the cabin. The boot isn’t as accessible as that of the hatchback Mondeo and has a fairly high lip, which makes putting heavier items in a challenge. The rear seats do fold down in a 60/40 split, but don’t lie quite flat.

The infotainment system consists of the standard Mondeo's more expensive Sony touchscreen unit with sat-nav, and although it is easy to use, it doesn’t feel as intuitive or as quick as BMW’s iDrive system or Audi's MMI. That said, it holds its own against Jaguar's touchscreen system.

The climate control and heat seat functions both have dedicated buttons on the centre console, which are large enough to find with ease, but, as with other Fords, the dashboard seems a little cluttered with buttons.

Should I buy one?

Not really. As we mentioned earlier, most buyers will be company car drivers who will find the Viganale's price too close to that of an equally well-equipped Audi A4 or even BMW 520d automatic, let alone a BMW 3 Series. All are better cars than the Vignale in key areas.

Sure, the Vignale's cabin is certainly a nicer place to be than a standard Mondeo’s and there's lots of standard equipment thrown in, but overall it lacks the same feel and quality as that of an Audi or BMW. The problem for retail customers is that the resale values of the Vignale aren’t likely to be strong, and with that in mind, their money would be better spent on the German competition.

Ultimately, the compact executive class is extremely closely fought by very capable participants, and Audi's recently launched new A4 has shown another leap in quality and refinement. Unfortunately, as one of the more expensive Vignales in the range, it tries but fails to make sense among them.

What Car? says...

Rivals

Audi A4

BMW 3 Series

Ford Mondeo 2.0 TDCi 210 Powershift

Engine size 2.0-litre diesel

Price from Β£31,595

Power 207bhp

Torque 332lb ft

0-62mph 7.9 seconds

Top speed 145mph

Fuel economy 56.5mpg

CO2 130g/km