Priced from £19,795 Release date Now
In case you hadn’t realised, the Ford Fiesta is no longer a cheap small car. You can’t buy a bargain-basement version for only a little over £10,000, as you can with the rival Vauxhall Corsa; instead, Ford has the Ka+ to fill the budget end of the class.
A new Fiesta, in our recommended 1.0T 100PS Zetec guise, will set you back more than £15,000, but the fact remains that the Fiesta is perennially the best-selling new car in the UK, and many buyers aren’t shy about going for the higher trim levels with plenty of goodies fitted to them.
So there’s a certain amount of logic in Ford’s decision to extend the latest Fiesta range even further upwards by introducing a new, exclusive Vignale trim level.
The Fiesta is the fifth Ford model to be given the Vignale treatment, after the Mondeo executive car, Kuga and Edge SUVs and S-Max MPV. Buyers of Vignale models can expect the sort of ownership experience you’d normally associate with a luxury brand like Lexus, with personal attention from their dealer and access to time-saving services such as home collection and delivery of their car come servicing time, while Ford claims the cars themselves offer levels of quality and craftsmanship comparable with those from premium brands.
Over and above the previous highest trim level, Titanium X, the Fiesta Vignale comes with full Black Ruby leather seats (featuring a distinctive embossed hexagon pattern) which are heated, as is the leather-wrapped steering wheel. Other standard features include a sliding panoramic glass roof, a reversing camera with rear parking sensors and posh kick plates and floor mats inside, along with new 10-spoke, 17in alloy wheels and a bespoke grille, foglights and bumpers to distinguish the Vignale from other Fiestas on the outside.
As with other Fiesta variants, the Vignale is available in three-door or five-door bodystyles and with a choice of four engines: 99bhp, 123bhp and 138bhp versions of Ford’s turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder Ecoboost and a 118bhp 1.5 TDCi diesel. The diesel is prohibitively expensive and the least powerful 1.0T comes paired with an automatic gearbox only, so unless you really want an auto, you might as well splash out and combine this range-topping model with the range-topping 138bhp engine, given that the 1.0T 125PS version is only £300 cheaper to buy outright.
‘Cheap’ is hardly the correct way to describe the Vignale, though, because it starts at a hefty £19,795. That’s almost identical to the price of an Audi A1 1.4 TFSI S line, so it’s definitely at the premium end of the small car class. More significantly, you can also get a bigger Ford Focus with the same engine, in a well-equipped mid-range trim, for barely any more money.
2017 Ford Fiesta Vignale on the road
As with any Fiesta, the Vignale is a thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding car to drive, with sweet handling, sharp steering and rock-solid composure, all of which inspire confidence and encourage you to chuck it about on twisty roads. The front end grips strongly in corners, and there’s a sense of playfulness and sophistication to the car’s handling that sets it apart from its rivals.
The ride is composed and compliant on the standard 17in wheels but becomes slightly lumpier and noisier on the optional 18ins (a £400 upgrade). We’d therefore recommend sticking with the smaller wheels, although it’s still far from uncomfortable on the bigger ones.
Ford’s turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine is a cracker, as always, especially in the most powerful 138bhp guise tested here. It’s smooth, responsive and quiet most of the time, yet it emits a characterful, throaty growl when you rev it hard. It’s very efficient, too, with an average fuel consumption figure of 62.8mpg and a CO2 output of 102g/km, beating the A1 1.4 TFSI and matching the Mini Cooper – two premium rivals.
Although a 0-62mph time of 9.0sec isn’t as quick as that of the Cooper or A1, the Fiesta belies any on-paper shortfall with rorty and flexible performance; where it matters, in the gears, it pulls eagerly and never feels out of its depth, even at fast motorway speeds.
The Fiesta's six-speed manual gearbox shifts sweetly; in fact, all the major controls are ideally weighted and slick to use. The brakes are excellent, too: sharp and strong, with good pedal feel.
Tyre noise is prominent on coarse surfaces, especially if the car is riding on 18in wheels, but otherwise there’s little to complain about in terms of refinement, despite the potential for extra wind noise due to the presence of the panoramic roof.
2017 Ford Fiesta Vignale interior
Here’s where the Vignale justifies its relatively high price and distinguishes itself most from the rest of the Fiesta range. Its interior is on a whole different level of quality and ambience compared with its stablemates; it really does feel like a sumptuous, premium product.
The Black Ruby colour of the leather upholstery and dashboard and door trims is dark, with a purple tinge that gives the Vignale’s interior a rich, almost decadent vibe (and makes you crave Black Forest gateau), while the dashboard top is covered by a plush leather material and there’s double stitching everywhere, as you might see on a luxury car. The Fiesta has never before looked so lavish inside.
The seats themselves very comfortable; in fact, the seating position is slightly better than that of the sporty Fiesta ST-Line, because they aren’t quite as thickly padded and allow you to sit slightly lower if desired. All of the seat adjustment is manual, but thankfully there’s a rotary knob to fine-tune the seatback position, rather than a less convenient ratchet lever.
The rest of the interior is fundamentally the same as that of any other Fiesta, but that’s no bad thing, because the latest model is a huge step forward in layout compared with its predecessor. The 8.0in infotainment touchscreen is bright, responsive and reasonably easy to operate – provided you’re stationary at the time. On the move, it’s devilishly hard to hit anything accurately, because there’s nowhere to rest your wrist to provide support. It’s almost necessary to grab the top of the screen and press things with your thumb.
As with any current Fiesta, there’s plenty of head and leg room up front – despite the panoramic roof – but it’s much tighter in the rear seats, with very little leg room left for an adult to sit behind a 6ft tall-plus driver. The boot is smaller than that of conventional rivals such as the Seat Ibiza, but compared with the A1 and Mini Cooper, the Fiesta is relatively generous in that respect.
As we said at the start (and as you’d expect for the money), the Vignale’s standard kit list is extensive, including Ford’s latest Sync3 infotainment system with the 8.0in touchscreen and a premium Bang & Olufsen sound system.
Even more impressive is the number of advanced driver aids that are available. As well as having essentials such as automatic emergency braking as standard, the Fiesta can be had with blindspot and cross-traffic alerts (£350), a highly worthwhile driver assistance pack (£200) that includes the most sophisticated pedestrian detection system yet fitted to a Ford, distance alert and adaptive cruise control, and an improved auto-park assistance pack (also £200). From a practical point of view, you might also want to consider an adjustable boot floor for £75.
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