Ford is planning a 2016 onslaught of its new upmarket Vignale products. The company has already revealed the luxurious new Mondeo Vignale model and it’s said that the next Ford to get the Vignale treatment will be the S-MAX. GRR has learnt that at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show in March, Ford will unveil more upmarket Vignale versions.
These models are likely to be Kuga and Edge SUV derivatives with ‘lifestyle’ cars such as the C-MAX getting the premium Vignale treatment later in the year. It’s part of a major new campaign to be called Brand Breakthrough, which will encourage people to think of Ford as more than a manufacturer of mass market motors.
In an exclusive interview with GRR, Ford’s first Vignale manager, Vicky Allen said: ‘A lot of our existing Mondeo customers choose the top specification Titanium and Titanium X models. If in the past they wanted to move up to a more luxurious product they would move away from Ford. With Vignale we can offer them a more bespoke product and service.’
Ford is currently on track to hit its target of 1,000 Mondeo Vignale sales in the first year. This will make up around five per cent of all Mondeos sold. It is planning similar proportions with Vignale versions of other models. The new range of cars will stand out through chrome bodywork details and unique wheels outside. Inside they will have hand-finished premium leather upholstery.
Mondeo Vignales benefit from acoustic glass designed to keep road noise out. This will work with Active Noise Cancellation, a system that employs microphones to monitor in-cabin sound. These send signals to the Active Noise Cancellation module, which then transmits opposing sound waves. The result is a much more hushed environment for drivers and passengers.
But being a Vignale customer isn’t just about driving a car that stands above other Fords. It’s also about a unique customer service. For a start Vignale models will only be sold through new FordStores. There are currently 57 of these in the UK with a total of 70 planned. They are unique areas within existing Ford dealerships that will also sell Mustangs and Focus RS models. ‘Owners of other models won’t be excluded from these parts of the dealership,’ Allen said. ‘It’s just a way of differentiating between regular models and Vignales.’
Anyone who buys a Mondeo Vignale can either collect it or have it delivered to their work or home. It comes included with a complementary car wash and owners will be assigned a relationship manager. Allen explained: ‘The relationship manager will oversee every element of owning the car and because our customers only have to deal with one person at the dealership, we think they will save people quite a lot of time.’ Vignale owners will also benefit from a One Call Service. This gives them a single phone number to ring if they have any problems with their car.
The big question is: will launching this new nameplate work? After all, the premium model market place is a crowded one and new entries such as PSA’s DS are making it even more so. Allen said: ‘If you look at the number of Mondeo owners who go for the top specification it suggests a healthy market and already 50 per cent of our buyers are conquests from competitors. The reason Vignale works is because we have a lot of coverage across the country and will have a range of models based on existing products. The volumes involved makes it viable to train up the support staff and offer the service that FordStores will provide.’
Photography courtesy of Ford