We’ve already run you through the heritage of the Vignale name, and Fiesta, so you know the score by now. The latest Fiesta is Ford squarely aiming at that top spot in the sales chart yet again, ready to follow on from the runaway successes of its predecessors. Now the Fiesta badge has been twinned with an even older name, as Vignale joins the team to bring that spark of extra refinement to the mix. Vignale has become Ford’s new posh-spec arm, taking the family-oriented motors that come from Dagenham and giving them a touch of polish (and some diamond stitching) ready for a more high-end market. The return of Vignale is a welcome one: after years of obscurity, it’s good that the coachbuilder which produced some of the most striking and beautiful Ferraris of the 1950s is a household name again.
The Fiesta is the first of the next generation of Fords to get the Vignale treatment. We’ve recently driven the Edge and Mondeo Vignale editions which still retain the last generation Ford interior, but with the latest Fiesta only arriving on our shores in 2017, it becomes the first of Ford’s core range to be fitted with its latest upholstery. Even without the Vignale treatment it’s an immediate step up in both quality and design over the hugely successful outgoing model and acts as a better base for the Vignale trim upgrades than before. Tick the Vignale option and it comes a giant panoramic roof, the trademark diamond stitching, thick front and rear velour floor mats and a rear parking camera. Outside the Vignale is detailed with a series of “v” patterns picked out in the grille, Vignale-only 17-inch, eight-spoke alloys and a slightly redefined rear bumper. The changes have not been to everyone’s taste on other Vignale models, but the Fiesta seems to take these upmarket accoutrements well. Rather than feeling like a more basic car that’s had a bit of a spruce up, the Fiesta Vignale feels well designed inside and out.
While Vignale spec hasn’t changed anything under the skin, the car benefits from the fact that the latest Fiesta, like its predecessors, is an excellent drive. Under the bonnet is Ford’s always excellent turbocharged 1.0-litre three-pot, producing a perfectly usable 123bhp and pushing the Vignale to 62mph in 9.9 seconds. The engine has always been a masterpiece of extracting power from almost nothing and mated with the latest Fiesta remains one of the best around. The power comes smoothly, with very little sign of the engine’s blown nature and it remains so quiet you sometimes forget it’s not a smooth straight-six pulling you along. In a world of less and less communication for drivers, the Ford steps out of line and demands to be heard. The steering is beautifully weighted and marvellously talkative, reading everything the roads of Sussex could throw at it, without ever being thrown out of whack with the judder of the county’s plethora of potholes. For a family hatch, the gearchange can be remarkably rewarding, and the whole drive remains at the absolute pinnacle of its class.
Ford is hoping this mixture of sporty handling and luxury styling will open up the brand to a new, more affluent market, potentially even bringing some customers who have until now been of a more Germanic persuasion. This car may well be up to that task. The Vignale spec really makes sense when it’s grafted onto the excellent new Fiesta. Inside that excellent new interior feels well-suited to the suite of higher quality materials that Vignale brings. Outside the finishing touches may not be everyone’s immediate taste, but definitely, help the Fiesta stand out from the crowded small hatch market. How many will be tempted into the Vignale range is yet to be seen, but if you fancy that little step up in class the Fiesta Vignale is ready for you.