► New Ford Fiesta Vignale review
► We road test the luxury Fiesta
► Pricey and petite: from £19,345
We’ve already driven the new 2017 Ford Fiesta, the eighth-generation supermini that’s designed to recapture the top spot in the UK sales charts for the Blue Oval. But while a £14k Zetec might make a lot of sense, does the same apply to the top-of-the-range Ford Fiesta Vignale, costing a whisker shy of 20 grand and, in some cases, comfortably over that threshold?
It’s the first time Ford’s new luxury badge has been applied to its high-selling small car. It’s already available on the Mondeo, S-Max and Kuga and its launch on Fiesta reflects the company’s ambition to offer posher, higher-margin models on all its key ranges, even at the lower reaches.
Ford is keen to move away from the bargain basement of every sector - and inject some fashionable desirability. Read our full Ford Fiesta Vignale review to find out if they’ve succeeded.
A posh supermini? With a Ford badge?
That’s the idea, yes. They’re bidding to compete with the growing ranks of petite-but-posh small cars: think a rival to the likes of the DS3, Mini and even the Smart family of tiddlers. Size is no longer a barrier to quality, see.
Mechanically, the Vignale Fiestas are all-but-identical to their Style/Zetec/Titanium siblings, but there’s a smattering of upgraded equipment and cosmetic flourishes to justify the jump in price, claims Ford.
What do you get extra on a Fiesta Vignale?
There’s basically the full English of extra equipment foisted upon the V-badged models. In addition to what you get on the already generously equipped Titanium X (keyless entry, climate control, traffic sign recognition) you can add:
- 17-inch, 10-spoke alloy wheels
- Satin-surround Vignale radiator grille
- Unique Vignale bumpers front and rear
- Front foglamps with cornering function
- Rear-view parking camera and sensors
- Quilted ruby leather upholstery and steering wheel
- Heated front seats and steering wheel
- Opening panoramic sunroof
Panoramic sunroof? Nice…
Well, yes and no… bathing the cabin in daylight is a neat luxury, but this full-length, opening glass roof sadly robs headroom so badly we find it hard to recommend. I’m 6ft 2in and it gobbles space around the sides of the front-row headlining; switch to the rear seats and there’s a marked deterioration.
It’s a real shame, because the Fiesta tries so hard to make retro sunroofs cool again. To compound matters, engineers quietly complain that the glass roof adds 20kg of heft high up, to the detriment of handling and neat body control…
The sunroof is standard on the Vignale spec and cannot be deleted.
What about the rest of the cabin? High-street Gucci or under-the-arches Chinese knock-off?
It’s ok in here. We’re not wild about the quality, but the soft-prod dashboard lining is a step up from more humble Fiestas (it looks like leather, with real stitching, but isn’t cow hide) and the brilliant new tablet-style Sync3 touchscreen (standard from Titanium spec upwards) is given a Vignale makeover here to remind you of your investment.
The basics work very well: there are stacks of big car features available in all Fiestas - such as B&O stereo, radar adaptive cruise control and auto-shuttering, non-dazzle headlamps - and thus equipped the Vignale feels on the money from a tech perspective.
But start tapping around the cabin and you’re never a contact point away from cheaper materials that pop the Vignale dream: the nastily cheap-feeling glovebox, the disappointing door grabs, the fit and finish of the boot lining - all will remind real premium customers that this is a volume brand reaching up, rather than a quality brand extending down.
How does the 2017 Ford Fiesta Vignale drive?
If you value driving dynamics - and we do, in this twilight of the car as analogue and potentially fun personal transport - there is much better news. The posh Fiesta drives every bit as sharply as lesser models, which is to say it’s class-leadingly good.
The ride on the Vignale’s 17in alloys is plump and well damped around town, and you can still hustle the Fiesta along your favourite back road with abandon. Steering feel, damping precision and body control make this a classic Ford small-car chassis. Not quite as sharp as the ST-Line warm hatch, but not far off.
Performance? The Vignale is available with all three 1.0 Ecoboost petrol engines (choose from 99bhp, 123bhp or 138bhp) or the more powerful 118bhp 1.5 Duratorq diesel. We’d favour the petrols, unless you do mega miles. The downsized three-cylinder 1.0 is a mega motor in both 125ps and 140ps trim: sweet, loves to rev and offers serious punch in either guise.
The 1.5 diesel, which costs up to £21,225 in Vignale spec, feels a touch nose-heavier and has a less wieldy gearchange, but has a pleasing long-legged gait, decent performance and we averaged 51mpg even when we were absolutely caning it. Impressive.
Should you buy a Ford Fiesta Vignale? There’s plenty of reasons why you might consider one. If you’re sold on Fiesta ownership and want some added luxury, it’s a perfectly good car. You can now buy Vignales at any Ford dealership and we suspect there’ll be some bargains along in good time.
But is it worth the thick end of £20k, when we know the quality - perceived and real - available at that price point elsewhere? Sadly, many buyers will realise that it’s probably not.
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