This is the Ford S-Max Vignale concept. What makes this MPV design study so curious is the fact it’s essentially a top-spec version of a car that isn’t even on sale yet.
What makes the Ford S-Max Vignale different to the S-Max concept from 2013?
Here’s the back story, Ford showed an S-Max ‘design study’ at the Frankfurt motor show in September 2013, which previewed the second-gen S-Max CAR spied testing earlier this year. Meanwhile, Ford is also working on a ‘Vignale’ line of cars – a sort of top-notch ownership experience which will attempt to rival the established German brands.
Vignale Fords will boast more metal exterior trim, bespoke alloy wheels, and better-trimmed interiors, with quilted leather and aluminium detailing. The idea was first floated with the Mondeo Vignale (also pictured, right).
This S-Max Vignale rides on 21-in polished alloy wheels, wears a new dark-finish hexagonal front grille, and gets a ‘menswear-inspired’ cabin featuring hand-stitched leather said to evoke the style of luxury furniture.
It’s a tarted-up MPV with ideas above its station?
Ford is insistent that its Vignale line, which will come on stream in 2015, isn’t just a posh trim level aimed at shoehorning junior execs out of BMWs and Audis. That’s where the upgraded ownership experience comes in. Ford estimates 10-15% of its large cars are sold in top-spec trim, and that these customer demand a higher class of service from their dealer.
So, buy a Vignale Ford and you’re entitled to a ‘specially trained relationship manager’ instead of your common-or-garden salesman. This individual will be responsible for the customer from the moment they enter the dealership, right through the test-drive, purchasing and collection process. When your Vignale needs servicing or repair, Ford arranges its collection and delivery around its owner, rather than the more normal waiting list at your local garage.
Sounds rather appealing…
In effect, it’s a return to old-fashioned personalised, polite customer service. Set to be based largely in metropolitan city locations, Vignale dealers are aiming to raise Ford’s brand perception and the quality of its overall dealer network – factors which Ford reckons plays the biggest role in influencing a potential buyer’s eventual buying decision.
It’s an ambitious but honourable-sounding plot to raise Ford’s game in the squeezed mainstream car sector: we’ll find out if it’s a successful one when the new Mondeo Vignale arrives in selected UK dealers from mid-2015. Prices will list above Ford’s current flagship ‘Titanium X’ cars, so expect £30k+ tags for both the Mondeo Vignale and S-Max Vignale.
Ford has confirmed a production-version of the S-Max Vignale concept seen here will be the second Vignale model, and hints that the specification could be rolled out further into the Ford range. A Fiesta Vignale to take on the Mini Cooper? Ford isn’t ruling it out…