► Ford Vignale Mondeo unveiled
► New upmarket family car for £29k
► Blue Oval guns for premium players
This is more than just another poshed-up Ghia or Titanium trimline; the new Ford Vignale Mondeo unveiled today signals an attempt by the Blue Oval to inch its products upmarket - nibbling into the space occupied by the Germans.
Every Vignale model will be 'hand-finished by a dedicated team of craftspeople,' according to Ford, giving some extra polish to turn Mondeo from family car into object of desire.
Or so the theory goes. Have they succeeded, now you've seen the first production Vignale model in our photo gallery above? Be sure to let us know in the comments below.
So what makes a Vignale so special?
Ford will offer a choice of four-door saloon or estate Mondeo Vignales and each will be upgraded when they roll off the Valencia line in Spain. They'll be quieter and more luxuriously equipped than regular Mondeos, the company says, to justify their higher prices when sales start in May 2015. The makeover brings niceties such as 11-way massaging seats, bespoke colours, a distinctive Vignale grille and newly chromed door mirrors.
And, most importantly, Ford will offer an improved customer experience at a selection of more upmarket FordStores opening across the UK. Cars will be collected, delivered and valeted come servicing time and a 24-hour Vignale OneCall hotline is launched to handle customer queries.
And a new Vignale smartphone app will allow users to interact with their car, find where they've parked it and track down fuel stations.
Still... Mondeos for £29,045 and above?
It's part of Ford's drive to inch upmarket; the arrival of the Mustang sports car, Edge crossover and these new Vignale models will all propel the brand into £30k+ territory. Chunky profit margins await - if they can persuade buyers to make the step up.
The regular new Mondeo already features a host of clever technology, and Ford is accentuating this further on Vignale models. Active noise cancellation makes its European debut, using three microphones to measure ambient noise in the cabin and ping out cancelling waves back out through the 12-speaker Sony stereo to counter the disturbance.
Combined with extra soundproofing and acoustic glass, it should make the Mondeo much quieter. Interiors will be lifted with V-spec upgrades, too: Ford is using what it calls 'tuxedo-stitched quilted leather' for the seats and instrument panels.
Jim Farley, Ford executive vice president in Europe, said: 'Our vision for Vignale is to create a modern, contemporary upscale experience that makes Vignale a valued part of customers’ lives, starting with the Ford Vignale Mondeo, and later this year with introduction of the Ford Vignale S‑Max.'
Watch out: Vignale hangbags at dawn!
You can't launch an upmarket brand without a matching merchandise range. So, yes, here is the Vignale Collection, including a matching handbag. You'll be able to order this and more from the Vignale lounges.