New top-specification badged Vignales, named after an Italian coachbuilder acquired in 1973, are Ford's latest tool for slowing customer desertion to the German brands.
And to further tempt company car drivers –particularly user-choosers – to stay with the blue oval, it is promising a more personal, premium experience for Vignale customers.
This will include a Vignale relationship manager as the single contact for any queries and service bookings, guaranteed free collection and delivery for all aftersales bookings and a free car wash every month. There will also be dedicated discrete waiting areas with designer leather furniture in the 55 designated FordStores.
All this is because Ford wants the Vignale driver to feel a little bit special, to correspond with ownership of Ford’s premium grade car. Vignale’s roll-out starts in September.
To make a premium-grade Mondeo Vignale, each car is hand-finished in a special centre at Ford’s Valencia assembly plant. It features superior refinement, such as hexagonal quilted leather upholstery and dashboard and an active noise cancellation system which uses three cabin microphones to monitor engine noise in the interior and directs opposing sound waves through the audio system to cancel out engine noise and improve the cabin ambience. Wind noise is also reduced by the use of acoustic glass.
The result is a remarkably quiet and comfortable car, even with a powerful diesel engine under the bonnet. It is still recognisably a Mondeo, although that Vignale designation means it comes with 18-inch chrome alloys, chrome door details and bespoke grille with the hexagonal design. The Vignale trim is available on the four-door saloon from £29,795, with estate cars a £1,250 premium.
Jon Wellsman, customer services director at Ford of Britain, hopes Vignale will retain customers, particularly corporate user-choosers, who've already had a couple of high spec Mondeo or S-Max models and are thinking of swapping into a premium brand. They are expected to represent 70% of Ford Vignale Mondeo sales.
The carmaker also hopes the new launch will win some conquest sales. "We want customers to feel delighted with the car and very, very pleased with the level of care and expertise from their FordStore dealer," said Wellsman. "From a fleet perspective, our aim is to position Vignale at a very competitive monthly payment and, given the very positive reaction from the residual value providers, we hope to position it from around £300 per month."
Early indications from the RV providers is that they will give it an uplift in percentage terms above the standard Mondeo. Vignale Mondeo will not be submitted to the short-cycle daily rental or Ford management car segments which may boost registrations at the expense of residual values. Meanwhile, the Vignale benefits are transferable to the second owner.