The Mondeo has been a hugely important car for Ford in the UK through the years. Tony Blair built a successful election campaign around it, in the 90s it set new benchmarks for driving dynamics, handling and quality in the mid-sized saloon segment and sold by the bucketload. It’s even been a Bond car.
But the cars we buy and the way we buy them has changed dramatically in the last 20 years and a look at the number of Ford Mondeos on our roads is an illustration of that. In 2004 there were almost one million Mondeos registered in the UK and by the end of 2019 that number was down to 290,000.
Despite rumours of the model’s imminent demise spurred on by the phasing out of its American counterpart the Fusion, the Mondeo is very much still a going concern in the UK and there are even reports of a new model due in 2021, with ‘crossover styling cues’ in response to the popularity of crossover and SUV models in recent years.
However unfashionable the idea of a five-door, mid-size family car from a non-German manufacturer might be at the moment, there is no denying that the top-spec 2020 Ford Mondeo Vignale is an awful lot of car. So if you’re not looking to follow the herd by opting for an SUV, should you be considering this ultra-luxurious version of the Mondeo?
The intention is that the Vignale edition Mondeo looks and feels like a premium car and, while I’m not a fan of the centre-mounted Vignale logo above the rear bumper, the hexagonal Vignale grille, 19-inch Dark Tarnish alloy wheels and ‘white platinum’ paint (a £250 extra) on our demonstrator do make a striking package.
Inside, the heated steering wheel is wrapped in leather, the 10-way adjustable premium seats finished in charcoal leather and the ambient cabin lighting completes the look. Navigation and audio are controlled via a 10-inch touchscreen display in the centre console and the automatic gearbox is controlled by a rotary dial.
Riding around in the Vignale it’s quiet, very quiet. I’ll get to the 2.0-litre diesel engine and the eight-speed transmission in a moment, but a big factor in the in-car serenity is Ford’s Active Noise Control, a high-tech feature that uses a trio of microphones, strategically placed in the cabin, to detect “undesirable noises” from the engine and transmission.
In much the same way I’ve counteracted the undesirable noise from my children during lockdown by humming along to the radio or by leaving the vacuum on, the system counteracts those noises with opposing sound waves from the audio system. If only I could get one for the house.
The boot is roomy at 550 litres and space for both driver and rear passengers is excellent in terms of head and leg room. The optional panoramic sunroof (£650) makes it feel even bigger.
Our test car is powered by Ford’s 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesel engine in beefed-up 187bhp guise, as opposed to the 147bhp variant in more run-of-the-mill models. While it’s the most powerful diesel engine in the range it’s not particularly rapid from a standing start, with an 8.9 second nought to 62mph time.
The sport mode, engaged by turning the rotary gear selector to ‘S’, livens things up a little and with 295lb ft of torque it does pack some decent punch. As one might expect it feels most at home gobbling up miles in the fast lane of the motorway. Power delivery is smooth and the engine is remarkably quiet for a diesel.
The suspension does a reasonable job of absorbing the worst of the British road network, but compared with other cars in the Vignale range I’ve driven the ride is surprisingly firm, in part due to those big 19-inch alloy wheels.
It does handle well for such a big car though, something the Mondeo has been renowned for through the generations. There’s bags of grip and the steering - while light on feedback - feels sharp and responsive.
With bags of space, some great engines, fun handling for its size and good looks, the current generation of Mondeo shares all the ingredients that made its predecessors a huge success for Ford. Add to that the long list of safety and technology features and the luxury comforts unique to the Vignale edition and it’s probably the best car ever to have carried the Ford Mondeo badge.
£32,890 before options seems eye-wateringly steep for a Ford but it will come in at least a couple of thousand pounds cheaper than a similarly specced Audi A4 (more, depending whether you rate the closest equivalent as the Technik edition or Vorsprung).
So if you’re in the market for a high specification mid-sized family car should you be considering the Mondeo? Definitely. Should you consider the Vignale edition? Sure, you’ll get a great car. You should also look at the next model down the trim tree; the Titanium Edition which is £4,000 less and still very well equipped.
Ford Mondeo Vignale
Price: £32,890.00 (£33,790 as driven); Engine: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, diesel; Power: 187bhp; Torque: 295lb ft; Transmission: Eight-speed automatic; Top speed: 138mph; 0-62mph: 8.9 seconds; Economy: 36.7-56.5mpg; CO2 emissions: 131g/km