Then we had a collective intake of breath when we saw the list price. But is the £36,660 price of our test car as unreasonable as it sounds?
The Vignale badge launched on the latest Mondeo last year and has since been rolled out on the Kuga and S-Max, with Edge Vignale due next year. Designed to showcase the best in premium sophistication and ‘sportiness’, the Vignale sits at the top of the Mondeo range.
The recipe seems a simple one. Take a regular Mondeo, coat every conceivable interior surface with leather, load it full of the latest technology and add a couple of exterior embellishments.
This is the third mk5 version of Ford’s mid-sized rep mobile that I’ve driven since it launched and it is undoubtedly the best yet. The sports suspension (a £150 must-buy option) recaptures some of the old model’s cornering sharpness. Aided by the all-wheel drive system, this Mondeo is surefooted and far more fun to drive than others in the line-up.
Wind and road noise are non-existent and all the cowhide in the cabin transforms it from mid-range fleet fodder to a premium contender.
It’s not perfect though. Despite all the effort put into soundproofing, the noise from the 178bhp diesel engine bleeds into the cabin when it’s working hard and undermines the refinement experienced at cruising speed.
The engine pulls well though and, driven normally, the twin-turbo unit delivers its power smoothly. Left in auto, the dual-clutch gearbox can be slow to respond when down-changing however, and the system lags behind those in competitors.
Speaking of competitors, Vignale pricing puts this Mondeo bang into BMW 3 series and Quattro Audi A4 territory.
The standard car is £33,610 but luxury must-haves like adaptive cruise control, the power tailgate and heated steering wheel are all optional extras, meaning our test car comes in almost exactly the same an Audi A4 Avant Quattro S Line S Tronic.
The Vignale does a commendable job at bringing the Mondeo upmarket and it’s undeniably a premium proposition. It’s still a Mondeo however, and whether buyers will be willing to part with premium car money for a car without a premium badge remains to be seen.
The car in facts
Price: £33,660 (£36,660 as driven)
Engine: 2.0-litre turbodiesel producing 178bhp, 295lb/ft
Transmission: Six-speed automatic driving all four wheels
Performance: Top speed 137mph, 0-62mph in 9.5 seconds
Economy: 52.3mpg combined
Emissions: 141g/km of CO2