Long-term report: Living the premium life with the Ford Focus Vignale
The Vignale is the high-end specification Focus from Ford. But does it deliver a premium experience? Dave Brown finds out
There can’t be a car owner in the UK who hasn’t thought about buying a Ford Focus at some time during their driving career.
And millions of people have, of course, over the 20-odd years that it has been on sale here. It simply ticks so many boxes for so many people – singletons, pensioners and families too – and always occupies a spot in the regularly-issued lists of the UK’s best-selling new motors.
After all, what’s not to like? Great design, reasonable running costs, reliability and plenty of space for the kids and their clobber – the Focus’s appeal has always been pretty broad.
Another key draw is the famous Blue Oval badge on the bonnet – people are familiar with Ford. They know and trust the brand and it rarely, if ever, puts a foot wrong.
Which brings us to EF19 YPC, a new addition to our fleet of long-term loan cars.
A hatchback Focus in luxurious, high-end Vignale trim (estates are also available), it really is quite a sight to behold. It properly looks the business and the Ruby Red colour (a Vignale optional extra at a cost of £550) certainly enhances the car’s sleek lines.
So what’s under the bonnet? Well, our new arrival comes equipped with a 1.5-litre EcoBlue diesel engine, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.
With a top speed of 129mph, it can get from 0-60mph in 9.1 seconds and deliver up to 51.4mpg under the new WLTP testing regime.
The eight-speed gearbox is uber-responsive and the in-cabin rotary selector is a breeze to get the hang of, incidentally. If you want to take a bit more control of your driving experience, nifty paddles almost concealed by the steering wheel enable you to do this. I’d recommend it.
I’ve already mentioned the car looks good from the outside – and it makes a seriously good impression once you’re behind the wheel too.
Ford boasts that superior styling and craftsmanship are evident in every detail of the interior – and it’s difficult to disagree. What I like in particular is that although the dominant colour of the leather upholstery and dashboard is black (or perhaps charcoal grey), the illuminated elements of the dash and central console are spot-on and very easy on the eye. An almost cyan-shaded light blue and red are used and it all looks really attractive.
It’s quite a calming environment, in fact, helped no doubt by the Focus Vignale having special acoustic glass to help reduce external noise.
Not only does that mean the racket from the road from outside is minimised, but the sound from the wonderful Bang & Olufsen sound system is enhanced. Beethoven’s Fifth never sounded so good.
So what else do you get for your money?
Quite a lot, as it turns out. Key features of the car (too many to mention in this initial report) include 18-inch ‘Liquid Aluminium’ alloy wheels, LED headlights and a unique Vignale front grille and bodystyling.
There are heated front seats, front and rear parking sensors and a very clear and nicely designed reversing camera. Cruise control, a quick-clear heated windscreen and hill-start assist all combine to make the driving experience a pleasurable and stress-free one.
What distinguishes our car from a standard Focus Vignale is the aforementioned Ruby Red paint job, openable panoramic roof (not yet used it but watch this space at £995) and Active Park Assist (£200). A driver assistance pack including traffic sign recognition and adaptive cruise control comes in at £500.
I do have one big concern about our new fleet member, though – and that’s simply that I’m not sure I’ll be able to hang onto the keys once my colleagues realise how good it is.
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