The new Ford Kuga Vignale is a more bespoke SUV
Ford want a slice of the luxury car market and their answer is Vignale. The aim of Vignale models is to take refinement and comfort up a level, which is why Ford is marketing Vignale as more of a luxury sub-brand than a new trim level.
The Vignale range was introduced on the Mondeo and now has found its way to the S-Max and Kuga line-up. The new Kuga range starts at €33,345 but the Vignale models carry a premium due to their more bespoke finish.
SUV’s rarely go off road so manufacturers have started to concentrate on the appeal of an SUV from it’s versatility standpoint rather than its outright off-road ability.
That has been reflected in how SUVs are changing and the Ford Kuga also follows this trend becoming more versatile while further simplifying its off-road usefulness. The All Wheel Drive version of the Kuga features “intelligent” 4-wheel drive which quite simply activates automatically when slippy conditions are sensed, requiring no input from the driver.
So has it street cred?
Stylish, trendy and contemporary looking best describes the new Kuga.
It really looks very well indeed and is more distinctive than many of its rivals.
Ford like to call this styling theme “Kinetic” design and it works.
The Vignale has some extra details such as Vignale body styling kit, 18 inch alloys, and some lovely unique colours.
So what’s it like inside?
The cabin is equally impressive with clear logically laid out instruments, clever use of aluminium style trim on the centre console and other areas, and high quality materials evident throughout.
The touchscreen is a bit fiddly to use as it is recessed in the centre of he dash making easy access to the lower part of the screen a problem. The Vignale boasts contrasting stitching in the leather upholstery on the dash, doors and seats which does contribute to that more luxury car feel.
The high driving position gives an excellent view of the road ahead while the level of standard equipment is very good.
As well as the usual electrics we have come to expect the new Kuga features ESP (Electronic Stability Programme) ARM (Anti Rollover Mitigation) ABS with EBD, multiple airbags, keyless start via the Ford “power” button, a very good CD with MP3 /Aux input for your iPod, multifunction steering wheel as well as 10 way power adjustable drivers seat, SYNC3 with a Sony 9 speaker stereo, Vignale leather steering wheel, Vignale front scuff plates and Bi-Zenon headlights with jet wash.
What is under the bonnet?
Power comes from a 2.0 litre turbo diesel which is mated to a slick 6-speed manual gearbox.
Power output is a healthy 150PS launching the new Kuga from a standstill to 100km/h in about 10 seconds.
Mid range acceleration is excellent with loads of torque available from this rather good diesel unit.
It is economical too burning just 7.4 litres of diesel per 100km.
Will I enjoy driving it?
The new Kuga is nicely set up with a decent level of ride comfort and solid safe handling.
There is a little bodyroll in tighter corners but not unduly so.
Noise levels are commendably low and the car generally feels pretty refined.
The AWD system kicks in virtually unnoticed when for example pulling away on a gravel surface.
I did not get to go off-road but my guess is that it is capable of light use in the mucky stuff.
So what’s the verdict?
Ford have kept it simple here, 2WD or 4WD with a 2.0 TDCI diesel engine.
Overall then the new Kuga is a competent, stylish crossover SUV. I like the detail touches, the Kuga impresses in all areas!
The Vignale does offer a more bespoke feel but I am not sure it would be enough to make me pay the premium over the Trend or Titanium models.
The new Kuga Vignale costs €42,325.