Ford Focus Vignale review
The Ford Focus Vignale is a family car that’s been given a luxurious makeover. However, it isn’t great value for money and some alternative are more desirable
What's not so good
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The Ford Focus Vignale was first introduced in 2018 as the most expensive version of the Focus. The Focus Vignale is in the same price range as premium alternatives such as the Mercedes A-Class, Audi A3 Sportback and BMW 1 Series.
Thanks to large alloy wheels and its unique chrome grille you’ll easily mark out the Focus Vignale from the rest of the Ford Focus range, but the biggest updates over a regular model are inside.
Sitting behind the wheel, you notice just about everything is covered in leather, from the door cards to the top of the dashboard. However, the leather on the dashboard is closer in feel to soft plastic so the visual effect is there but it’s a bit disappointing when you touch it.
The build quality is a tad inconsistent too, especially around the centre console, but on the upside you get some tasteful trim inserts and some of the dials have a metal finish for a more upmarket feel.
The Ford Focus Vignale also gets unique leather seats that can be heated and cooled. The seats are supportive and there’s a broad range of adjustment to both driver’s seat and steering wheel so getting a good driving position is just a matter of pulling some levers and twisting some nobs. Tall adults will have no issues with the amount of space in the front too.
The back seats of the Focus Vignale are upholstered in the same soft leather as the front pair and can carry two adults in comfort. Be aware that the optional panoramic sunroof does eat into headroom in the back, although you won’t notice that if you’re under six feet tall.
There is a third seat in the middle but it’s narrower and slightly raised meaning it won’t be particularly comfortable for an adult on a longer journey. Still, you’ll be able to carry three kids in the back of the Focus Vignale without much fuss.
Opening the electric boot door reveals a load area that’s nicely square with a few handy hooks and tether points – but nothing to stand out amongst alternative family cars. You’ll easily fit a family’s luggage for a week away, while folding the rear seats down (which can be done in a 60:40 split) to increase capacity is easy enough. However, the Focus isn’t the most practical family car – VW Golf has better flexibility thanks to an adjustable boot floor, and a Skoda Octavia trumps both for outright space.
The Ford Focus Vignale doesn't yet have the desirability required to justify its steep price
Choosing a good engine for your Focus Vignale is easy because all are efficient and offer decent performance for their size. Two petrols and two diesels make up the range.
The four-cylinder 182bhp 1.5-litre petrol is the pick of the range – it’s quick enough for any situation, doesn’t use a lot of fuel and, if you’re into that sort of thing, has a pleasing exhaust note when pushed hard. Ford’s smaller three-cylinder 125bhp 1.0-litre makes sense if you’re regularly in town, but needs to be worked hard at higher speeds.
The 120hp 1.5-litre diesel is the pick if you spent most of your time on the motorway, or regularly carry a full car of passengers. You’ll manage the best fuel economy in the diesel too – we saw 65mpg on a long motorway stint. The 2.0-litre 150bhp diesel is more powerful again, but also more expensive. Most people will find the 1.5 adequate.
Every engine comes with the option of either a slick six-speed manual gearbox or an eight-speed automatic. Compared with automatic gearboxes in alternatives the Focus’ can feel hesitant, holding onto gears for too long and the manual mode isn’t particularly responsive.
The standard manual gearbox, on the other hand, is a joy to use. It’s slick shift and the Focus’ light clutch make the six-speed unit one of the best you can buy.
Driving the Ford Focus Vignale is a more enjoyable experience than many premium alternatives. You get precise steering that gives you confidence when placing the car on the road. The Focus Vignale rides a tad firmly over bumps but it’s never uncomfortable, while the way it controls its body through tight turns is very impressive.
On the motorway wind noise is almost nonexistent at 70mph, although the Vignale’s large 18-inch wheels do generate some road noise. Add the optional driving assists and you’re able to centre your Focus Vignale in its lane at a pre-set speed at a preselected distance from the car in front. All you do is hold the wheel, and if you buy an automatic model the gears are taken care of too.
The Ford Focus Vignale is a very safe car, verified by EuroNCAP which awarded it its maximum five-star safety rating.
All Focus Vignales come with automatic emergency braking, but the car EuroNCAP tested had Ford’s optional Driver Assistance pack which adds lane-keep assist and radar-guided adaptive cruise control that can also read speed signs and re-adjust automatically.
However, we found the adaptive cruise control was occasionally temperamental. It sometimes changes the pre-set speed when it isn’t needed and it can fool itself into thinking that a car in the lane next to you is actually in front.
All told, the Ford Focus Vignale is a spacious, practical family car that will put a smile on the face of keen drivers. However, you’ll have to be happy with a Ford badge on the bonnet, while inside it still doesn’t offer the same level of build quality or luxury that its similarly-priced German alternatives do.