Ever gone car shopping and discounted Ford because it isn't "premium" enough? Well with Ford's Vignale service, that may all be about to change.
Citing a unique interpretation of modern luxury and design inspired by architecture and fashion, the Vignale service aims to drag the Ford range up from mainstream to prestige with an inside-and-out coachbuilt-style approach.
With the scheme 18 months from customer rollout in 2015, Ford has presented Vignale specification Mondeo saloon and tourer models to showcase its plans.
These Mondeos, in exclusive Nocciola dark brown paint (though Ford goes the whole hog and refers to it as coachwork), feature 20 Vignale alloy wheels, a unique front bumper design, chrome door handles and mirror caps and prominent Vignale badging.
On the inside, the seats are exclusive to the Vignale range with quilted trim and branded detailing. There's exclusive luggage, soft-touch leather armrests, steering wheel, instrument panel, centre console and door cards (with quilted inlays), Vignale-embossed scuff plates and luxury floor-mats - intended to blend a traditional style with modern materials.
Of course a modern prestige car wouldn't be complete without technology, so there's a centre console sporting Ford SYNC with MyFord Touch to integrate your smartphone and provide wi-fi capability, and on the outside there's a set of adaptive LED headlamps.
Vignale's not just about the car though - it's a service. This means that Vignale customers will have their own separate area in Ford dealerships and Ford also touts exclusive VIP services that ape those seen in the world of air travel - from chauffeuring and dedicated check-in to exclusive banking and credit card services.
With another year and a half until the Mondeo Vignale hits the roads, we can look forward to other Ford range vehicles getting the Vignale treatment, like the S-Max and Focus replacement.
Twenty-five years ago, mainstream Japanese manufacturers recognised that the cachet of their brand wasn't sufficient to sell very expensive cars and thus Lexus, Infiniti, Acura and Eunos were born from Toyota, Nissan, Honda and Mazda respectively.
Ford's approach is different and those of us old enough to remember the early 1980s will have seen it before. Then it was Carrozzeria Ghia, a famed Italian coachbuilder that was acquired by Ford in the 1970s and used to denote top-spec cars, becoming little more than a trim level since. Carrozzeria Alfredo Vignale was a famed Italian coachbuilder until it was acquired by Ford in the 1970s...
Still, the day may be about to come when someone, somewhere pays 40,000 to own a Mondeo...