New Ford S-MAX Vignale model goes upmarket

We visit Ford's Cologne design studio to take a look at the Ford S-MAX Vignale - the brand's efforts to take the MPV to new heights

The Ford S-MAX Vignale has been revealed at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show. The seven-seat MPV was unveiled officially alongside the Edge Vignale and Kuga Vignale Concept at the brand’s press conference.

If the Edge is looking beyond regular Ford buyers, the S-MAX Vignale surely has the potential to hoover up demand from existing owners. More than three-quarters of S-MAX buyers in the UK go for Titanium trim or above, and some of them, you’d assume, would like even more luxury. Certainly, the latest model’s shape – the natural evolution of the rakish wedge that redefined the MPV a decade ago – seems comfortable, with 19-inch Vignale alloys and flashes of chrome on its sides.

Ford Kuga Vignale Concept: we preview posh SUV

“We could actually have made S-MAX Vignale with the old generation,” says Chris Bird, global colour and materials design director, “but we’re glad we waited. The lines of the new one seem to suit the luxurious look a little bit better.” Claudio Messale, Vignale styling director, agrees, adding: “I wouldn’t necessarily say S-MAX was the easiest Vignale to resolve, but it did seem to happen quite naturally. We worked alongside the team designing the regular car, and it all came together well.”

The S-MAX’s cabin feels just as plush as the Edge’s. Indeed, the dashboard treatment – complete with turned aluminium insert – is exactly the same. “It shows what we can do when we have a common architecture between Edge and this car,” says design director Piaskowski. Still, it does feel a little odd to have that double stitching and premium finish in a car that’s often used for brutal school runs. Even the pop-up third row of seats gets the same supple leather. The MPV will also feature the brand’s SYNC 3 infotainment system.

Best family cars

Sonja Vandenberk, chief designer for colour and materials, acknowledges the paradox, but doesn’t see it as a problem. “It was an interesting challenge,” she says, “as Vignale has to be luxurious but S-MAX also stands for practicality and usability. Those elements don’t always sit easily together. But leather’s a robust material, and our Vignale spec is a better grade of hide with less treatment. We’ve also taken some decisions to help with this – so on cars with the light-coloured leather, the seatbacks are still black, meaning foot scuffs shouldn’t show up so badly.”

The Nero S-MAX is particularly appealing, perhaps because it sits so easily with that original definition of the S-MAX driver: someone who had to buy a family MPV but doesn’t want the world to know he did. It doesn’t seem to miss the chrome side strips too badly, and the darker grille and alloy wheels look sharp on the latest MPV’s shape.

Ford decided, incidentally, to launch an S-MAX Vignale instead of a Galaxy version. “We thought there was a more natural fit with the luxury brand,” says Bird. “The S-MAX already transcends any brand snobbery, so it’s an ideal vehicle for the more luxurious Vignale badge.”

Woudl you buy an S-MAX Vignale? Let us know below!


Ford S-MAX review
Ford S-MAX Titanium front
Ford S-MAX

Ford S-MAX review

The Ford S-MAX is a mature and grown-up family car that's comfortable and practical
25 Mar 2020

Most Popular

New Suzuki Swace estate launched on UK market

New Suzuki Swace estate launched on UK market

Based on the Toyota Corolla Touring Sports, the Suzuki Swace estate comes to the UK
11 Nov 2020
All-new Renault Kangoo van unveiled ahead of 2021 launch
Renault Kangoo ZE Concept - show pic
Renault Kangoo

All-new Renault Kangoo van unveiled ahead of 2021 launch

First images of the third-generation Renault Kangoo panel van - which will soon square-up to the new Volkswagen Caddy
12 Nov 2020
New Citroen C3 2020 review
Citroen C3

New Citroen C3 2020 review

The Citroen C3 supermini has been updated for 2020, but have the updates boosted its appeal?
12 Nov 2020