Skip advert
Advertisement

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.

Advertisement - Article continues below

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.

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

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!

Skip advert
Advertisement
Editor-at-large

John started journalism reporting on motorsport – specifically rallying, which he had followed avidly since he was a boy. After a stint as editor of weekly motorsport bible Autosport, he moved across to testing road cars. He’s now been reviewing cars and writing news stories about them for almost 20 years.

Skip advert
Advertisement

Recommended

Top 10 best people carriers and MPVs to buy 2024
Best people carriers and MPVs - header image
Best cars & vans

Top 10 best people carriers and MPVs to buy 2024

These top MPVs are loaded with family-friendly features and lots of space
18 Jan 2024
Best used MPVs and people carriers 2024
Best used MPVs - header image
Best cars & vans

Best used MPVs and people carriers 2024

If you’ve got a growing family to ferry around, the best used MPVs and people carriers will do just that for a bargain price
15 Jan 2024
Best tow cars to buy 2024
Best tow cars to buy 2023 - header
Best cars & vans

Best tow cars to buy 2024

There’s more to towing a car than just hitching up a caravan. Check out these tow car stars to pick what’s right for you
3 Jan 2024

Most Popular

New Kia EV3 is a £30k electric car with a 372-mile range
Kia EV3 - front
News

New Kia EV3 is a £30k electric car with a 372-mile range

Kia expands its electric line up with the EV3 – taking plenty of inspiration from the flagship EV9
23 May 2024
New 2024 Nissan Qashqai prices and specs announced as family SUV war heats up
Nissan Qashqai reveal - full front
News

New 2024 Nissan Qashqai prices and specs announced as family SUV war heats up

The start price for the Nissan Qashqai has increased by £3,000 due to the loss of the old entry-level Visia trim
24 May 2024
Citroen C3 review
Citroen e-C3 - front
In-depth reviews

Citroen C3 review

A clever rethink of the small, affordable car theme, the C3 and its all-electric e-C3 twin have the potential to really shake up the market
22 May 2024