It all started out so beautifully. While the idea of running a plug-in hybrid Kuga didn’t immediately thrill me, once I took delivery and I saw the number of miles that I was able to complete running solely on electricity, it won me over. I got into a routine and plugged the car into the mains each time I returned home, and then it was ready with approximately 30 miles of zero emissions miles available for next time. I thought I would be too lazy to do it, but I surprised myself.
And then came the reports that a small number of Kuga PHEVs were self-combusting overseas and the instructions from Ford was not to charge up the battery, while they pinned down a fix. Knowing that this kind of thing takes months rather than days or weeks, Ford gave me the option to swap into something else – a car that I could use to its full capacity. So here you have it, a diesel-powered Kuga with 188bhp on tap, all-wheel-drive, and in top-flight Vignale specification. Ironically it’s close to the specification that I chose when Ford asked me to ‘build’ my ideal Kuga, albeit in a different colour, and before someone in the press team decided that they would challenge me to run the plug-in hybrid Kuga instead.
When I made the decision to swap to diesel, there wasn’t a fix in sight for the Kuga PHEV, but thankfully there is now, and it isn’t a cheap solution for Ford. It involves swapping the battery pack for a fresh one and takes around a day for the job to be complete. Part of me wishes I had stuck with it, to experience the changeover, however, it’s likely that it would have taken until February before it happened, and that would only have left just a few months until the car was due to be replaced.
I’ve taken delivery of my all-wheel-drive Kuga just at the right time, as it’s only going to be a matter of time before snow descends down the country towards Essex. Colleagues up north have already had a covering, and I’ll be well placed to tackle it head on… if we were allowed out. Alright we are officially able to venture outdoors for essential shopping, for exercise, or to travel to work, but having fun in the snow probably isn’t. In any case, I think I would rather keep the Kuga in perfect condition on the driveway, and I already like that its Magnetic paintwork does a fine job of masking road dirt.
So where does the virtually unpronounceable nomenclature come from? It’s the name of an Italian coachbuilder, and if you break it down to “Vin-yar-lee”, it’s easier to say. Established in Turin in 1948, it was last owned by De Tomaso, before being sold to Ford In 1972, alongside another famous coachbuilding name, Ghia. You’ll remember that Ghia was used as a nameplate for top-of-the-range Ford models from the 1970s right up until 2010, when it was replaced by the rather austere Titanium nomenclature. But realising that the company needed something that was even more upmarket than Titanium, Ford resurrected the Vignale name and applied it to the Mondeo. Since then, the use of the Vignale name has been expanded until it is featured on virtually the entire Ford passenger car range, except for the Galaxy – although in Europe there is such a thing. Oh, and it is missing from the EcoSport, Mustang and Ranger, and the van-based Tourneo Connect.
The Vignale touches are a more ornate front grille with flying Vs, and a different front bumper, together with nickel-coloured alloy wheels. Inside, the dashboard is wrapped in leather, there’s Vignale leather upholstery, together with branded scuff plates and carpet mats. It’s all rather nice and feels suitably upmarket.
Date arrived 1st December 2020
Economy (WLTP combined) 47.9-49.6
Economy (On test) 43.3mpg
It looks very classy finished in Magnetic metallic paint.
The Vignale name isn’t easy to say at first introduction.