Ford’s S-Max goes completely over the top

Ford’s Vignale range offers premium-style products, but at a premium price, says Declan Colley.

We all know the Ford S-Max to be a smashing car — an MPV like few others.

It has all the expected practicality of the genre with the added gloss of being an example of the breed which is actually fun to drive.

Now I know Ford like to call the car a Sports Activity Vehicle, rather than an MPV (because they also make the Galaxy, which they do call an MPV), but we’re getting into semantics here. As a seven seater, it is pretty much a conventional MPV.

I mean you can call a cow “a high end dairy production vehicle” but essentially it remains a cow, if you see what I’m getting at.

Anyway, Ford has decided to upgrade the S-Max beyond its normal realm of model variants and we now — as we also do with the Mondeo and the Edge — have a Vignale version of the car which is aimed at putting it close to the premium end of the market usually occupied by the Germans.

Vignale, by the way, is — or was — and Italian styling carrozzeria outfit which was bought by Ford ages ago (in the same way they bought Ghia) and seemingly forgotten about until recently when someone dusted the name off and thought about what the company might do with it.

As the public’s buying tastes have now swerved firmly towards premium products, the blue oval decided to use the Vignale name to market a bunch of products that would not otherwise be considered premium creations. Thus it waved its’ magic wand and — presto — an upmarket S-Max.

The upshot is that a car costing in the region of €35,000 now costs more in the region of €50,000 and, to be perfectly honest with you, I am a tad sceptical (tongue firmly in cheek here) that too many families are going to bite that particular bullet — leather upholstery and concierge service notwithstanding.

Sure the Vignale version of the S-Max is a treat to drive (as is the regular car) and certainly the upgrades give the thing a greatly added sheen — they would want to at the price — but, other than funeral directors, chauffeur services or five star hotels, I am at a loss to see where the market for the car is going to be.

It has a great engine (two litre turbodiesel; 178 bhp; 0-100 kph in 9.7 seconds; top speed 214 kph; 5.0 l/100 km — 56+ mpg — and 129 g/km), the silkiest six speed manual ’box I’ve come across in a long while and a spec list as long as your leg, but I still don’t see where the cash-slinging punters are going to come from.

Ford’s S Max Vignale is a truly lovely car but it is hard to justify the extra €15,000 asking price.
Ford’s S Max Vignale is a truly lovely car but it is hard to justify the extra €15,000 asking price.

I was certainly impressed by the S-Max Vignale and both the manner it conducted itself on the road and the cossetting it gave driver and passengers. But would I recommend that anyone splash out on one? Er, no.

Lovely and dandy as it is, I suspect the Vignale S-Max is going to end up as something of a footnote in a bar conversation in many years time.

“Hey Pat, you’ll never guess what I picked up on E-Bay last night.”

“Haven’t a clue, Seanie.”

“Well Pat, let me tell you I got a Ford S-Max Vignale for €200 and back in the day they were selling those yokes for fifty grand.”

“Go ‘way outta that.”

“I know. That thing is a very rare nailed on classic I tell you.”

“Imagine that. Another pint there Brittany, please.”

At a glance

  • The cost: from €49,385 — €54,225 as tested.
  • The Engine: a fine two-litre diesel. Swift and economic too.
  • The specification: stratospheric.
  • The Overall Verdict: A mystery.

Ford’s S-Max goes completely over the top

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