Since the original of the species was launched back in 2007 the S-Max has beenselling very well all over Europe, testimony if any were needed as to the popularity of this new niche created by Ford.
The S-Max attempts to bridge the gap between being a family car Dad is happy to
drive (and so not an MPV) and being an MPV. So Ford call it a Sport Activity Vehicle (SAV).
Ford want a slice of the luxury car market and their answer is Vignale. The aim of Vignale models is to take refinement and comfort up a level, which is why Ford is marketing Vignale as more of a luxury sub-brand than a new trim level.
Ford claim each model is hand finished by dedicated craftsmen.
So hand stitched leather, some unique colour options, extra equipment and mood lighting are the order of the day.
The Mondeo has been given the Vignale treatment and this week I am testing the S-Max Vignale.
The S-Max Vignale really does look distinctive. With its sleek lines it manages to look more like a sporting estate than a 7 seat family wagon. The Pearlescent white paint combined with lovely alloy wheels and judicious chrome detailing do make it stand out from the top spec “standard” S-Max.
The cabin of the S-Max Vignale is excellent and quite contemporary with sweeping lines and a definitely sporty overtone.
The laser cut leather upholstery with its contrasting white stitching does look very upmarket indeed. The interior does feel a cut above even the top line S-Max.
I like the broad centre console with large easy to use touch screen which operates everything from Navigation, to climate, Audio and Phone systems. The Panoramic glass roof is lovely.
The elevated driving position is great and the level of standard equipment is very good.
Nice touches include plenty of oddments space, cup holders, good LED style interior lighting, changeable colour ambient lighting and electrically operated fold down of the rear seats. I am not going to list everything here but in addition to all the now expected safety features such as ABS, ISOFIX, multiple airbags and so on it even has side airbags for the last row of seats.
The S-Max Vignale boasts interesting technologies which merit mention such as the standard Lane keeping aid and Traffic Sign Recognition, cruise control with intelligent speed limiter, and adaptive LED headlights, not to mention the hands free operated tailgate.
This S-Max Vignale is powered by Ford’s 2.0 TDCI produces 180 PS and is mated in this case to the 6-speed manual gearbox. The engine is quiet and refined with plenty of mid range power for safe overtaking.
Furthermore it returns pretty good fuel consumption results too, burning 6.2 litres per 100km over my road test.
You don't buy a family 7-seater for the sheer driving pleasure you hope it may deliver.
The S-Max Vignale however proves comfortable and surefooted whether on wet or dry roads. It drives in a more car-like fashion with minimal body roll in corners.
The ride and handling combination is just about perfect and firm enough to be rewarding to drive.
The steering is nicely weighted, and the powerful brakes provide reassuring stopping.
Accomodation is very good with ample head and legroom for adults both front and rear.
The large rear hatch allows access to the good sized luggage area and the 3rd row of seats are perfect for kids (but only kids and small ones at that!)
The Vignale idea does work to a large extent. The Vignale S-Max does feel a cut
above its stablemates and delivers a more luxurious and bespoke feel too while
delivering all the practicality and style of the ‘standard” version.
However all this has a price which starts at €49,385. The model tested with options costs €54,225.