The secret diary of a motoring journalist aged 39¾'ish


8th July 2019

First thing to notice on this Ford Focus Vignale is the colour, which is a unique option for this upmarket version of the small hatch. It’s called Dark Mulberry and is a £550 extra, and it’s caused quite a split in opinion already among those who’ve clocked it. I rather like its understated hue, but Mrs S reckons it looks ‘dirty brown’, while a neighbour praised the ‘aubergine’ colour. Who says all modern cars are just bland?
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First decent trip in the Vignale and a chance to try out the plush leather seats. They definitely offer lots of squish to feel more upmarket and opulent than a standard Focus’, so that’s a big tick, and they also give good support on an unexpectedly lengthy journey back from Glasgow due to traffic conditions. They’re also heated, as is the steering wheel, which was handy given the temperature is very unseasonal.
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Up to Perth this morning and I’m in a particular rush, so it’s the back roads route to try out the Vignale on some more testing tarmac. There’s no shortage of grip or balance, as you’d expect of a Focus, but the 18-inch alloy wheels and thin-shouldered tyres don’t half pick up on a lot of minor ridges and ripples. It gives a mildly unsettled edge to the Vignale’s ride that doesn’t sit very well with its luxury image.
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I’m a big fan of the turbocharged 1.5-litre Ecoboost engine and it works very well in this upmarket Focus thanks to its refinement and muscular punch in 182hp form. Less impressive is the eight-speed automatic ’box that flits between gears when cruising around the 60mph mark. On the one hand, it happily stays in top for a while and registers well below 2000rpm to give strong economy, but then it will dip into a low gear for no apparent reason for short bursts.
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If there’s on area that shows the Vignale is a Focus in a posh frock, it’s the boot. It’s exactly the same in size, which is fine, if a bit small compared to rivals’, but so is the trim and finish. It’s not a disappointment so much as an area where Ford could have made that final small push to set this model apart from its more mainstream siblings. As one passenger commented: ‘What, no umbrellas in the boot? And I thought this was the Bentley-fied version.’ Quite.
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Back in the main cabin today and it’s off to the Doune Hillclimb, where I’m competing. Having a support car in the shape of the Vignale is ideal as it provides somewhere to keep my stuff dry and to shelter from the rain that has made itself known today. Still, it’s a chance to admire the wood trim that reminds me of my Dad’s old Mk1 Granada Ghia, and I mean that in a very good way.
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Back to the Doune Hillclimb again today as yesterday was all about practice runs and now it’s time for the competition ascents. Thankfully, the weather is holding dry, so the Vignale just has to look smart rather than act as a weather shelter. At the end of the event, I scored an unexpected class win and registered a personal best time up the hill of 58.73-seconds in my Ford-powered Sylva Leader, so a great end to the weekend.
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