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What’s this? A petrol-electric hybrid version of the poshed-up Ford Mondeo Vignale. Haven’t we seen both of those things before? A hybrid Mondeo? Yes, and hopefully you avoided it like the plague, because its CVT-conducted petrol-electric drivetrain is straight out of the bad old days of eco motoring, with whining, droning, mooing choruses every time you breathe on the throttle, fairly unimpressive economy, and base-spec looks that no company car driver would want to be seen dead in. The Mondeo Vignale, meanwhile, is Ford’s attempt to land a punch on the premium brands like BMW and Audi by stopping customers who own top-spec Focuses, Mondeos and whathaveyou from assuming the only way to upgrade is to, well, not buy another Ford.
In short, you get a kitted out, chrome and leather-smothered car, but the dealership gives you special treatment, with courtesy cars, priority servicing, and a ‘personal liaison manager’ you’ll be on first name terms with. He or she will even take your car for a clean if you can’t be bothered to attack it with a hose and sponge. Neither of these things sound hugely wonderful, so what happens when they collide here? Well, the Ford Mondeo Hybrid actually comes of age. It’s no longer terrible. In fact, it’s quite a nice way to travel, and you might – might – just consider it before defaulting to a German brand that invests more money in LED light signatures than making sure the salesman sends you a wedding anniversary card. So what’s changed? I see it’s got a proper bodykit and big 19-inch wheels. Look, the beefier styling helps, as do the more sumptuously upholstered seats, which perform the most invasive massage yet seen in a car. Many cars offer on-board wi-fi and television now, but for sheer on-the-road entertainment it’s hard to beat the panicked giggles of a passenger when you slyly activate their bottom-knead-o-matic. Just thought you ought to know.
So is it fast? Not especially. It’ll do 0-62mph in 9.2 seconds, which is around half a second off the 2.0-litre, 178bhp diesel engine that most Mondeos use. A performance hybrid this very much isn’t. So why’s it better than expected? To fit the Vignale’s brief of being a more refined, premium offering, Ford has thrown a lot of soundproofing at the car, and the result is it’s nowhere near as migraine-inducing on the move. If you try and drive it like a performance auto it’ll still get all highly-strung and whiney, but in ordinary bumbling about, it’s noticeably more refined. In town, the electric mode really stretches the Vignale Hybrid’s manners over the diesel – it just feels so much more appropriate to cruise around in near silence. You’ll only get a couple of miles out of the batteries in practice, and it requires a zen-like calm on the throttle, but it isn’t too bad a way to travel. It’s not really a car for drivers, the Vignale, because the real boons of having one – the VIP dealer service, and hands-off maintenance – aren’t there for sampling. But for someone who’s a Ford nut lamenting the lack of a modern Granada – and with £30,000 burning a hole in his or her pocket – there might just be some method in the madness.