Ford Kuga Vignale review

The luxury Ford Kuga Vignale has extensive standard equipment but it comes at a high price

There is no doubt that the continuing popularity of premium SUVs has prompted Ford to introduce the range-topping Vignale version of the Kuga in the hope that it might tempt buyers away from high-end rivals such as the BMW X1 or the Audi Q3. You certainly can’t complain at the range of equipment fitted to the Vignale, but the additions come at a vastly higher price and the car depreciates heavily too. So is it worth buying a Kuga Vignale?

The standard Ford Kuga isn’t a bad car by any means but despite a recent facelift it’s beginning to look a little dated when compared to newer models offered by rival manufacturers. Even with its ageing looks, the Kuga still looks reasonably handsome and comes with a variety of engines and trim levels, making it a popular choice in the mid-size SUV class.

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In Vignale trim, you get less choice when it comes to the engine and gearbox combinations. There’s a single 1.5-litre Ecoboost available with front or four-wheel drive - both can only be ordered with Ford’s six-speed automatic gearbox, which is not the best fit for this engine. That’s because the gearbox is all too keen to change gears instead of using the engine’s mid-range power, and when you work it hard in this way, it sounds and feels strained. It’s also thirsty, with a best-case economy figure of around 29mpg according to the new WLTP figures.

There is a little more choice with the 2.0-litre diesel engine variants: an automatic with all-wheel drive, and a lesser powered six-speed manual with front-wheel drive. The latter is our pick as it can achieve around 37mpg on average.

In terms of the way it drives, the Kuga Vignale retains the standard model’s excellent road manners with decent grip levels and nicely weighted steering. Overall, it’s still one of the more entertaining mid-size SUVs to drive, only bettered by the SEAT Ateca.

However, it’s the Vignale’s extensive equipment list that is designed to tempt buyers away from other brands, offering a strong level of luxury at a premium price. Sadly, as a complete package it doesn’t make sense, ending up looking very expensive next to the Titanium model, which costs around £5,000 less.

For the extra money you get standard 18-inch alloy wheels, unique Vignale styling, along with unique pleated leather seats with electronic adjustment and heating, a hands-free tailgate, bi-xenon headlights, sat nav, rear parking sensors, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality, and a few other interior niceties. The problem is that all these extras just don’t make the Vignale feel special enough to justify the price hike.

When compared to the lower spec Kuga Titanium, you’d struggle to notice the difference on the inside - aside from the special Vignale seats and leather trim, both trim levels feature a large amount of cheap plastic and a similar level of standard equipment.

In terms of interior space, the Vignale still offers the same accommodation as the rest of the Kuga range (although the rear seats don’t fold completely flat thanks to the heftier seating material) but both front and rear seat passengers should be comfortable enough, even if the car isn’t as roomy as a Peugeot 3008.

Verdict 2/5

While the Ford Kuga is a likeable enough SUV in its more affordable trim levels we find it very hard to recommend the Vignale – it’s just too expensive. The engine/gearbox combination in the petrol model really doesn’t work well, and we think you’d be far better off buying a Titanium model, Peugeot 3008 or SEAT Ateca.

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