Long-term report: Since when did a Ford Focus become so posh?

Not so long ago, just having electric rear windows or dual-zone climate control would make your hatchback feel top of the range.

That’s clearly why Ford felt the need to produce this upmarket Focus Vignale in the first place – Vignale having been launched a few years ago as Ford’s exclusive sub-brand.

That’s clearly why Ford felt the need to produce this upmarket Focus Vignale in the first place – Vignale having been launched a few years ago as Ford’s exclusive sub-brand.

At first it was only Ford’s largest models available in this trim – the Mondeo, Galaxy, Edge SUV, etc – but in recent years, Vignale has worked its way down to cheaper models such as the Fiesta and the Focus, which is the long-termer on test here.

When the regular custodian of the car, a colleague of mine, kindly handed me the keys, I was about to have my first Vignale experience – and a rather hectic weekend of travelling around the UK beckoned.

I’ll admit I spent much of the time slowly exploring the many features fitted to the car, and I still don’t think I’ve discovered them all.

There’s kit on this Focus that wouldn’t look out of place on the most expensive of Range Rovers.

Take, for example, the head-up display, which discreetly pops out from the dash just above the steering wheel. I didn’t even realise it was there until I started messing with a few buttons at a set of traffic lights. Then there’s the full ‘Vignale’ leather trim with contrast stitching.

Sure, leather is hardly anything new, but this leather certainly feels a notch above the ‘faux’ stuff you seem to find in many cars – even some of the premium German marques.

As I kept exploring, I uncovered adaptive cruise control, the full B&O premium sound system, heated steering wheel, heated front seats… The list of features could go on and on.

There’s so much technology and luxury on the Vignale that it’s hard to get your head around it all. That’s all part of the fun, I guess, and a long way from the sparse ‘CL’ and ‘LX’ grades that were to be found on the original Focus.

All in all, then, I was thoroughly impressed – up until the point I discovered the spec sheet in the glove box. There was a bit of a fright in store for me as I found out the price.

All this luxury is lovely, but perhaps not so much at £31,900, which is what our car costs. That could buy you a very high-spec Mercedes A-Class, even a C-Class and also a Hyundai i30 N hot hatch with several thousand pounds to spare. Or perhaps more pertinently, it’s only £95 cheaper than Ford’s new ST hot hatch (our car has a 148bhp 1.5-litre diesel engine, to put things into perspective).

New alloy protectors help to keep the gleaming wheels protected
(PA)

But moving on, what else has been happening in EF19 YPC’s life recently? If you look closely at the pictures, you might notice the 18-inch alloy wheels have some new red decoration – or alloy wheel protectors.

While clashing rather with the Ruby Red paint job (exclusive to the Vignale), they’re there for a good reason – to help prevent kerbing damage.

I should point out that it’s not because we have no faith in the other members of our team who might be driving the car, but rather for a video feature we’ve been filming on how to avoid parking dings and damage. Elsewhere, the Focus has been on home improvement duties, with a colleague drafting it in to help take some old carpet to the tip. It’s also assisted in helping him choose some new floor coverings – hence why the bulky carpet books are pictured in the Focus’s boot above.

The Focus' spacious boot has helped on numerous occasions
(PA)

So after plenty of miles in the Focus Vignale, I came away admiring all its tech and luxury, as well as having enjoyed the excellent driving experience. However, you can’t help but think the price is just a bit too ambitious.

  • Model: Ford Focus Vignale 5-door
  • Price (as tested): £31,900
  • Engine: 1.5-litre EcoBlue diesel engine, eight-speed auto
  • Power: 148bhp
  • Torque: 370Nm
  • Max speed: 129mph
  • 0-60mph: 9.1 seconds
  • MPG (combined): 51.4mph
  • Emissions (CO2): 121g/km
  • Mileage: 3,217
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