Just how far can you push the limits of brand equity in the large SUV segment? Ford is testing that with this model, the Edge Vignale, a top-spec version of its surprisingly appealing family 4x4. It comes with just about every extra imaginable, plus a bespoke stitched leather interior and an impressive after-sales package.
'Ford gives you more' used to be the Blue Oval brand's marketing slogan - and perhaps it still does. For proof, have a look at the very top Vignale version of its large, sophisticated and very well equipped SUV, the Edge.
Forget the truck-like underpinnings you might expect from a large SUV that sells primarily in the US. This car instead shares its CD4 platform - and much of its interior - with the well-regarded Mondeo, as well as Ford's S-MAX and Galaxy MPVs. That People Carrying provenance is one reason why the Edge is so spacious inside, though curiously, for the European market, Ford hasn't used that extra room to build in the third seating row that many family SUV buyers now seem to want. This model is sized similarly to a Volkswagen Touareg but priced way below the level of a model like that, despite the huge equipment list you get in this Vignale version.
Driving Experience: (200 words)
On the move, the two turbodiesel engines on offer here do a decent job of propelling the car along and are very much on par with rivals for pace. Both are 2.0-litre TDCi units and only come mated to Ford's Intelligent All-Wheel Drive system, 2WD being an option the company doesn't think is really relevant on an SUV of this size. Buyers choose between two mechanical set-ups; a 180PS single turbo variant you have to have with a 6-speed manual gearbox; or the package we'd recommend, a 210PS twin turbo derivative only offered with 6-speed PowerShift automatic transmission. Handling through the bends isn't as sharp as it would be in a smaller SUV, but the Edge compensates for that with supple suspension and impressive refinement that's aided by a clever 'Active noise control' system that tunes out unwanted noise using sound waves played through the car's stereo speakers.
Off the beaten track, as you might expect, the Edge is no Land Rover Discovery but by the more modest mud-plugging standards of other SUVs in this class, it acquits itself very well. A reasonable level of ground clearance - just over 200mm - certainly helps, as does the wheel angle flexibility of the all-independent suspension set-up. This big Ford's 'Intelligent All-Wheel Drive' system is a permanent set-up and, like nearly all its rivals, uses 'Torque On Demand' technology to send power to whichever wheel has the most traction.
In Vignale form, the Edge certainly looks a little more exclusive. Outside, the looks of this variant are distinguished by bespoke chrome-finish fog lamps and a signature Ford Vignale hexagonal upper grille design with a dark matte finish and a polished aluminium surround. Plus there are 19-inch polished aluminium wheels and unique exterior colours that include a rich metallic brown that Ford calls 'Vignale Ametista Scura'.
The refined interior delivers hexagonal-quilted Windsor leather featuring prominent tuxedo-style stitching for the seats and door interiors, offered in light Cashmere or dark Ebony colours. Leather extends to the central armrest and storage console, and to the instrument panel, which features a woven aluminium applique on the passenger side.
Otherwise of course, the recipe is the same as on any other Edge model. The driving position is easy to tailor as the steering wheel moves for reach and angle, and there's lots of space for your head, shoulders and legs. As for rear seat passenger space, well the news is both good and bad. Despite the fact that the boot is huge - with all the seats in place, there's 800-litres of space if you pack to the roof - Ford doesn't provide the option for a third row of seating. In compensation, there's a vast amount of room for second row occupants.
Two Edge Vignale models are available: a 2.0 TDCi diesel with 180PS priced at around £38,000. And a variant that mates a pokier 210PS version of this engine with Ford's Powershift automatic gearbox and is priced at just over £40,000. The plushest Edge model in the standard range is the 'Sport' variant and those prices represent a premium of around £3,000 over that derivative.
Standard equipment on all Edge Vignale variants includes high-grade leather trim, special 19-inch alloy wheels and the brand's latest 'SYNC3' touchcreen infotainment system. Vignale models are sold only at premium 'Ford Store' locations in the UK. At this model's launch, there were 55 of these, enough, says the brand, to ensure that 90% of the population will be with an hour's drive of one. Each of these dealerships will have a dedicated Vignale Lounge area. And owners will be assigned a 'Relationship Manger' who'll be on hand in the dealership and via a hotline to look after their needs. When the time comes for servicing, you'll enjoy a free collection and return service and after every garage visit, your car will get a complementary carwash and premium valet treatment.
Ford is confident that the Edge meets the class standard for efficiency. By only delivering torque where and when it is needed, the car's Intelligent AWD set-up has minimal impact on fuel-efficiency and CO2emissions compared with permanent four-wheel drive systems. As a result, both 2.0 TDCi diesel powertrains aim to deliver 48.7mpg fuel efficiency and 149g/km CO2supported by Auto-Start-Stop technology. All the usual modern efficiency aids are in play to help this Ford achieve this class-competitive showing. So there's Smart Regenerative Charging, which harvests energy that would otherwise be lost under braking. The reasonably sleek shape and carefully fashioned under-body aerodynamic shielding also play their part in reducing drag.
All Edge models come with an unremarkable 3 year/ 60,000 mile Ford warranty, with Ford Assistance at the roadside for the first year. If you plan on keeping your car for longer or are a high mileage driver, you can pay a small extra cost to extend that warranty to either 4 years and 80,000 miles or 5 years and 100,000 miles. There's also the option of a 'Ford Protect Premium Plan' that over two or three years, can cut the cost of scheduled garage visits. On that subject, service intervals arrive every 20,000 miles or two years, depending on which comes soonest.
What we've established then, is that this is more than just another attempt by Ford to sell a big US-made 4x4 over here. Think of this Edge as an S-MAX or Galaxy MPV re-designed for the rough and you'd probably be closer to the mark. But it's more than that too. On prolonged acquaintance, this car reveals itself as a very likeable, capable SUV that's more than up to challenging the best in its class.
This model's also very well equipped, especially in this Vignale guise. Plus it's smart to look at and media savvy. It is, in short, the first really credible large car that Ford has produced this century that wasn't an MPV. An SUV that has a bit of an Edge to it. Try one and you'll see what we mean.
Choose from 1 different Ford Edge Vignale grades.
Images for illustration purposes only