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Vignale spec means a lengthy kit roster and full leather trim

Ghibli’s cabin has flair, but the finish is suspect in places ∆ traction, but it never really approaches anything that you could describe as fun. All in all, it’s not the polished, finely tuned, extravagant event you’d expect from a manufacturer of such repute. Does the Vignale feel like the real deal? First impressions in the cabin are promising. While the Maserati may have some questionable fits here and there, the Mondeo feels plush, durable and well equipped, if lacking in overt flamboyance. Everything is functional, everything seems to be of good quality, and it’s very practical. There are handy storage bins dotted around front and back, plus there’s decent space in the back – unlike in the Ghibli, which would make Bilbo Baggins think twice before accepting a lift in the rear cabin’s middle seat. Start the Ford up and, instead of a 3.0 V6, there’s a 2.0-litre fourcylinder diesel powerplant that is

some 100bhp less powerful than the Maserati’s V6, making the Mondeo almost three seconds slower to 62mph from a standing start. But where the Maserati feels a bit sloppy in its handling, the Mondeo is sharp, agile and light. It’s also very quiet. You’re nicely insulated in the cabin, with only some light diesel groans creeping in when you’re wringing the engine’s neck. The Vignale mission statement is to offer an exclusive, premiumfeeling product for Ford customers, encouraging people to hold the brand in the same esteem as highend German rivals. The differences from the standard model aren’t mechanical, though. It gets a fancy hexagonal grille, which does look rather flash, and comes stacked with gear, such as a 12-speaker Sony sound system, electrically adjustable and heated seats and a full leather interior. Along with the kit, you

get other Vignale extras, such as a 24-hour helpline and collection from your home when the car needs servicing. But essentially this is a jazzed-up Titanium model. With no mechanical differences, it means it’s only these cosmetic and kit flourishes that make this car feel any more special than a standard Mondeo. It’s like when Barry from HR had that six-month sabbatical in Australia. He might have come back with a tan and now occasionally wears floral shirts, but he’s still Barry from HR. But there’s nothing wrong with Barry. The Mondeo is a plain but pretty sweet-handling saloon, and the all-wheel drive system, which most of the time sends power solely to the front wheels, makes it feel more composed through the corners than the Ghibli. The six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox does a good job of keeping things smooth, too. But it’s

still a Ford, and it never threatens to tug at your heart strings the way a Maserati might, diesel engine or not. There’s an elephant in the room for both cars, though: depreciation. The used Maser has already lost a sizeable £16,000 – or 30% – of its value in just two years, but there’s still a long way to go. You can expect a similar drop from the Vignale. Its less desirable badge and tech-laden cabin means it’s only going to be a hit on the used market once it becomes cheap, which means that if this is the used car in our 2018 feature (and it might well be), it could cost around £23,000. Which wins? Well, ultimately, as much as it would be great to swan around in a Maserati for £30k, the Mondeo, with its superior handling, plush interior and the Vignale warranty programme, is a much more recommendable car, even if it’s not as romantic. DOUG REVOLTA


This is the premium you’ll pay for the Vignale over a Titanium-spec Mondeo with £2k X pack.


Ford Mondeo Vignale Maserati 2.0 TDCi 180 AWD Ghibli Diesel (2014) Price now Price new Engine Power Torque Gearbox Kerb weight 0-62mph Top speed Economy CO2/tax band

£32,745 £32,745 4 cyls, 1997cc, diesel 177bhp at 3500rpm 295lb ft at 2000rpm 6-spd dual-clutch automatic 1683kg 9.3sec 140mph 53.3mpg (combined) 138g/km, 25%

£31,975 £48,830 V6, 2987cc, diesel 271bhp at 4000rpm 443lb ft at 2000-2600rpm 8-spd automatic 1835kg 155mph 6.3sec 47.9mpg (combined) 158g/km, 31%