What are you driving?
If a regular Ford Kuga SUV won't cut it for you, there is this, the new Kuga Vignale. Ford treats this range-topping model almost like a separate sub-brand, but when you look a little closer, you'll see that not all that much has changed.
Name its best bits
Refinement is one key attribute the Ford Kuga Vignale has. As per the usual Vignale process, it receives additional sound deadening materials in its construction, along with features like an acoustic windscreen and side glass to reduce road noise. Helping that further is the introduction of a new 1.5-litre petrol engine. There are three versions in total, but this 182hp unit is only available with a six-speed automatic transmission. When driving steadily and without urgency the transmission eases between gear ratios smoothly and in a reasonably hushed manner. There are plenty of creature comforts inside the Kuga Vignale, though many can be specified on the regular Kuga also.
You do get lots of equipment to choose from in the Kuga Vignale model, including items such as heated seats, a heated windscreen and even heated windscreen washer jets so that they don't freeze over in winter. Other features include an electrically-operated tailgate and a panoramic glass roof.
Anything that bugs you?
When you drive more spiritedly the petrol engine feels laboured and frankly like it has less power than the 182hp figure would suggest. Despite going to some lengths to make the Kuga Vignale look different to the more conventional Kuga models on the outside, inside it doesn't feel special enough to justify the expectedly high price. Yes, you get different seats that feature the now signature Vignale quilted design, and yes there is some new leather upholstery across the dashboard and door cards, but nothing jumps out at you to suggest that this is something significantly better.
And why have you given it this rating?
There is always going to be limited appeal to Irish buyers for a car such as the Kuga Vignale. Many seeking premium qualities are more likely to be looking to the traditional premium brands and models like the Audi Q5 and Land Rover Discovery Sport. The Kuga Vignale just doesn't deliver the same qualities.
On the mechanical side of things, should you opt for this 182hp petrol version you will face reduced fuel economy (Ford quotes a combined 7.5 litres/100km), but also a hefty annual motor tax bill due to its CO2 emissions of 173g/km. There are both 120- and 150hp versions of this 1.5-litre petrol engine available, with just front-wheel drive, but even these don't fare much better in terms of emissions and fuel consumption. Pity, as Ford can do some very good things with 182hp engines - Ford Fiesta ST anyone?
I want to know more
This test drive format is intended to give our first impressions of a car that we may have reviewed in more detail elsewhere in a different specification. Go to our Ask Us Anything page, send us a question and we'll give you as much detail as you need on any specific aspect.