A word on one of City's sponsorsTHE NEWLY-INTRODUCED Ford Vignale is aimed as a direct competitor to the Audis and BMWs of the world in both the Fleet and Private Executive Saloon car market.
With Vospers of Exeter being one of the leading Ford dealerships in Britain as well as one of the major business partners of Exeter City Football Club, it made sense to have the Grecians' chairman Julian Tagg, along with club Business Development Manager Bruce Henderson, act as the guinea pigs and give the Vignale a road test in their own leisure time, reporting back to Vospers and the club's fans plus corporate clients on their findings.
Accordingly, a beautifully presented dark brown metallic Vignale was handed over and subsequently driven up and down the motorway in the early evening before being driven down on the main roads to Torquay to watch the Gulls beat Altrincham in a vital relegation battle and back to Exeter in the dark via the gradients and bends on the narrow twists and turns of Teignmouth road. The result was two very big fans of the new addition to the growingly impressive Ford range.
Overall, the Ford Vignale is the epitome of the modern executive saloon, more than able to stand favourable comparison with the current market leading models of choice in this segment. Bruce Henderson noted: "I think that potential buyers in this category need to look beyond the badge and see the car. If they do that then I can see an awful lot of Ford Vignales on the roads very soon with a lot of very satisfied drivers behind the steering wheels of what is a tremendous vehicle."
The car driven was a 6-speed manual and whilst both drivers felt that an automatic would have suited the model better, they did acknowledge this was probably a matter of age and habit and that many drivers would want to use what is a very easy to judge and use gear box, with third gear being particularly impressive. An automatic gear box is of course an option anyway when purchasing. Cruising on the motorway is a joy whether using the easy to operate hand speed control system or using the conventional foot throttle. Fuel consumption by the turbo diesel engine was an impressive 39 mpg by the end of the test period.
The car also held the bends well, has an extremely responsive but smooth braking system and accelerates smoothly through all six gears with only second being slightly less impressive than the other five options. The steering wheel adjustments meant that every driver can have a position to suit and despite the size and obvious but smooth power of the model, the steering was easy and responsive to both the straights and the tight bends.
The model boasts a three position seat adjustment memory as well as an adjustable driver’s seat lumbar support, heated seats plus heated steering wheel and anti-mist heated front screen and the usual modern refinements of DAB radio and sat-nav plus all the usual Bluetooth facilities. However, it was the extra additions to the on-board refinements that intrigued the intrepid driving duo with the speed limits being automatically picked up and displayed on one of the easy to read dials, a display that showed when the car was in the middle of its correct lane or nearing the edges of the lane and an automatic main and dip beam function that made "light work" of night driving.
Naturally, in this day and age and in this market segment, the car operates on an eco-setting with the engine turning off when idle, re-starting automatically when pulling away again and the hand break is a convenient switch with the stop start function also being via an ‘easy operate’ button on the dash board.
What also proved invaluable on the day was the rear reversing camera and the all -round sensors that surround the car and mean that the driver is aware when manoeuvring in tight or restricted places of exactly when the car is nearing any obstruction. Most intriguing and impressive of all though was the automatic parking function. In short, when the drivers went to park in a tight space near to the Torquay stadium, the car simply took over! Yes, it told the driver to take his hands from the wheel and it reversed itself into the space available that it had identified! Such was the impression that this ultra-modern function made on the driving duo, it was not only the first time that Julian Tagg has been told what to do and quietly accepted it, it is also the first time that Bruce Henderson has ever been silenced! As Julian Tagg said as they departed the car for the Plainmoor Stadium: "We had better take the key in case it decides to drive off home on its own and leave us here."
The final conclusion was that Torquay won and look on course to stay in the National League, the weather was as splendid as some of the scenery passed and the car an absolute joy to drive. Definitely, like Exeter City Football Club, the Ford Vignale is one to watch.