Ford Motor Company unveiled the new Ford S‑MAX Vignale Concept today in Milan as it continues to expand its vision for a unique upmarket product and ownership experience for European customers.
The new Ford S-MAX Vignale Concept follows the introduction last year of the Ford Mondeo Vignale Concept and expresses the premium design, craftsmanship, and exclusive specification customers can expect from Ford Vignale. A production version of the Mondeo Vignale will be available to customers next year followed by a production S-MAX Vignale.
"Spacious and aspirational, the S-MAX Vignale Concept goes beyond traditional automotive design and speaks to customers who value aesthetics," said Martin Smith, executive director, Design, Ford of Europe. "Our Vignale designers were inspired by trends from furniture to fashion to create this new expression of Ford."
In addition to revealing the S-MAX Vignale in Milan, Ford is showcasing its vision for the Vignale consumer experience this week at the Salone del Mobile, the world's leading furniture design expo. The design of the Ford stand at Salone del Mobile is a preview of the "Vignale Lounge" retail experience that will be rolled out in select Ford retailers throughout Europe. Ford also will display a Vignale lifestyle collection, including a bespoke travel bag that was awarded an iF Design award.
The personalised experience customers can expect when Vignale launches in Europe in 2015 will include a dedicated relationship manager, as well as VIP collection and delivery services.
Unique product execution
The new S-MAX Vignale Concept features dedicated 21-inch Vignale alloy wheels with fine detailing and high quality finish; jewellery-like appliques and chrome mirror caps; a distinctive hexagonal Vignale grille design; and unique "Milano Grigio" paint colour. The S-MAX concept also offers exclusive Vignale-embossed seating with hexagonal quilting and high-quality and soft-touch leather enhanced with woven texture-embossed aluminium detailing.
Technology highlights include advanced car-to-car communications, tablet device-docking stations for second row seats and an intelligent flexible seating concept with thin seat technology.
The S-MAX Vignale Concept delivers a new take on S-MAX's sharply styled, sleek exterior, characteristic profile and dynamic roof arc.
The new Vignale colour, "Milano Grigio", a pearlescent jewel-like tone, is directly influenced by rose metallic tones evident in furniture and fashion designs on display at Salone del Mobile. The attention to colour runs throughout the vehicle with Dark Rose Grey detailing in the exhausts, hexagonal air-vent surrounds, and the lower front fascia.
The technical grille application with hexagonal design first demonstrated with the Mondeo Vignale Concept is again present for the S-MAX Vignale Concept. The grille features a darker matt metallic finish with polished aluminium surround.
"We can see from the designs around us at Salone del Mobile and Milan Design Week that modern luxury does not need to be loud," said Stefan Lamm, exterior design director, Ford of Europe. "Lighter tones and careful application of detailing have helped us deliver a level of sophistication Ford customers have not seen before."
The light exterior is matched with a darker interior scheme taking inspiration in part from current menswear trends. Further colours and design have been inspired by eclectic takes on furniture – including high-end sofas – which offer sleek, contemporary lines and hand-stitched pearlescent leathers.
Leather extends from the dashboard and instrument panel to sweep past the glass roof to the rear luggage compartment in a single colour that creates a lounge-like environment.
Metallic textures are applied in warm tones. Woven texture-embossed aluminium behind the steering wheel and across the passenger side dashboard is indicative of the craftsmanship applied throughout, further demonstrated by a directional, brush-painted panel above the central display that features aluminium Vignale lettering.
The seats feature a new variation on the quilting effect first demonstrated in the Mondeo Vignale Concept. Front seats and outer rear seats feature hexagonal quilting bordered with square quilting that stretches across the centre-rear seat and front armrest. "Tone-on-tone" stitching with thick dark red thread highlight the seat centres and is complemented by lighter exterior thread at the seats' perimeters.
"The tonal connections and the quality of craftsmanship and detailing inject a sense of tradition into the S‑MAX Vignale Concept," said Sonja Vandenberk, chief designer, Colour and Material, Ford of Europe. "The design language itself is on the cusp of the latest fashion and furniture trends, reflecting inspirations in terms of fabrics, leathers, colours and detailing."
Meeting customer demand
Ford said half of its large cars are sold in high series specification; and that 10 to 15 percent of customers want an even higher level of specification and customer service.
"We know that many customers are looking for a Ford that's more exclusive and upscale than we currently offer in Europe," said Roelant de Waard, vice president, Marketing, Sales and Service, Ford of Europe. "The other key trend is the desire for a more memorable and personalised ownership experience that is tailored to individuals and respects their time. Vignale will meet these needs in a fresh way."
Ford research shows more than one third of premium brand car buyers consider high levels of customer service a key difference between a mainstream and upmarket experience. The research also revealed that sales staff competence and efficiency are the two biggest influencers of customer satisfaction. And showroom appearance and quality of hospitality are two of the top three factors that influence customer expectations of a brand.
Ford will provide a specially-trained relationship manager as the single customer contact throughout the Vignale purchasing experience. Reflecting the notion that for Vignale customers, time is the most valued resource, Vignale will offer collection and delivery for vehicle servicing alongside servicing scheduled to suit the owner.
"Vignale Lounges" in select Ford dealerships, mostly in metropolitan locations, will be dedicated to delivering a personalised service. The "Vignale Lounge" will offer stimulating, secluded environments to sample exclusive materials and colours and discover exciting features and technologies. It will reflect the quality to be found within the product and provide customers with a relaxing environment.
"Vignale offers a special product and the intangible qualities that allow the customer to feel differently about the experience," Roelant said. "The convenience offered by personalised delivery, collection for servicing will make Vignale a valued part of customers' lives."