Ford moves upmarket with new Mustang, Edge and Vignale sub-brandsMon, 10 Mar 2014
Britain's biggest carmaker is fighting back against increased competition from budget brands from below and executive makes from above with an aggressive expansion, which will see it launch three new models by the end of 2015.
Ford is about to introduce models popular in the US over here to stretch its product line-up above the £30,000 threshold. At last week's Geneva Motor Show, the company showed the new Mustang sports car as well as the new Edge crossover (above).
Although prices have yet to be confirmed, both will cost more than £30,000, MSN understands. The Mustang will need little introduction in enthusiast circles - the muscle car is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2014 and this year's new model doesn't veer far from the recipe that has made the 'Stang a perennial favourite Stateside.
The Mustang (below) will be offered in the UK from late 2014 with a choice of turbocharged four-cylinder Ecoboost engines and a thumping V8 for those wanting the real Yankee experience (we won't get the V6 that is offered in other markets). This model has been engineered as a world car for the first time and the handling is said to be vastly improved. It remains to be seen if that means it can challenge Porsche for class handling honours.
Meanwhile, the Edge crossover will bring Ford into the Audi Q5 and BMW X3/X5 marketplace for the first time - it'll become the third SUV in the Blue Oval's range, after the diminutive Ecosport and Kuga family 4x4. Both two- and four-wheel-drive Edges will be offered, most powered by diesel engines.
This Edge shown at Geneva is the same concept car revealed at the 2014 LA Motor Show. The five-seater production version is unlikely to change much when it bows in later this year, ahead of UK sales in the second half of 2015.
And the third strand of Ford's move upmarket is the launch of a new top-end trimline called Vignale in summer 2015. The Mondeo Vignale concept was on the company's stand at the Geneva Motor Show and officials are proud of the quality on board and the services that will come with Vignale ownership.
For instance, owners will be offered pick-up and drop-off facilities from their dealerships, winter-tyre storage and special membership benefits.
"We're benchmarking premium brands and we know that the Vignale matches or betters them in many areas," Darren Palmer, Ford of Europe's large car engineering chief, told MSN Cars. "Whether you look at the quality of the leather or the paintwork, we are neck and neck with the established luxury brands. I think we're going to surprise a lot of people with this car."
Expect to see the Vignale brand launch first on the Mondeo and S-Max models, but insiders suggest it could be rolled out across the whole range. "Size should be no restriction on quality," said one official, admitting that Fiesta and Focus models could benefit from the same treatment in the long run.
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By Tim Pollard, managing editor, MSN Cars