The globalized nature of the auto industry creates plenty of anomalies. This Canada-built, diesel-engined luxury Ford Edge aimed at the European market is one of the more interesting ones. Consider the Edge Vignale to be a visitor from a parallel dimension—or an insight into what Uncle Henry thinks buyers on the other side of the Atlantic want. Barring only the GT supercar, it’s the most expensive Ford product on sale in Europe, pricier even than a V-8–powered Mustang and all but the hugest Transit vans.
Ford intends to produce Vignale variants of pretty much all of its European models, with these positioned above the existing hierarchy of trim levels and aimed—straight-facedly—at premium-brand rivals. These are to be sold using separate lounges at selected dealerships and with a complimentary concierge service similar to that of Lincoln’s U.S.-market Black Label system. Yet, while the Kuga (a.k.a. Escape) Vignale feels distinctly out of its depth—indeed, it made us feel an increased regard for the Lincoln MKC—the classier Edge fares much better in this luxurification process.
Much of this is down to its generous standard equipment. European Fords normally are short on features, but the Vignale has upgraded navigation, LED headlights, 20-inch chrome wheels, and power-adjustable leather seats as standard. It also comes with the enhanced instrument cluster, featuring larger digital display areas integrated into the speedometer and tachometer. Adding all these items to the less expensive, U.K.-market Edge Titanium would bring it close to the same price point.
Then there’s the leather. So much leather. The Edge Vignale gets a hide-trimmed dashtop and door panels to match its upholstery. It doesn’t quite reach Bentley levels of bovine lining, but it’s still unusual for a Ford-badged product. The plusher trim works far more harmoniously in the Edge than it does in the cheaper-feeling Kuga/Escape, thanks to the larger car’s higher quality base interior. It’s true that fingers don’t have to wander far to find some cheaper materials, and the widely distributed buttons for the various HVAC functions don’t feel as if they’re paying much rent, but the overall aura of quality is pretty effective. Space is as generous as always in the Edge, with the lack of a crammed-in third-row seat giving the Vignale an equally cavernous cargo hold as its U.S. sibling.
At this point we should be telling you about the Vignale’s version of the EcoBoost turbocharged 2.7-liter V-6, the same engine that powers our range-topping Edge Sport and the equivalent Lincoln MKX. Sadly, we can’t, because while that muscular powerplant would suit the Vignale particularly well, Ford of Europe offers only four-cylinder diesel power. Specifically, the Edge Vignale relies on the venerable Duratorq 2.0-liter turbo-diesel that was originally co-developed with PSA—the French company that builds Peugeot, Citroën, and DS cars. While we often envy Europe’s sophisticated diesel engines, this isn’t one, being both old-fashioned and crudely coarse compared with better rivals. Two versions are offered in the Edge Vignale: a lesser 178-hp unit that is available only with a six-speed manual gearbox plus a 207-hp version that pairs with Ford’s PowerShift dual-clutch automatic transmission. Both versions have standard all-wheel drive; European Edges don’t have a front-drive option.
The car we drove was the more powerful iteration, which left us with no inclination to experience the lesser version beyond the considerable novelty that would be the experience of driving an Edge with a clutch pedal. The diesel engine strives for adequacy and very nearly delivers it, staying muted under gentle use but quickly starting to sound quite gravelly when stressed. Which, given the lack of urgency, tends to be most of the time. We didn’t extract any performance figures, but Ford’s claim of a 9.4-second zero-to-62-mph time gives a good idea of how leisurely the diesel Edge feels even with maximum accelerator-to-carpet contact. The gearbox has just six ratios but shifts among them cleanly at low speeds, getting more hesitant only when asked to make up its mind quickly. It does, however, change impressively rapidly when shifted manually.
The rest of the Vignale is mechanically identical to the standard Europe-market Edge, although both sit on a firmer suspension compared with the North American models. The ride is pliant and well-damped over rough surfaces, and the Vignale is quite refined at speed, thanks in part to an active noise-cancellation system. There’s a springy weight to the steering’s power assistance, but front-end responses are impressively accurate and the Edge feels wieldy when asked to tackle narrow European roads like those we drove it on in the French Alps. On the far side of the Atlantic, this is a sizable SUV, Ford offering neither the Flex nor the Explorer in Europe, let alone the Expedition.
You Get What You Pay Ford
While the Vignale proves that we shouldn’t be too despondent about the lack of a diesel engine in the American Edge, there’s still plenty to like about the rest of it—we could imagine some of its plush trim and chrome-heavy design creating a halfway model between the regular Edge and its gussied-up Lincoln MKX cousin. But in Europe, this über-Edge will likely wander the wilderness in search of a purpose—and customers. The most expensive model in any range isn’t normally the volume seller, but the Vignale’s price will reduce its appeal beyond a wealthy minority. Fully optioned and with the requisite value-added taxes, it will cost more than £45,000 in the U.K. and €52,000 in Germany—call it roughly $57,500 at current exchange rates. Suddenly, the $41,295 base price of our 315-hp Edge Sport is looking like a real bargain.