As it slowly expands its new Vignale line to fill a premium slot once held by the Ghia nameplate, Ford has shown the production version of the Kuga SUV on sale in Europe later this year. Vignale versions of the Spanish-made Mondeo [Fusion] four-door sedan and wagon are already in showrooms while dealers are taking orders for the S-Max people carrier and five-door Mondeo hatchback. The Canadian built Edge Vignale SUV goes on sale late in 2016.

The Kuga version is painted pearlescent metallic ‘Milano Grigio’ (a bit like the iPhone’s ‘rose’ option) with ‘Cashmere’ (creamy) leather interior trim. Engine options include EcoBoost petrol and TDCi diesel engines and four wheel drive.

The vehicles can be ordered at ‘FordStores’ across Europe, including Georgia and Turkey or at traditonal dealers. The FordStores incorporate dedicated lounges that, Ford said, “deliver a personalised purchase experience supported by a Vignale relationship manager”. There are 70 such stores here in the UK.

The automaker this year launched new design options to allow further exterior customising.

“On some vehicles, our top Titanium specification accounts for 70% of all sales,” said Jim Farley, chairman and CEO of Ford of Europe. “That’s why we are expanding Vigname from Mondeo to our flagship Edge and S-Max with Kuga to come soon after.”

Ford earlier this year announced a new travel, event and lifestyle service that will make special deals available to Vignale customers and offer access to travel and lifestyle events such as hospitality at London’s annual Chelsea Flower Show and VIP premieres at the Cannes Film Festival.

According to Ford, Spanish-made Vignale models are hand-finished “by master craftspeople” at a special facility within the Valencia factory where lasers and cameras help workers check vehicles from body shell and panel alignment to paint finish. Paint is hand polished for two hours while detailing and stitching of laser-cut leather trim is checked.

All versions have Ford’s latest SYNC 3 communication and entertainment system with faster performance and a new eight-inch touch screen enabling pinch and swipe gestures for the first time. Tri-zone climate control and full-length opening panoramic sunroof are also standard. Driver assistance includes blind spot monitoring, traffic sign recognition, lane keeping alert and aid plus driver alert.

The Kuga petrol engine options are 150PS 1.5-litre EcoBoost with six-speed manual transmission and 2WD or a 182PS variant with with six-speed automatic transmission and AWD. Diesels are 50PS two-litre TDCi with six-speed manual transmission or 180PS manual or Powershift automatic, both with AWD.

Around 80% of the 33,000 Kugas sold last year in the UK were Titanium versions, indicating high demand for luxury variants in the SUV segment that is predicted, by industry sales analyst IHS, to increase to account for 27% of all vehicle sales in Europe by 2020, up from 20% in 2014.

“Ford Europe sales and marketing head, Roelant de Waard, said: “We see great potential to extend the top end of our product range and offer a special experience that meets the growing expectations of our customers.”