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Ford readies striking new Kuga SUV. Image by Ford.

Ford readies striking new Kuga SUV
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What's all this about?

This is our first detailed look at the all-new, third-generation Ford Kuga. Replacing the C520 Mk2, which has been on sale since 2012, there are THREE hybrid drivetrains for this newcomer.

Three?! Is that strictly necessary?

Ford thinks so. Kicking off the show is the Kuga Plug-In Hybrid and there's a clue in its name as to which one this is. So, the PHEV SUV has a 2.5-litre, four-cylinder, Atkinson-cycle petrol engine that is coupled to an electric motor/generator and a 10.3kWh lithium-ion battery. All told, this little lot serves up 225hp and means the Kuga Plug-In Hybrid can do more than 31 miles on electric power alone, all while giving back NEDC-correlated, WLTP-certified figures of (wait for it!) 235.4mpg and 29g/km of CO2. A charging port on the front wing of the Kuga PHEV will allow it to recharge from the mains in four hours, on a 230-volt supply.

What about the other two hybrids?

The Kuga Hybrid uses the same 2.5 Atkinson-cycle engine, but doesn't have as big a lithium-ion battery (as yet, its kWh rating is unspecified) as the PHEV. It therefore will only have brief EV-only running capabilities, but you won't ever have to plug it in to charge it, resulting in 50.4mpg with 130g/km of CO2. That one won't land until later in 2020. The Kuga EcoBlue Hybrid, meanwhile, is a MHEV, or mild hybrid electric vehicle, which employs a 48-volt electrical system with a belt-driven integrated starter/generator to augment a 150hp 2.0-litre EcoBlue turbodiesel engine. All told, 56.5mpg and 132g/km of CO2 are quoted. The Kuga Hybrid, by the way, will either be front- or four-wheel drive. No word on the other two's tractive powers.

Have I got to have hybrid-power for my Kuga Mk3?

Not at all, a couple of turbocharged petrol (EcoBoost) and diesel (EcoBlue) motors will be offered. The petrol choices are provided by a 1.5-litre, three-cylinder unit with either 120- or 150hp - this is related to the one found in the Fiesta ST, as it can switch off one of its cylinders to run as a 'twin'. That should mean best eco-stats of 43.5mpg and 149g/km CO2. The diesels are split into a 1.5-litre, 120hp motor and a 2.0-litre, 180hp derivative. The former can turn in 58.9mpg and 127g/km of CO2, while the latter - which comes as an eight-speed automatic with Ford's Intelligent All-Wheel Drive - returns 49.6mpg with 150g/km. No other purely combustion-engined Kuga Mk3 has been listed as having i-AWD as yet, while only the diesels can be teamed with the eight-speed auto; the standard transmission is a six-speed manual. All engines conform to Euro 6.2 emissions regs, under WLTP.

OK, what else can you tell me?

Well, just by looking at the third-gen Kuga, you can see where it gets its aesthetic influences. There's more than a hint of Fiesta and Focus about the front end, while the rear clearly ties in with the larger Edge. The body is based on Ford's latest 'C2' global architecture, which means it's tougher, more aerodynamic, lighter (by up to 90kg, when held up to comparable Mk2 models) and more spacious. Indeed, to this last end, it's 89mm longer (with a wheelbase stretched by 20mm) and 44mm wider, so we'll come onto the cabin in a sec. As to the specs, they'll run Titanium, ST-Line and then Vignale, with decent kit on all - expect 17s, eye-catching front skid-plates and a rear diffuser, body-coloured exterior trim (mirrors, side cladding, door handles etc), LED daytime running lights and more. Wheels of up to 20-inch items will be offered, while 12 colours include three new shades: Diffused Silver, Sedona Orange and Blue Panther, the last of which will be exclusive to the Vignale model.

And the cabin, then?

Roomy. Up front, passengers will enjoy increased shoulder-room (+43mm) and hip-room (+57mm), while the rear-seat occupants also see gains (shoulder-room +20mm, hip-room +36mm). While the Kuga Mk3 is actually 20mm lower than a Kuga Mk2, headroom is improved - by 13mm in the front and 35mm in the rear. The rear bench, which can have heated outer chairs for the first time in a Kuga, can slide backwards and forwards - either to maximise rear legroom at a 'best-in-class' 124mm, or to boost the cargo bay by 67 litres. We haven't got data on the boot space as yet, although it should be comfortably more than the old model's 456-litre load area.

Anything else on the cabin?

There's also lots of tech including a driver-assist safety system roster that's as long as your arm (seriously, we're not listing it here, we could be going on all day...) and also luxuries like FordPass Connect (turning the Kuga Mk3 into a WiFi hotspot for up to ten devices), a wireless smartphone 'Qi' charging pad, SYNC 3 infotainment on an eight-inch central touchscreen, a 12.3-inch TFT instrument cluster and a ten-speaker, 575-watt B&O Sound System. Some of this stuff, of course, will be optional, but a hands-free tailgate that can be opened with a 'kicking' motion under the rear bumper should be standard-fit across the board. Ford also says the new Kuga has Active Noise Control, which will broadcast sound-cancelling waves through the audio system to enhance interior refinement.

When should it go on sale?

We're anticipating it being in showrooms well before the year is out. Whenever it appears, though, this will be a crucial car for Ford - SUVs are big business nowadays and the Blue Oval's range is somewhat lacklustre, as it stands. The Kuga Mk3 could change all that - and it has been popular, ever since it first appeared way back in 2008. Even last year, Ford sold 275,100 SUVs across Europe, an increase of 19 per cent on 2017's numbers and driven, in part, by the ageing Kuga Mk2. Hopes are high for the Mk3, then.

Matt Robinson - 2 Apr 2019

2019 Ford Kuga. Image by Ford.2019 Ford Kuga. Image by Ford.2019 Ford Kuga. Image by Ford.2019 Ford Kuga. Image by Ford.2019 Ford Kuga. Image by Ford.

2019 Ford Kuga. Image by Ford.2019 Ford Kuga. Image by Ford.2019 Ford Kuga. Image by Ford.2019 Ford Kuga. Image by Ford.2019 Ford Kuga. Image by Ford.    - Ford road tests
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