Tuesday 20th April 2021
Car Enthusiast - click here to access the home page

 



First drive: Ford Kuga. Image by Ford.

First drive: Ford Kuga
Ford replaces its Kuga SUV with a longer, more spacious model, but some of the flair goes with the added practicality.

 



<< earlier review     later review >>

Reviews homepage -> Ford reviews

| First Drive | Valencia, Spain | Ford Kuga |

Overall rating: 4 4 4 4 4

Bigger, more comfortable, more efficient and better equipped, the Ford Kuga is everything you'd expect from a new model, but some of the head-turning appeal of the original has been lost with this second-generation model.

Key Facts

Model tested: Ford Kuga 2.0 TDCi 163 AWD Titanium manual
Pricing: 25,545
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel
Transmission: four-wheel drive, six-speed manual
Body style: five-door SUV
Rivals: Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Volkswagen Tiguan
CO2 emissions: 154g/km
Combined economy: 47.9mpg
Top speed: 123mph
0-62mph: 9.9 seconds
Power: 163hp at 3,750rpm
Torque: 340Nm at 2,000- to 3,250rpm

In the Metal: 4 4 4 4 4

Ford's quest for greater interior space for the Kuga has resulted in something of a change of shape. Gone is the four-square, squat upright stance of the original, replaced by a more conventional, longer, lower SUV silhouette. Being cruel, the Kuga could be described as a tall Focus Estate, though it just manages to escape that thanks to some neat detailing - such as the upswept D-pillar. What's surprising is that, although billed as new, the Kuga doesn't wear the prominent, gaping grille of Ford's most recent Fiesta and forthcoming Mondeo.

That underlines the Kuga's position as a world car, which, badged as Escape, has been on sale in the USA since last year. The interior is familiar Ford, which means a smart driving environment with a hooded instrument cowl and large dash-top infotainment console surrounded by air vents. The greater overall length does liberate significantly more space inside though, the cabin airier than before, and those in the rear benefit from far greater legroom. The boot is large too - and opens automatically with a sweep of your foot under the rear bumper - while the rear seats fold quickly and easily to create a flat floor for larger loads.

Driving it: 4 4 4 4 4

Ford might have made this new Kuga a world car, but its dynamics remain firmly European. That's good news for the driver, as the Kuga retains its position as one of the very best cars in its class in terms of driver appeal. Key to this is the steering and suspension, the steering wheel offering consistent weighting and accuracy at its chunky rim. There's a lack of feel, but it's still more informative than its rivals' systems, so the Kuga is an entertaining steer on a winding road. The chassis delivers too, the Kuga remaining largely flat when cornering, that ability achieved in conjunction with a supple, controlled ride. It's agile enough to forget you're in something so tall, though get too carried away and the Kuga's numerous driver aids will rein in your overenthusiasm in a relatively unobtrusive manner.

The electronically controlled all-wheel drive system is all-new to this Kuga. Entirely developed by Ford it juggles torque to the axle that most needs it, as much as 100% able to be diverted front or rear. It all works without any fuss, so the only way to monitor what the 4x4 system is doing is via one of the option screens in the instrument cluster.

If there's a weak point in the Kuga's make up it's the 2.0-litre TDCi engine. In its most powerful 163hp guise it doesn't feel particularly punchy, the relatively narrow spread of torque output keeping you busy with the six-speed manual gearbox - though at least it shifts across its gate with familiar Ford accuracy. Push the TDCi engine into the upper rev range and it all gets a bit raucous, too, ruining the otherwise decent refinement.

What you get for your Money: 4 4 4 4 4

Like for like the Kuga is cheaper than the outgoing model and Ford has added more equipment across the line-up too. Base level Zetec comes with cruise control, air conditioning, 17-inch alloy wheels and a leather covered steering wheel. Titanium and Titanium + benefit from Ford's Sync connectivity package, which links your smartphone to the infotainment system via Bluetooth and incorporates Emergency Assist - using GPS to locate you and inform emergency services if you have an accident.

Worth Noting

The Kuga is offered in both front- and four-wheel drive specifications, and the latter models are offered with a 140hp 2.0 TDCi engine or a 150hp 1.6-litre EcoBoost petrol unit. Two transmissions are currently offered, a six-speed manual, or a six-speed Powershift dual-clutch automatic. The 1.6-litre petrol engine will also gain the option of a conventional six-speed automatic - with a torque converter.

Summary

In every measurable way the Ford Kuga takes a sizeable leap over its predecessor, while still retaining its enjoyable driving dynamics and respectable economy. Only the slightly less dramatic looks count against it in our eyes, the Kuga now merely handsome rather than striking. In a relatively conservative marketplace it still stands out, though it would benefit from a more powerful turbodiesel option - to better enjoy its fine dynamics.


Kyle Fortune - 31 Jan 2013









  www.ford.co.uk    - Ford road tests
- Ford news
- Kuga images

2013 Ford Kuga. Image by Dave Humphreys.2013 Ford Kuga. Image by Dave Humphreys.2013 Ford Kuga. Image by Dave Humphreys.2013 Ford Kuga. Image by Dave Humphreys.2013 Ford Kuga. Image by Dave Humphreys.

2013 Ford Kuga. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2013 Ford Kuga. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2013 Ford Kuga. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2013 Ford Kuga. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2013 Ford Kuga. Image by Ford.



2013 Ford Kuga. Image by Ford.
 

2013 Ford Kuga. Image by Ford.
 

2013 Ford Kuga. Image by Ford.
 

2013 Ford Kuga. Image by Ford.
 

2013 Ford Kuga. Image by Ford.
 

2013 Ford Kuga. Image by Ford.
 

2013 Ford Kuga. Image by Ford.
 

2013 Ford Kuga. Image by Ford.
 

2013 Ford Kuga. Image by Ford.
 






 

Internal links:   | Home | Privacy | Contact us | Archives | Follow Car Enthusiast on Twitter | Copyright 1999-2021 ©