Excellent styling gives the all-new Ford Kuga real eye appeal

Excellent styling gives the all-new Ford Kuga real eye appeal

The first Ford Kuga was a latecomer to Australia, having already been on sale in Europe for four years before it reached us early in 2012. Ford finally appears to be getting serious in this market segment, one of Australia’s fastest growing. This time around the all-new TF series Kuga has reached us only a matter of months into its life.

Serious price pruning has the entry-level Kuga Ambiente manual two-wheel drive coming to market at just under $28,000, with the top-line Titanium automatic with 4WD having a recommended retail price of $47,740.

Design of the all-new Ford Kuga first came to light as the Vertrek concept car. Not too far removed from that concept, it has a styling with real eye appeal.
Inside there’s emphasis on tactile quality with a soft instrument panel and upper door panels.

More interior space, particularly in the rear, is a feature when compared with the previous model. Rear seat backs also recline over a 10-degree range, allowing occupants to set seatbacks for individual comfort.

As well, the new Kuga offers 46 litres more cargo space than before, while the rear seats fold flat in a single movement.

Road and wind noise have been significantly reduced to help deliver one of the quietest cabins in the segment.

Arms full of parcels and/or kids? No problem, the Kuga Platinum’s tailgate can be opened hands free by making a simple kicking motion under the rear bumper. Perform the action again and it closes.

New Kuga calls on one of two engines to power the range – a 1.6-litre EcoBoost petrol, or a 2.0- litre Duratorq turbo-diesel. There is either a six-speed manual transmission (Ambiente petrol front-wheel drive only), or a six-speed Ford PowerShift automatic.

We spent at week with a Kuga Trend automatic all-wheel drive priced at $36,240, plus on-roads. This was pushed up to $36,625 with the addition of a premium paint job.

Further adding to Kuga fuel economy are grille shutters which are activated at highway speeds to change the direction of airflow and further smooth out the front of the car.

The new Ford 1.6-litre EcoBoost petrol engine is available in two states of tune – 110 kW / 240 Nm and 134 kW / 240 Nm – the latter being the one powering the test vehicle.

Ford claims fuel consumption has been reduced by 25 per cent over the previous petrol Kuga, with eight litres per hundred kilometres on the combined urban / highway cycle. Typically we found our car using petrol in the low to mid sevens on the motorway, but this leapt to 12 to 13 litres per hundred in town traffic.

Power in our review Kuga was put to the road under the direction of an all-wheel drive system that automatically assesses road conditions 20 times faster than it takes to blink an eye, readjusting the front-rear power split to give optimum handling and safety.

Dynamics and cornering control have been improved by the introduction of the enhanced Torque Vectoring Control system developed for the Focus RS. This applies a small amount of braking to the inside wheels through bends if you attack them too hard and keeps the vehicle on line.

A long list of active and passive safety features is available across the board: seven airbags, including driver’s knee airbag, Dynamic Stability Control with ABS, Trailer Stability Function and Hill Launch Assist (manual only), Brake Assist and rear parking sensors.

Kuga is the first Ford vehicle in Australia to feature Emergency Assistance (EA) across the range. Ford’s interesting Sync system works in conjunction with the driver’s paired smart phone. On detecting airbag deployment or activation of the emergency fuel shut-off, Emergency Assist uses the on-board GPS locator and Bluetooth-paired device to make an emergency call, providing GPS co-ordinates to emergency services.

More than 30 per cent of the body structure made up of high and ultra-high strength steels, the car came up with a maximum five-star crash test rating by both EuroNCAP and the Australasian New Car Assessment Program.

The Ford Kuga comes to market starting at $27,990 for the Ambiente 1.6 litre front-wheel drive manual and tops out at $20,000 later for the Titanium 2 litre diesel automatic all-wheel drive.

A Technology Pack at $2650 adds Active City Stop, adaptive cruise control, blind spot information system, lane keeping aid, lane departure warning, auto high beam driver impairment monitor, while prestige paint is $385 extra.

Like all current model new Fords, the Kuga has capped price servicing for 105,000km or seven years, whichever comes first.

Kuga Ambiente1.6 litre EcoBoost FWD manual $27,990
Kuga Ambiente 1.6 litre EcoBoost AWD automatic $31,490
Kuga 2Trend 1.6 litre EcoBoost AWD automatic $36,240
Kuga 2Trend 2.0 litre TDCi AWD automatic $39,240
Kuga 2Titanium 1.6 litre EcoBoost AWD automatic $44,470
Kuga 2Titanium 2.0 litre TDCi AWD automatic $47,740
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Ford dealer for drive-away prices.

Type: 1.6-litre EcoBoost four-cylinder direct-injection transverse petrol. Single turbocharger
Capacity: 1596 cc
Maximum Power: 134 kW @ 5700 rpm
Maximum Torque: 240 Nm @ 1600-5000 rpm

Transmission: Six-speed SelectShift automatic. Intelligent all-wheel drive

Length: 4524 mm
Width: 1838 mm (2077 mm including mirrors)
Height: 1701 mm (1712 mm with roof rails)
Wheelbase: 2690 mm
Track: 1563 mm (front); 1565 mm (rear)
Approach / departure angles: 21.2 degrees (front), 27.7 degrees (rear)
Ground clearance: 192.9 mm
Cargo area: 406 litres (rear seat backs raised); 1603 litres (rear seatbacks folded)
Shoulder room: 1421 mm (front); 1398 mm (rear)
Headroom: 1013 mm / 973 mm (front without / with panoramic roof). 991 / 950 mm (rear without / with panoramic roof)
Legroom: 1027 (front); 934 mm (rear)
Turning Circle: 11.1 m
Kerb weight: 1657 kg
Towing capacity: 1200 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 60 litres

Front Suspension: Independent with MacPherson struts
Rear Suspension: Control Blade independent multi-link system
Brakes: 320 mm diameter ventilated (front) / 280 mm diameter (rear). Dual circuit, diagonally split, hydraulically operated front and
rear with disc brakes. Vacuum servo-assisted with
electronically controlled four-channel brake distribution ABS
and optimised brake assist, DSC with trailer stabilisation.
Steering: Electric Power-Assisted Steering, 2.6 turns lock-to-lock
Wheels / tyres: 18-inch alloy (7.5 x 18) / 235/50 R18. Mini (steel) spare

Acceleration 0-100 km/h: N/A
Maximum speed: N/A

Combined Cycle (ADR 81/01): 8.0 L/100 km, CO2 emissions 186 g/km
Emission standard: EU5

Greenhouse Rating: 6.5/10
Air Pollution Rating: 7.5/10

Three years / 100,000 km

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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