Ford’s Best-Selling New SUV
Ford first launched its Kuga range in 2008, with its second generation launched in 2012. Ford again refreshed the Kuga in 2017 with a minor facelift, which was inspired by the US market to include a new Ford SUV corporate grille, similar to the one used on the Ford Edge and also the addition of new trims including the sporty ST-Line and the luxury Vignale. This new look makes the Kuga more distinctive and rugged. The Kuga is a global car sold all around the world, it is popular amongst buyers looking for safe family motoring with an elevated seating position, which is practical and fuel-efficient.
The Kuga is 8mm lower, 4mm narrower and 81mm longer than the first generation. This means that there is more space in the boot – with 456-litres available with the rear seats in place and 1,653-litres with the rear seats folded. Leg and headroom for rear passengers is also very impressive. This also means that the Kuga has now moved upmarket and competes directly with the SEAT Ateca, Opel Grandland X, Mazda CX-5, Peugeot 3008, Skoda Kodiaq and the Nissan Qashqai.
The Kuga line-up starts with the Titanium entry model, which comes well equipped with SYNC3 with 8” touchscreen DAB audio system with enhanced voice control and Emergency Assistance, cruise control, dual zone electronic air-conditioning and 17-inch alloys. Next up is the Kuga ST-Line which comes with a full body-styling kit, sports suspension, 18” alloys, enhanced Active Park Assist, ST-Line seats, gear knob and steering wheel, dark headliner material, black roof rails, alloy foot pedals and exterior ST-Line badges. The luxurious Kuga Vignale model has a Vignale body-styling kit, Bi-Xenon headlights with jet wash, LED tail lamps, full leather seats, 10-way power adjustable driver seat, Vignale leather steering wheel and interior finishing, auto-wipers, Quickclear heated windscreen, power-folding mirrors and 9-speaker Sony audio system. Also standard on all models, Ford intelligent protection system (IPS), Emergency Brake Assist (EBA), Anti-Lock Braking (ABS) with Electronic stability control includes trailer sway control and hill start assist (includes roll over mitigation (RDM).
With the Kuga Vignale, you not only get more luxury than has ever been seen on any SUV before but also what the brand calls ‘Ford Vignale Services’ a system that will give you your own personal ‘Vignale Relationship Manager’, there to make your ownership experience just that little bit more pleasant. You can enjoy the full Ford Vignale experience only at a dedicated Ford Store (of which there are 4 in Ireland). In the tranquil environment of the Ford Vignale Lounge, you can sample exclusive materials and colours. To help free up your valuable time, a specially-trained Vignale Relationship Manager will provide a personalised service tailored to your requirements. As a Ford Vignale owner, you need only call one number to access everything relating to Ford Vignale Services. Whether it’s arranging collection for servicing at a place of your choice or a loan vehicle to be brought to the collection point, one call is all that is needed – day or night, seven days a week.
The Kuga drives exceptionally well thanks to its Ford Focus underpinnings and the same torque vectoring system from the Focus RS. The Kuga delivers firm handling, with plenty of grip, while the torque vectoring system helps keep the car locked on your chosen line. The ST-Line’s stiffened sports suspension delivers excellent body control. Titanium models are available in front-wheel drive only while ST-Line and Vignale models offer all-wheel drive as an option. The Kuga’s all-wheel drive system provides sure-footed handling on all terrains.
I was provided with the opportunity of driving both the ST-Line with all-wheel drive and the Vignale in front-wheel drive guise. Both engines were 2.0-litre TDCi (turbo-diesel) with 150bhp in the Vignale and 180bhp in the ST-Line. Both test cars had a smooth and responsive 6-speed manual gearbox, but a PowerShift (automatic) is available in all models. Other engine options across the Kuga range include a 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol engine with 150bhp and a 1.5-litre TDCi with 120bhp (not available in the Vignale model).
Fuel economy is yet another Kuga strong point with the 2.0-litre TDCi engine with 150bhp consuming as little as 4.3l/100km on a extra-urban driving cycle while the 180bhp TDCi engine consumes as little as 4.7l/100km on the same driving cycle. With the Kuga range starting from as little as €33,395 (ex works) in Titanium specification, it represents excellent value for money. Prices for the ST-Line model start at €36,195 (ex works) while the Vignale model starts at €42,385 (ex works).
With its smart styling, spacious interior and generous levels of standard equipment, it is no surprise that the Ford Kuga sells in the numbers it does. It is a safe car too, with a five-star Euro NCAP crash-test rating. Buyers in the market for a safe, practical and fun-to-drive 5-seat SUV should definitely give the Ford Kuga due consideration.