Tottenham, Tottenham, no one can stop them
When motoring journalists review a Ford, they usually wax lyrical about Fords ability to make their cars get to drive. Take the Ford Kuga Mk1 for instance, which not only drove well it was a seriously attractive car as well. But, with a model change in 2013, Ford’s Kuga Mk2 has gone more upmarket & also increased in size, which has led to the new model losing some of it’s good looks & a little of its on-road fun in the quest for a more premium image. You can’t blame Ford though, because as SUV demand grows, so too does customer desire to spec up their SUV & in order to appease these customers, who have been buying the top of the range Titanium X model, Ford has added a new range topper the Titanium X Sport to the Kuga range.
The Kuga certainly looks the part with a body kit, which highlights both deeper front and rear bumpers with bright silver inserts, a silver skid plate on the front, chunky side skirts, 19” alloy wheels & a rear spoiler. Inside, the cabin is nicely put together, with the Ford ‘look’ seen on the Focus & Fiesta carried through to the Kuga, particularly in the way that the dashboard is laid out & in particular the info-tainment system. There are however a lot of buttons on the dash & perhaps Ford need to consider the less is more option particularly when you’re trying to decipher the DAB radio, which I failed to do in my week in the Kuga. The SatNav screen is also a problem as it’s too small for this car, sitting as it does a fair distance from the driver, meaning that following the map is not as easy as in the Fiesta or Focus where the screen is much nearer to the driver.
Titanium X-Sport trim gets a full leather interior with ten-way electrically adjustable & heated front seats, a panoramic sunroof, SONY DAB radio with sat-nav, a Convenience Pack that includes, active park assist, front & rear parking sensors & a rear-view camera, plus a power tailgate.These are the things that SUV customers have come to expect on their SUV’s & if you want more Ford also offer a Drivers Assistance Pack containing active city stop, a lane keeping aid traffic sign recognition, driver alert & auto high beam for an additional £550, as well as Blind Spot Information System for £525 & a keyless opening with hands-free power tailgate, opened by wiggling your foot under the rear of the car, which will push the price up to about £33,500, BMW X3 territory.
The 178bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine is great to drive with plenty of power in the mid-range & a top speed of 126 mph catapulting the 1,702 kg car on a 0-62 mph dash in 9.2 seconds. The new Kuga has light precise steering & despite it’s increased size, still feels agile to drive, taking corners with very little body roll & shining in cruise control mode on the motorway. The Titanium-X comes with 4WD as standard, so owners can rest assured that the car will remain stable in difficult road conditions. The 19’ wheels may look good, but as is often the case, they generate a lot of road noise which transfers to the cabin at higher speeds. The engine though is quiet even when pushed & this is an improvement over the Mk1 Kuga.
As is space. There’s a generous amount of legroom in both the front & rear. Headroom is also impressive, although the panoramic sunroof does eat into this slightly. The rear seatbacks can be reclined via a lever to provide a bit more space. This same lever also drops the seats in one easy movement to create a longer boot space. with an increased volume of 1,928 litres fully 600 litres more than the old model.The new Kuga also improves it’s rear boot space by 82-litres up to 442-litres getting it above the Volkswagen Tiguan & closer to the class leading Honda CR-V & Mazda CX-5. My family plus medium sized dog found this space more than adequate for our needs. I particularly liked the middle rear seats width & legroom which offers enough room for a grown up to siesta comfortable in the back, which cannot be said for all cars in this class.
Company car drivers will want it know the all important fuel figures. Ford claims that the Titanium X Sport will return 54.3mpg on the combined cycle, while emitting 135g/km CO2, both impressive. Our real world figure was 37.2 mpg, very close to the figures we achieved in the similar sized CRV, CX5 & X-Trail.
At £2,950 more than the Titanium X model, which also comes well-equipped; you get a gloss-black grille surround, part-leather seats, automatic headlights, dual-zone climate control, the Ford SYNC phone voice-control system plus a DAB radio, the X Sport model is not cheap & many company car drivers might be better opting for a 2WD. There are three lower specced models in the Kuga range; Zetec, Titanium as well as Titanium X & even on the entry-level Zetec models, 17″ alloy wheels, sports seats, daytime running lights, cruise control & keyless go are standard. Certainly food for thought.
In what is an increasingly competitive sector, the Kuga Mk2 needed Fords improvements over the old model just to get it back in the ball game. Having said that, in a sector where looks seem to be more coveted than fuel economy or practicality, the Kuga fits in nicely & in this respect Ford has created an appealing alternative to the Honda CRV, Toyota Rav4, VW Tiguan & Mazda CX5.
A Europa League 3/5.