Kuga sets new class
So Ford has only launched the Kuga because the company has flogged off Land Rover, and Jaguar surely? Not so, says Ford. The Freelander is based on the Mondeo platform, whereas Ford’s latest baby is based on the ‘C’ car platform, shared with the Focus and C-MAX. Those who remain unconvinced about size need only take a ride in the back seat.
The Kuga marks several ‘firsts’ for Ford – the first crossover 4×4 model and the first time that the company has launched a car only with a diesel engine. There is a petrol model due later in the year, powered by the Volvo-derived 2.5-litre fivecylinder engine that powers Focus ST and Mondeo models, but Ford expects the diesel to account for well over 90 per cent of sales.
High spec is very much part of the Kuga package – there is no entry-level model in the accepted sense. Two trim levels are on offer – Zetec and Titanium. Standard equipment includes keyless starting, 17-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, ESP, Ford’s easyfuel system to prevent topping up with the wrong fuel, a Thatcham category 1 alarm and an MP3 player connector.
Titanium models add rain-sensing wipers, blue tinted glass, part leather trim, cruise control, lightsensing headlamps, and dual zone climate control air conditioning. Other options include a USB connector, reversing camera, panoramic roof and even a 13 amp socket in the rear.
Powered by the Ford/PSA two-litre common-rail diesel, the engine drives all four wheels via a sixspeed gearbox. The Haldex permanent four-wheeldrive system is used to vary the torque as required between front and rear wheels.
Given that the Focus is one of the best handling cars in its class, it’s no surprise that the Kuga is an absolute cracker. The ride and handling are about as good as it gets in a car with a raised centre of gravity and designed to perform reasonably well off-road. Yet it still delivers plenty of driving pleasure on-road. The suspension is taught yet compliant and it’s still fun to exercise on a twisty A-road despite the inevitable damped steering feedback that goes with the off-road setup. A brief foray on a Spanish track showed that the Kuga can hold its head up in the rough too.
Accommodation is a bit tight for tall adults in the rear and is better suited to children over long distances. The styling gets top marks too with Ford’s ‘Kinetic design’ giving this impressive model distinctive looks too.
ON SALE: JUNE 2008 RANGE STARTS AT: £20,500 FOR KUGA ZETEC TDCi
- Price: £22,500
- Engine: 1997cc, 4 cylinder, turbodiesel
- Gearbox: 6-speed manual
- Max Power: 134bhp at 4,000rpm
- Max Torque: 236lb ft at 2,000rpm
- Max Towing Weight: 2,100kg
- Combined Consumption: 44.1mpg
- CO2 Emissions (taxband): 169g/km (E)
- 0-62mph: 10.7secs
- Max speed: 112mph
- Insurance Group:10