Parting is such sweet sorrow, as Juliet said to Romeo in Shakespeare’s play about star-crossed lovers. It’s an apt adieu for our departing long-termer, the Ford Kuga Vignale. I’m really sorry to see it go. It has been with us for 14 months, and mine in particular for the past five, after I prised the editor’s grasp from the steering wheel.
It’s a car of which I must admit I had no special expectation ñ another largish SUV amongst so many others that are a tidal surge in today’s traffic. It isn’t even in a colour I’d instinctively choose, yet another of the many hues of monochrome that are currently so popular. The big Ford’s dark gunmetal paintwork is dignified and business-like, and a boon to its residual value, though not to spotting it in a car park amongst so many others in a uniform sea of greyness. My cousin deliberately bought a bright yellow car, much to the rest of the family’s mirth, simply because it guaranteed he can always see at a distance where he has parked it. But I digress.
Somehow the Kuga managed to worm its big hunky way into our family’s affections far more insistently than I ever expected. On analysis, it really has a lot going for it. It is big without being ostentatious, roomy without feeling overly bulky, and handsome without shrieking look-at-me in the traffic. It has 4×4 capability, though with no pretensions as a mud-plugger. It is lavishly equipped, without the upper-crust pricing that would accompany a more prestige badge on the grille.
The decor is elevated to a level above other Ford models, with its Vignale trim and leather seating in an attractive honeycomb design. As someone of relatively modest stature, I have particularly liked the elevation of the Kuga’s driving seat position, too. It’s a tall SUV that lifts your eye level above much of the lower-slung traffic, including many of the less lofty crossovers. It doesn’t dilute a pushy white van man’s cut-and-thrust presence in the traffic, but at least you can look him in the eye without feeling intimidated by a steep gaze upwards.
Its 2.0-litre TDCi engine has proved well up to the job of hauling a car that weighs more than 1,700kgs, and it’s no slouch. At a legal 70mph motorway cruise it sits 54mph below its flat-out capability, with engine and road noise happily subdued and hardly any evidence of air rushing over the bodywork. A 0-62 sprint time in 10 seconds is pretty average, but it definitely feels quicker off the mark than the raw figure suggests. I’ve liked the EcoMode device in the dashboard display that encourages you to strive for good economy by adding petals to digital flowers, although it never managed to push the Kuga’s mpg anywhere near its old 54.3mpg under the previous regime for economy figures. Actual figures have been in the 41 to 42mpg bracket, much closer to the new WLTP economy figure of 43.5mpg.
The Kuga has its flaws, including the slightly awkwardly set-back navigation screen, rear light clusters that have tended to mist up in cold weather, and a highish boot sill that needs an upwards heave for loading heavy stuff. It has also had a bizarre tendency for the audio volume to occasionally and inexplicably turn itself down, unaided by any proximity to control knobs on either the dashboard or steering wheel.
Overall, though, it’s a car that has had so much more to love about it than to quibble about. Over more than a year and with 12,000 miles on the clock, it has been reliable as well as capable good company. With so many other SUVs vying for buyer attention, the Kuga could be easily overlooked, but it shouldn’t be. Living with one over the past few months on a daily basis has been a very positive experience. I’m a fan. So adios, big Ford, it’s been fun knowing you.
Date arrived 20th October 2017
Fuel economy 51.4/57.7/54.3mpg (combined) 41.9mpg (on test)
The windscreen wipers operate in an opposing motion and clean very effectively right to the edges of the screen.
The volume control seems to have a mind of its own and occasionally it inexplicably mutes and has to be turned up again.