Making a smooth crossover into Kuga town
The new Ford Kuga is a relatively affordable crossover SUV that boasts the sort of technology once reserved for flagship luxury models
Ford Kuga 2.0 140bhp TDI
Model:Kuga 2.0 140bhp TDI
Fuel:Petrol and diesel
Date Reviewed:May 23, 2013
ROAD TEST: There was a time when car launches were more about wrenches than wifi, when phrases such as torque steer and the coefficiency of drag were spun through the air like confetti. But in the space of three years the lexicon has changed to “syncing” and “apps”. The combustion-engined auto has collided head-on with the tech world.
Take the new Ford Kuga, a mid-range, relatively affordable crossover SUV that boasts the sort of technology once reserved for flagship luxury models. Before we get lost in the world of wifi, let’s deal with some of the established motoring fundamentals.
The Kuga feels like a premium car to drive. From the smooth transmission to the ease of power, this is not merely the blue oval’s answer to the crossover segment – it’s a statement that the brand is serous about improving its image.
Despite it being a new model, you’d be forgiven for struggling to spot the differences between this and the outgoing version. It’s a smart, rugged look, surprisingly similar to the crossover models from Hyundai these days – and it works.
The engine range starts with a 1.6-litre 150bhp version with emissions of 154g/km in front-wheel drive and a 182bhp all-wheel drive version with emissions of 179g/km. The diesel offerings are powered by a 2-litre diesel with 140bhp with emissions of 139g/km and a 163bhp version with 154g/km.
The test car was the 140bhp diesel, and it delivered with aplomb, thanks to its smooth six-speed transmission. It was the first time in quite a while that I found a crossover I would actually opt for over a regular family saloon.
It also hosted a catalogue of new technology that showcases just how far the modern new car has come in the last three to four years. Keyless entry means you can leave your key in the pocket and once you pull the driver’s door handle the car unlocks. Once you touch the start button the car kicks to life, while your smartphone connects and the stereo starts to play whatever you were listening to on the phone.
Take to the road and engaging cruise control means you can maintain a set speed – but the car will brake if vehicles ahead are going slower than the set speed.
The front radar scans the road ahead, bouncing its signal off anything in front and detecting if a collision is imminent. Twice during our test taxis suddenly pulled up in front of us. In both cases the central console lights up and an alert sounds. It’s enough to make you react and prevent a collision.
Similarly, the system can detect pedestrians and will brake the car automatically to prevent a collision at low speeds, or at least limit the damage.
And if you are involved in a crash, Ford’s new Sync with emergency assistance kicks in. Upon detecting that an airbag has been deployed or the emergency fuel cut-off has been engaged, the system uses the on-board GPS locator and your Bluetooth-enabled phone to automatically set up an emergency call and provide GPS co-ordinates for the vehicle.