Though many manufacturers are rushing to get their own SUVs into market in response to increasing demand from consumers, Ford was somewhat ahead of the trend and this – the Ford Kuga – is actually now in its second generation. However, can a raft of new features and design tweaks help it against the new kids on the block? Let’s take a look.
You can certainly see the American design influence with the Kuga. It’s all sharp, angular and pretty in-your-face. Our ST-Line test vehicle benefits from larger alloys too and, when these are combined with the white metallic paint and contrast black elements, give the car a fair amount of presence on the road.
Now as we mentioned, our test car is finished in ST-Line and, thanks to being just three steps short of the top specification, its gets pretty much all the bells and whistles you could want. You get plenty of buttons to press, both front seats are heated and there’s this eight-inch central touchscreen which uses Ford’s SYNC3 system, too. It’s not that bad, but lacks the clarity we’ve come to expect, and can be a little dim-witted at times.
The Ford Kuga’s boot space is pretty decent. You’ve got 406 litres to play with when the seats are raised, rising to 1,603 when the seats are folded flat.
Now the Kuga, and particularly this ST Line car, sits on the sportier end of the SUV spectrum. There is a small amount of body roll, though no more than you’d expect from a car of this type, and because of the larger alloy wheels there is a fair amount of road noise which does intrude into the cabin.
What have we got to play with though? Underneath the bonnet is a 1.5-litre turbocharged diesel engine and it’s linked to the front wheels via an automatic gearbox. Yes, that means if you want four-wheel-drive to match the car’s chunky looks then you’ll have to upgrade to the 2.0-litre engine.
Ford claims that the Kuga will hit 60mph in around 12 seconds, and in truth it feels a little punchier than those figures would lead to believe. Ford also claims that the Kuga should return just shy of 60mpg, and we’ve been returning a lot lower than that. In mixed driving, we’ve been getting around 45mpg.
One thing the Kuga does exhbit is a slightly elastic steering feel, and that means that it feels ever so slightly too eager to self-centre. You do get used to it, however, and it soon becomes part of the general flow of the car.
One thing that is crucial in the SUV segment and one of the main reasons why people are flocking to those type of cars is a high riding position which gives you a commanding view of the road ahead. In that sense the Kuga has the box well and firmly ticked, you can really see far ahead of you.
Despite a range of options in the currently flourishing SUV market, the updates applied to this Kuga mean that it has stayed competitive. It’s good to drive, good to look at and is well specified inside. In short, if you’re after a compact yet spacious SUV, the Kuga is well worth considering.