The new Ford Kuga is the re-invention of the first generation Kuga / Escape, the brand’s current contender in the softroader market. The new model offers more space, control, handling – and plenty more gadgets. And almost everything is automated! The new hands-free power tailgate makes loading and unloading easier, a gentle swiping motion with your foot under the centre of the rear bumper opens and closes the tailgate if you have the key fob in your possession. The tailgate height can be programmed or adjusted manually to meet specific customer needs, such as the height of your garage, or your reach.
The interior is finished off with a leather trim, and contrast stitching on the seats. The back seats come with a 40/60 split to optimise packing space, and fold flat at the touch of a button. Another feature is the two-position load floor: you can configure it for maximum packing space, or choose a flat floor for loading convenience. In the cabin you’ll find hidden storage bins, a USB port, eight cup-holders, a 230 V inverter, and SYNC – a system which allows you to use your phone and music player hands-free.
The new Kuga is offered with two engine variants: the 1.6-litre EcoBoost petrol motor, or the 2.0-litre TDCi diesel unit. The 1.6 EcoBoost puts out 134 kW @ 5 700 rpm and 240 Nm @ 1 600 – 4 000 rpm. The bigger 2.0 TDCi diesel is good for 120 kW @ 3 750 rpm and 340 Nm @ 2 000 – 3 250 rpm. The EcoBoost is paired with 6-Speed Select Shift; this uses a combination of Auto-Clutch and Shift-By-Wire electronic control-system technology to provide significant fuel economy improvement compared to a base manual transmission. The Select Shift Manual mode, like a conventional manual transmission, allows the driver to command gear changes according to personal preference.
The TDCi diesel engine has a 6-speed Power Shift with Select Shift. It comes with a dual clutch semi-automatic gearbox which delivers both performance and fuel economy: it improves fuel efficiency by as much as 10 percent when compared to a conventional automatic transmission. Dual-clutch technology gives you the responsiveness of a manual with the ease of an automatic.
The Ford-developed AWD software measures conditions every 16 milliseconds, providing a precise blend of handling and traction. The system pre-emptively splits up to 100 percent of the torque produced by the powertrain between the front and rear axles.
Furthermore, Torque Vectoring Control and Curve Control are available together, for the first time in an SUV. A computer uses inputs from an array of sensors and data – such as lateral acceleration, driver-demanded torque and steering angle – and processes that information to get the vehicle to turn in the direction the driver wants it to go. The Ford system builds on the pre-emptive actions by adding and subtracting torque, as needed, through an electromagnetic clutch. The onboard computer even allows the driver to see the power distribution, displayed on a screen inside the dash. The AWD system ‘thinks’ fast to improve handling, thus giving drivers more control.
Perfect for towing, the Trailer Sway Control helps to keep both your Kuga and your trailer on the same path. It determines that the trailer is swaying and applies braking or reduces engine torque where needed, to help keep everything under control. The Kuga is built for added ease even on hills: the Hill Launch Assist holds the brake for up to three seconds after you take your foot off, giving you time to accelerate smoothly...
The new Adaptive Cruise Control or ASLD (adjustable speed limiting device) allows the Kuga to adapt its speed in traffic. If it senses traffic is slowing, it slows, and when the traffic clears, it goes back to your pre-set speed. At speeds of less than 30 kph, Active City Stop detects if the car in front has unexpectedly stopped and automatically applies the brakes.
BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) is an indicator light in the side mirror that lets you know (when you’re changing lanes) that there’s a vehicle in your blind spot. If you’re drifting into the next lane, the Lane Keeping Aid will vibrate the steering wheel to alert you, and steering torque will automatically direct your vehicle back into your lane.
The Active Park Assist feature helps you to find a parking place big enough for your vehicle, and then it virtually parallel parks itself. Put the car into gear, take your hands off the wheel and watch it steer itself into the parking spot. All you have to do is work the accelerator and brake.
These last three items mentioned (and others) are bundled with the Titanium Option Pack, a R35k option. Ford Protect provides an extendedwarranty plan that covers mechanical failure repairs after the new-vehicle warranty has expired, for up to 6 years or 200 000 kilometres from original date of purchase.
To read this article in full, buy this issue from selected stores or you can also subscribe here.