Its been a bit of a waiting game for the launch of the new Kuga, due in large part to the fires that were starting in the engine compartment of the Kuga from 2012/2014. This issue has been dealt with by having a call back in massive proportions, which must have been a logistical marvel to pull off by Ford SA
The new Kuga has been in dealerships for a while, and has been used as a marketing tool to appease customers in the 2nd phase, by allowing them to drive it when the cars were back in the workshop.
The Ford line-up of SUV’S is well balanced with the segment leading Eco-Sport, the Everest in the premium segment, and of course the Kuga in the mid segment. It is a hotly contested area, and Ford have done themselves no favours by having this issue. A name change was mooted by journalists at the launch, and an explanation about cost etc was put forward. Not sure on the thinking about that, as my opinion is to get as far away from the Kuga name as possible. It is really a good car, and shouldn’t have to saddled with the baggage of the past year or so.
The new Kuga has new headlamps, complemented by new fog-lamps as well. The rear has also got new light clusters, and a new tailgate design to give it a more finished look. New alloys ranging from 17-19 inch give the car an athletic look. Its always been a good looking vehicle but it now is a bit of a head turner.
Into the Cabin.
The inside is comfortable and spacious, with many storage places and soft touch points. The steering wheel has all the controls needed to make the Kuga run efficiently. It has paddles on the auto models to allow easy gear change and have the car in the optimum rev range. It has loads of luggage space, with 1603 L when the fold down option is used in the back seats. A hands-free power tail-gate is always handy. ISOFIX anchor points for families with children.
Some of the features include, an electronic parking brake, improved storage in the centre console, as well as rear tray tables and rear air vents on the Trend and Titanium models. The new Kuga will allow drivers to control audio functions plus connected smartphones using simple, more conversational voice commands, with Ford’s new SYNC®3 connectivity system, which is standard on the Trend and Titanium derivatives.
SYNC®3 with Navigation is optional across the Kuga range, featuring embedded navigation which provides a full 3D experience with elevated map view, enhanced full colour graphics and point of interest (POI) building images. When driving, the navigation map displays a raft of information, including the next manoeuvre; current speed limit; current GPS speed; and a choice of estimated time of arrival, time to reach destination, or distance to destination; plus highway services information such as rest stops and garages.
Kuga drivers can operate the SYNC®3 8-inch touchscreen in the same way that they use their smartphones. A new interface features larger, easier to operate buttons and enables pinch and swipe gestures for the first time. AppleCarplay and Android systems can be operated.
Safety is a key point of the new Kuga for obvious reasons and includes-a total of seven airbags – including a driver’s knee airbag – as well as ABS brakes with Electronic Stability Programme (ESP), Trailer Stability function, Hill Launch Assist and Rollover Mitigation.
The new Kuga now offers Perpendicular Parking functionality, in addition to the semi-autonomous Active Park Assist technology. Using additional ultrasonic sensors, Perpendicular Parking at the push of a button enables drivers to locate parking spaces alongside other cars as well as parallel to the road, and steers the vehicle into them while the driver controls the accelerator and brake.
The Kuga offers a few outputs on its three engine variants, the 1.5-litre EcoBoost engine offers, a unit with 110kW and 240Nm of torque in the front-wheel drive six-speed manual derivative.
A 132kW version of the 1.5 EcoBoost engine is provided on the models equipped with the six-speed automatic transmission – available in front-wheel drive guise.
The petrol engine line-up is topped by the powerful 2.0 EcoBoost, which produces 177kW and 340Nm, and is available exclusively with all-wheel drive and the six-speed torque-converter automatic.
For diesel fans, the impressive 2.0 TDCi turbodiesel engine remains, producing 132kW and a substantial 400Nm torque peak. Power is delivered to all four wheels through the responsive PowerShift dual-clutch automatic transmission. My favourite was the diesel 2.0, as I did not have the opportunity to drive the 2.0 petrol version.
Ford Kuga 1.5 EcoBoost Ambiente 6MT FWD R368 800
Ford Kuga 1.5 EcoBoost Ambiente 6AT FWD R381 900
Ford Kuga 1.5 EcoBoost Trend 6MT FWD R406 400
Ford Kuga 1.5 EcoBoost Trend 6AT FWD R427 900
Ford Kuga 2.0 TDCi Trend 6AT AWD R483 900
Ford Kuga 2.0 EcoBoost Titanium 6AT AWD R497 900
Ford Kuga 2.0 TDCi Titanium 6AT AWD R506 900
All models come standard with Ford Protect, including a four-year/120 000km comprehensive warranty, three-year/unlimited distance roadside assistance and five-year/unlimited km corrosion warranty. A five-year/90 000km service plan is included on the TDCi models, with 15 000km service intervals. The petrol Kuga models have 20 000km service intervals, and are sold with a four-year/80 000km service plan.
The Kuga is a good offering in the hotly contested SUV market. It really is a complete package, it drives very well, is powerful and spacious, goes off the beaten track if necessary, and is good looking. Time will tell whether the market will forgive Ford SA for a number of cars burning though.