Next up in our line-up of cars from the important crossover segment is the Ford Kuga
Ford kuga review
What is it?
The Ford Kuga is based on Ford’s C1 platform which also underpins the Focus and C-Max. Built at Ford’s Saarlouis plant in Germany, the Kuga first went on sale in 2008 and is offered to the market with only Zetec or Titanium trim levels. By all accounts it was originally going to be called the X-Max but Ford executives wanted a “proper” name so went for the rather confusing “kuga”. Confusing? Yes because Ford sold a strange looking sports coupe called the Cougar back in the nineties. You may not remember it as it wasn’t particularly successful but If I were to ask someone at a party what car they drove (yes it is a boring party) they might say Kuga and I might say “oh really, oh dear” and they might say no kuga and I might say….well I think you can see where this is going. Name aside it’s a heavyweight in the crossover segment and prices start at £21,505 for the 2.00 TDCi 140bhp Zetec 2WD up to £26,335 for the 2.5 Titanium 4WD. The model we tested was the 2.0 TDCi Titanium 2WD at £23,505.
Well, first impressions are probably superfluous in this case. It’s a Ford so we all know what to expect. A good looking soft-roader, very well put together but not for you if standing out from the crowd is your number one priority (try the Mitsubishi ASX in that case) as you will obviously see plenty of others on the road. We were delivered our test Kuga not by Ford themselves but, for the sake of logistics, the previous road-tester who hadn’t, how can I put this, bothered to clean it and, believe me it needed cleaning. There I’ve said it. Now as far as I know the previous tester (no I won’t name them) had “enjoyed” it for a while and I know this because the handy little fold-up trays in the back were a sticky horrible mess. Not really a problem but as this is the “first impression” bit I thought I’d mention it. Anyway after a quick trip to the local car valeters (they’re from Kosovo don’t you know) and finding myself twenty quid lighter (Ford have the receipt) the kuga was looking spic and span again. And that’s good because this was the Titanium version with skin, dual zone climate control, sat-nav, panoramic sun roof, rear-view camera, automatic lights, rain sensing wipers, cruise control (the list really does go on and on) so it looked lovely and on the short drive back to the Kosovans it was a lovely drive too (on the way there I was too worried about being stuck to the seat to really enjoy it).
What’s it like, then?
The term “Crossover” was coined to describe a vehicle built on a car platform but with the lofty seating position, liberal ground clearance and four wheel drive capability of an SUV (or just plain 2WD in a lot of cases and in this one). A good crossover should feel like a saloon car to drive with secure handling and smooth ride and the Kuga ticks all the proverbial boxes. As I said it’s lovely to drive, handles superbly and is a premium product in every aspect. The popular 2.0 TDCi engine is smooth, quiet and has plenty of pulling power. There is a fair amount of wind noise at higher speeds but it wasn’t too oppressive (not sure whether that would still be the case if you had to do a lot of motorway miles every day however). Stability control is standard on the 2WD so unless you are serious about off-roading (in which case why buy a Ford?) can’t see why anyone would want the 4WD versions and, by all accounts, it’s not as good. As I’ve said the Kuga is very well put together and the quality of the materials used is obvious (of course we wouldn’t expect anything less form Ford) and the mechanicals have demonstrated an excellent track record (in the 2011 JD Power survey the Kuga was listed as the best performing Ford). Rear leg room is a bit limited (obviously a problem if you’re a taller member of society) and the boot is actually smaller than the Focus but the tailgate makes loading a lot easier
Should I buy one?
There is no doubt about the Kuga’s credentials. It’s a great car but all that greatness comes at a price and the Kuga is not cheap (in every sense of the word). I enjoyed the Kuga for a week and once it was clean I had a great time in it. It’s reasonably practical, roomy, great to drive (did I say that already?) and the wife and kids loved it. Now if only we could get over the stumbling block of the price. Would I buy one? Is probably a more pertinent question and yes I would if it was a bit cheaper. The Kuga is not a car that is going to let you down and you do get a lot of car for the money as they say so I would be sorely tempted to buy one in the right circumstances but, three cars in, the Mitsubishi, with its 15mpg advantage (imagine how much that could amount to over the year?), is still winning in the great Crossover handicap chase but only by a short head. Service intervals for the TDCi Kuga are a fairly standard 12,500 miles and residuals should be strong.
Test car data:
Model tested: Ford Kuga 2.0 TD TDCi Titanium 5dr 2WD (140bhp) 5 Door Compact Crossover SUV
Price: £23,505 OTR
Engine: 2.0-litre, Turbodiesel, 140bhp
Transmission: Six speed manual gearbox
CO2: 156 g/km
Performance: 116mph, 0-62mph 9.8 seconds, 47.9mpg (extra-urban) (42.9mpg actual),
VED Band G £159
Insurance group: 21
For: Looks, handling, build quality
Against: Price, load space.