Ford’s compact SUV arrived in South Africa last year to mixed reactions. Putting a positive spin on it, at last Ford had a local contender. On the minus side, we had to wait so long that, by the time it arrived, the new model had already been launched overseas.
But negative perceptions aside, the original Kuga was nevertheless a stylish, well packaged and dynamic example of the genre. Its successor takes that several steps further with more convenience and technology as well as significantly better economy.
There are two engines – a 1,6-litre EcoBoost petrol with 6-speed SelectShift automatic transmission and a 2,0-litre
turbodiesel with PowerShift automatic. Whatever the option, Ford says that the recipe is the same: ample power, a generous spread of torque for drivability and an improvement in fuel-efficiency. The company’s aim is to develop advanced, high-output, smaller-displacement powertrains; it holds more than 125 patents on the engine technology implemented in its EcoBoost engines, which feature turbocharging, direct injection and twin independent camshaft variable timing (Ti-VCT).
The Kuga’s “smart” AWD system, according to Ford, “pre-emptively reassesses road conditions 20 times faster than it takes to blink an eye”. Interior features include Ford’s voice-activated in-car SYNC connectivity system, available as standard.
Optional safety tech includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind Spot Information System, Lane Keeping Aid and Active City Stop (which automatically brakes the car if it senses an imminent rear-ender under 30 km/h).
In the convenience area, Active Park Assist will be available as options on certain models. And, for the first time in South Africa on a Ford product a hands-free automatic tailgate is offered. If your arms are occupied with parcels, simply sweep a foot under the rear bumper to open. Naturally, you have to be carrying the car remote control for this to work. The Kuga will be launched later in 2013.
Smoothing the flow. The new Kuga cuts through the air almost 10 per cent more efficiently than its predecessor. A significant part of that is its Active Grille Shutter. When extra engine cooling air is required, such as low-speed stop-and-go driving, the grille slats stay open. At steady-state highway speeds, with less extreme cooling required, the grille slats close automatically to smooth out the airflow.