Ford resuscitates Kuga with new looks, fresh cabin – and no flames
East London. – The Ford Kuga is back in the news… but this time though, for all the right reasons. Before we get into the unveiling of the updated Kuga in South Africa, let’s address the issue that most people will associate with the model: the serious concern that it could set itself on fire.
While an acknowledged fault with the Kuga, Ford points out the problem only affected some 1 600 petrol-powered models, and that engine was discontinued in the line-up some time ago . It’s not part of the new Kuga range either.
With the problem engine deleted, heavy revisions to the styling and an upgraded interior, Ford are hoping the new Kuga will once again convince potential customers that it is a good buy.
The exterior changes are obvious: gone is the slim grille and headlight design in favour of a more muscular execution, more in line with current Ford products. The rear has undergone similar redesign, with the previous generation’s elongated taillights being truncated, for a stronger look.
The overall effect is that the Kuga now looks slightly more compact, although its dimensions remain unchanged.
The interior has had a much needed redesign. While the surfaces are largely unchanged, the functionality and ergonomics are much improved.
A new 8-inch touch screen replaces a lot of the previous model’s switchgear, making control of the interior functions easier and more intuitive. Ford’s SYNC 3 system features more natural voice commands as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Satellite navigation is optional across the range.
The engine line-up includes a 2.0 TDCi diesel and a 2.0 EcoBoost turbo petrol, both with a six-speed automatic gearbox and all wheel drive. A third drivetrain option is the 1,5-litre EcoBoost turbo petrol, with a choice of manual or automatic gearboxes, driving the front wheels only.
We drove the higher output 132kW 1,5-litre EcoBoost Auto on the Kuga launch in the Eastern Cape, which offers good power and an easy drive, although the gearbox tends to hunt for gears on inclines, mitigated somewhat by the inclusion of steering wheel-mounted shift paddles.
We were surprised by the handling, however – the front wheel drive offered good traction and the suspension easily dealt with rougher road surfaces and challenging corners well.
The best news of all though, given the gloomy economy, is the pricing, which is keener than before. – Spike Ballantine
1.5 EcoBoost Ambiente 6MT FWD R368 800
1.5 EcoBoost Ambiente 6AT FWD R381 900
1.5 EcoBoost Trend 6MT FWD R406 400
1.5 EcoBoost Trend 6AT FWD R427 900
2.0 TDCi Trend 6AT AWD R483 900
2.0 EcoBoost Titanium 6AT AWD R497 900
2.0 TDCi Titanium 6AT AWD R506 900