Ford seems to have tried making a premium SUV, but gave up half way in and threw in a load of plastics and cheap technologies to get it finished. Of course, it looks good and should be reliable, after all, it is a Ford.
The MK2 Kuga is a vast improvement on the old, it has sharp styling and from the outside has a very strong whiff of a premium brand. The model tested was a Titanium X Sport with the 2.0 TDCi 180ps manual with AWD. Now, in this trim the car looks brilliant, we had ours in Deep Impact Blue and it was gorgeous. The big 19″ alloys, silver trim and roof rails made it look like it came from the class above. The bodywork is curvaceous yet sharp and looks very sporty. However, you only get this look on the Titanium Sport or higher, anything less and you get cheap black plastic trim all around the outside. That is where Ford has made a mistake.
Our test car was fitted with the very comfortable leather seats, well, more like armchairs. Heated as well non the less. The rear seats were also just as comfortable with plenty of leg room and the option to recline the seats. This is more or less where the positives for the inside end. The infotainment system is appalling and looks like it was designed to be used by babies. It is slow, dim-witted and clunky with hard to reach buttons and a poor layout. What can I expect, Ford have never done very well with infotainment. Look at the current Fiesta, nearly 9 years into production and they have barely changed the inside once.
What makes this even more shocking is this is a whole new infotainment system, only in cars from April 2016 onwards.
The problems continue. On a car this size and shape you would expect to have a massive and fully usable interior, after all it is a Sports Utility Vehicle. The rear seats don’t even lay completely flat. One of my biggest bbugbears Nothing ruins the back for me more than on a car with tall and wide with so much potential, to be hampered by a step in the load area. The little things. My other issue is more of a suggestion. Under the two front seats we have on offer a very large space, could it not be an option to have under seat storage? It will be great to hide valuables in. Although the glove box is big, it can get filled up quickly with the manual, CDs and in my case, my change pot.
Apart from those niggles and issues with the inside, it is a pleasant place for a long journey. The electric sunroof is a nice touch, it brings in a lot of light into the cabin, although it sits rather annoyingly in the center of the roof with over half a foot gap on both sides. It doesn’t sound like much but when you want to look out the roof from the rear seats you have to strain over to one side. I won’t get too bogged down with the negatives, because at the end of the day the ride is smooth, the seats are comfy, it is quiet and the air-conditioning works sublimely. Everything you need for a cruise down the motorway in the summer sun.
So we have established the outside looks great and the inside needs improving, now it is time for an under the bonnet critique. The engine in this car, a 2.0 180bhp diesel works well.
First gear is almost non-existent and proves to be no use, I often took to moving away in 2nd gear as it got off quicker. Apart from 1st, the rest of the gears are lovely and the transmission is smooth and the gear lever feels connected. The AWD system is a useful, but fuel consuming, bit of extra safety and reassurance.
For a Ford it coped very well with a bit of light off roading. The suspension is also very good at soaking up bumps, not to mention you can really chuck it at the corners. I was surprised at how smooth the ride was, considering we were riding on 19″ alloys.
The safety kit is also useful, if not a little unsettling and confusing. It was not until after contacting Ford about the City Stop active breaking that we found out it doesn’t work for people…
The lane keeping assist works and isn’t too intrusive. Some cars have been known to pull you back over, whereas the Kuga goes for a more “vibrate the steering wheel so violently you lose blood flow in your hands” approach. I also got to test out for the first time park assist. It is a very useful bit of kit, if not a little weird to get used to. Even in the pitch black at 11pm at night I didn’t hit anything.
Overall it is a good car, nothing to rave about, but I wouldn’t tell anyone not to get one. There are similar cars available which I would suggest, the Mazda CX-5 and Hyundai Tuscan to name two. If you are looking for similar sized cars but with a different budget in mind, the Dacia Duster is a phenomenal car for your money, whereas the BMW X1 gives you a lot more class for your cash.
Car – Ford Kuga Titanium X Sport 2.0 TDCi 180 AWD Manual
Price – £36,115 (as tested)
MPG – 54.3mpg (combined)
Power – 177bhp
0-62mph – 9.2 seconds
Top Speed – 126 mph
Co2 – 135 (g/km)
Find out more at http://www.ford.com/