We loved the Ford Kuga when it was introduced to the South African market, even if it was a few years behind the international introduction. It carried its age well and, because it was around six years old when it reached our market, it had the fantastic 2,5 litre ST engine that would now be too politically incorrect to put into an SUV.
That, of course, explains the model line up in the new Ford Kuga, being launched to the South African market this week. The new line up, in fact, aims to prove that SUVs can be green, according to Ford Motor Company.
NEW Engine lineup
1.6 Turbo petrol EcoBoost
The baby in the range is a 1,6 litre turbo petrol engine “EcoBoost”. It is available in two performance outputs. The lower, entry level puts out 110kW of power and produces 240Nm of torque around 1600 to 4000 r/min. Fuel efficiency is the point here – Ford claims the bottom of the range Kuga uses 6,6 litres per 100km on the combined cycle. It’s mated to a six speed manual transmission and is available in front-wheel drive only.
The all-wheel drive model with this petrol engine produces the same torque but has a slightly higher power output of 134kW. Ford claims that their off-roader will use around 7,7 litres of fuel per 100km, and it’s available with a six-speed automatic gearbox.
2.0 Turbodiesel TDCi
The bigger, 2,0 litre diesel engine has the right amount of off-road torque, producing 340Nm between 2000 and 3250 r/min. Power output is an average 120kW, but considering the Kuga’s size, that shouldn’t be a problem. Claimed fuel consumption here is a low 6,2 litres per 100km on the combined cycle, and it’s available in all-wheel drive with a six speed “PowerShift” automatic gearbox.
New tech – and what it does
A range of new technology is available on the Ford Kuga, albeit not all standard. Here’s a quick rundown of what you can expect, and what it all means:
Standard across the range is the “ECOnetic Technology” package, which is fuel efficiency orientated and includes an ECOmode, a gear shift indicator, and Active Grille Shutter. The latter is said to reduce drag and fuel consumption by opening and closing the front grille of the vehicle in order to improve aerodynamics. First released on the Ford Focus, you can watch a short video on it here.
“Curve Control” is a system that compensates when drivers enter a bend with too much speed, and mitigates understeer by “braking in a controlled manner”. It’s also capable of reducing engine torque if the driver panics and keeps their foot on the accelerator. According to Ford’s marketing manager, Gavin Golightly, “If the driver hasn’t reduced speed sufficiently this system can step in and safely slow the vehicle down by around 16 km/h per second.”
Other features include the much anticipated “Open Sesame” which allows one to open the tailgate when your hands are full. By waving your foot under the rear bumper (if you have the key on you), the tailgate opens electronically. View a video of the tailgate in action here (note that this is a commercial for the Ford Escape, sold as the Kuga locally)
Optional extras include a park assist program called “Active Park Assist“, a blind spot warning system on the side mirrors (Blind Spot Information System), Lane Keeping Aid and Lane Departure Warning (a slight vibration on the steering to alert sleepy drivers that they’re leaving their lane – when indicators aren’t on) as well as Active City Stop. The latter is a system not unique to Ford which anticipates that the driver has not seen an object (car, pedestrian, cyclist etc.) in the road, and brakes for you. The “city” refers to the low speeds at which it is active (30km/h).
In addition to the lane keeping assist program, as with most vehicles with this technology the Kuga also has ACC – adaptive cruise control which can stick to a speed of your choice while preempting traffic in your lane, thereby braking, and then speeding up once you’ve overtaken said traffic. It behaves accordingly in heavy traffic, so that you don’t have to switch CC on and off when going through a string of traffic lights.
Active Park Assist is a program increasingly popular on mid-priced vehicles, and makes uses of several sensors to park the vehicle between obstacles (other vehicles, lamp posts etc.) by taking over the steering. The driver still regulates speed by use of the accelerator and brake, but can let go of the steering wheel entirely. Click here to see more about these aids on their website.
They’re also referring to their all-wheel drive as “Intelligent All Wheel Drive“. Again, not unique to Ford, this refers to the fact that the system employs a torque vectoring system and balances torque to all four wheels every 16 milliseconds, reducing the chance of wheel slippage on sticky surfaces. There’s also an anti-roll program called Roll Stability Control which reportedly checks the Kuga’s roll motion around 150 times per second and compensates accordingly. Hill launch assist holds the Kuga for three seconds on inclines, giving you a chance to get the clutch control sorted and move off the line (typically known as hill ascent control). Trailer sway control is also available.
Airbags abound in the new Kuga, hence the four star Euro NCAP rating. At the front, the driver and passenger are protected with standard airbags, seat mounted side airbags and a driver knee airbag (an increasingly popular addition to SUVs and bakkies). Side curtain airbags protect both front and rear passengers as well. With seven airbags in total the Kuga also has ISOFIX attachments in the rear, ABS, EBD, Emergency Brake Assist and a stability control program (ESP).
Within the two engines, two drivetrains and three derivatives there are six models. Specification packages include the Ambiente, Trend and Titanium, as per Ford’s usual spec levels.
The Ambiente trim has features like electronic, heated side mirrors, fog lamps at the front and rear of the vehicle, auto start-stop on the front-wheel drive models, keyless start, the ECOnetic package (see above), and an entertainment system with Bluetooth and hands-free control. It comes with 17″ alloys and has standard cruise control and audio satellite controls on the steering wheel.
The Trend trim has all of the above, and gains auto folding mirrors, puddle lamps, rear park sensors, leather seats, a Sony audio system with nine speakers and dual electronic temperate control
Titanium models, the top trim, have 18″ alloys, Bi-Xenon headlamps that auto-level, static cornerning lights, daytime running lights, rear LED lamps, rain sensing wipers, roll stability- and curve- control (see above), keyless entry and the Open Sesame tailgate feature (see above).
Features not mentioned here are available at additional cost as part of the Titanium Optional Pack (Active City Stop, Light Detection and Ranging, ACC, Park Assist etc.) At launch, this costs R35 000.
1.6 EcoBoost Ambiente FWD R289 900
1.6 EcoBoost Trend FWD R324 900
1.6 EcoBoost Trend Auto AWD R364 900
1.6 EcoBoost Titanium Auto AWD R398 900
2.0 TDCi Trend Powershift AWD R384 900
2.0 TDCI Titanium Powershift AWD R418 900
Titanium Option Pack: R35 000
Service Plan: Four year/80 000km on all models except the 2.0 TDCi Titanium (Five year/90 000km)
Service Intervals: Petrol: 20 000km; Diesel: 15 000km
Roadside Assistance: Three year/unlimited km
Corrosion Warranty: Five year/Unlimited km