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The Kuga – Ford’s sporty SUV review

Ford as a company has been undergoing many changes and upgrades to stay with the pace of the ever-changing motor industry. One of the significant changes we see here in Northern Ireland is the continued growth of SUV’s which the biggest growth area in the car market is at present, writes Business First Motoring Correspondent, Ian Beasant.

Ford launched the KUGA as a sporty SUV in 2008, and it had very little competition, the market was pretty non-plussed as the KUGA never really met its sales promise.

The New Kuga looks sporty; I drove a 1.5-litre Ecoboost-engined version, the most powerful petrol-engined Kuga. The engine produces 180bhp and drives exclusively through all four wheels via a six-speed torque-converter automatic gearbox. Considering it’s an ST-Line, it promises much for the enthusiast looking at the performance figures, however, and you might be surprised. It may be the most potent variant of the range, but the added weight of the 4WD system and auto ’box means it’s beaten by several lesser models. Part of this problem is torque: the little 1.5-litre lump just can’t produce enough of the stuff low down.

As a result, you end up flogging the engine far harder than you might expect. At this point the performance is okay, but you can’t help thinking the extra muscle of the diesel is far more suitable for such a car. Being a traditional auto, it can be a little slow to shift, and the gearbox feels a little out of sync with engine, mainly because the engine has to try so hard. This also affects the economy; I averaged 25 miles per gallon over various long and short journeys. Ford reckons 29 mpg is achievable and it probably is, and that’s not great either.

The driving position is elevated as you expect with an SUV. The steering is reassuringly meaty, allowing you to accurately drive at speed without having to keep making the minor corrections imposed on you by some rivals. It also makes placing the nose of the Kuga easy, even if you’re pressing on.

You’ll also appreciate the additional resistance to roll that the ST-Line chassis brings. Turn-in is good; it feels agile changing direction. The downside is that on a broken tarmac road or bumpy surface the ride will jostle you around, which is something your passengers may not appreciate.

KUGAThe interior is spacious, and there are plenty of soft-touch materials and good quality plastics on offer, the seats proved to be comfortable on an extended drive. Rear seat space is not bad at all, and on par with SUV’ S of a similar size, you do get a reclining rear bench. As for the boot, there’s a flat floor and a decent sized boot.

The Kuga in this spec with four-wheel drive is let down by the petrol 1.5 turbo engine as the engine has to work too hard to give any performance it is very thirsty to the point of being too expensive to run. The Kuga as an SUV is fine; it’s on par with the many competitors that are on the market. I would try a two-wheel drive version with a diesel engine.

Car as tested £37,185 which included £2400.00 of extras.