Family Driving – Ford Kuga

The face lifted Ford Kuga is safer and roomier than the previous model and as you’d expect – a wonderful family car.

Launched back in 2008 when the SUV market was a lot, lot smaller (not every new car used to be an SUV, you know) the Kuga offered a sportier option. The original Kuga was quirky and was appealing to many in the UK and on the continent too. After just four years, instead of having a bit of new body work and rolled out as an all new model – it was completely relaunched.

Ford’s desire for all new models to be a global, so when it came for America to replace the Escape, they looked at the first generation Kuga and thought ‘that will do’. Then along came the second generation Kuga, more bloated and far less edgy. Now, the second generation has had a facelift and some new tech installed to bring it up to date.

Here then, is a Ford Kuga which is more suited to a family and more likely a young family with their very attractive entry level prices and the clout carried by the Ford badge meaning servicing will be reasonable and they will be reliable, too.

Being a whopping 81mm longer, it offers more leg and head room and also boot space, all from 81mm, those engineers are capable to do magic with small numbers. It also moves it’s self in to a more competitive market crowded by the Nissan Qashqai, Mazda CX-5 and Skoda Kodiaq, and into the headlights of the Kia Sorento and Hyundai’s Santa Fe.

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Driving

The Kuga drives well, thanks to being pinned the same European platform as the Ford Focus, a new four-wheel-drive system (having ditched Haldex) and the same torque vectoring system (the clever tech that brakes a spinning inside wheel to shove drive to an outer one to improve grip) from the Focus RS. Basically, it’s drift mode but working the other way, stopping the car from drifting instead of encouraging it to do so.

First off, you have to pick one of six engines in the range. Three petrols and three diesels. Falling in line with the trend to downsize engines but gaining efficiency the 1.6 Ecoboost has changed to a 1.5. It comes in three power ranges; 120bhp, 150bhp or 182bhp. If you want a diesel, a 2.0 offers a similar range of power outputs to the petrol, but more torque – up to 295lb ft in top spec.

Drive can be spread over two wheels or four either with a manual ‘box or a dual clutch auto. Having had the 150bhp diesel for a week, it was a solid engine. Bit of a tractor tone to it but delivery of power was fine and smooth.

It also copes with the roads well, it’s by no means agile and the bigger size isn’t overly noticeable. The first gen Kuga was loved for it’s added sportiness but that has sadly gone away in the relaunched model and for the facelift, suspension was left unchanged.

On the inside

There was plenty of room in the back for two kiddy seats, fitting someone between them though would have been a struggle – equally there wasn’t room for three child seats, either. In the boot there is room for your pram and all the stuff needed for the kids but you’d struggle to pack the weekly shop in there, too. It’s big but not quite that big.

The cockpit feels comfortable and familiar, the double sunroof offers up plenty of light and the materials inside feel very Ford. Not too flashy and equally not too cheap a nice middle of the road.

Buying

There’s plenty of options to choose from in trim and engines, kicking off the bottom of the range Zetec and moving past the Titanium and firmer suspension and sportier trim of the ST-Line comes the seven grand more expensive Vignale. Fords highest level of trim which get’s all the kit and tech bit a top end price. For the same price you might want to look around at the Kuga’s competitors and see what you can get for your money there.

It’s All Wheel Drive system will guide you through adverse weather conditions – if you want something which is more capable over rugged terrain, then you would have to go for something more utilitarian that the Kuga.

The spread of engine and trims means that there’s something for everyone across a wide price range, but be wary as it can get expensive quickly.

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