COPYRIGHT : Mark Slack / Ford

Ford Kuga – a smart and smooth visual presence

With ever more new models being launched the demand for SUVs continues. However, it’s easy to forget that some of the long familiar names in SUV world have also been transformed. Ford’s Kuga has been a familiar sight since 2008, indeed before that the Kuga name (spelled Cougar) was attached to a coupe, and you see many older Kugas still looking good.

The very latest Kuga has a refreshingly smart and smooth visual presence compared to many of the overly aggressive looking newer entrants. Think of the Kuga like a grown up Ford Puma, which when I tested it had many people thinking it had stylistic echo’s of Porsche’s Cayenne. Praise indeed! Prices for the Kuga start from €37,928/£32,680 with standard equipment including auto lights, privacy glass, heated door mirrors, air conditioning, heated windscreen, keyless start, cruise control, front and rear parking sensors and four drive modes.

The two engine options are a 1.5-litre EcoBoost with 6-speed manual gearbox or, the pick of the duo in my book, a 2.5-litre petrol hybrid with CVT automatic transmission. You can have either a self-charging or plug-in hybrid with 190 PS and 225 PS respectively. In plug-in mode the Kuga will cover around 30-35 miles (in the real world) on pure electric, the full hybrid can utilise electric power automatically, such as at low speed, and assist the petrol engine to avoid using excessive combustion power.

An ST-Line X Edition was my test model and priced at €45,095/£38,855, in addition to that hybrid power it gains significantly more standard equipment such as LED lights, hands-free powered tailgate, power opening panoramic sunroof, heated front and rear seats plus steering wheel, parking camera, climate control, keyless entry and start along with subtle styling adornments including red brake calipers.

On the road the Kuga is as smooth as it flowing lines, and unless pushed hard the CVT gearbox doesn’t cause much of an audible ruffle – it is a trait of these boxes to raise the revs thereby increasing cabin noise  – and changes smoothly. For a large SUV the Kuga handles well despite its taller stance and weighty battery pack, thanks to a comfortably stiffened sports suspension and excellent steering feel.

Inside there is rather more ‘scratchy’ hard plastic than one would like, but a welcome presence of buttons and a logical layout with clear displays are big plus points. The driving ‘feel’ just adds further to the Kuga’s already appealing presence.

Facts at a Glance

Model: Ford Kuga ST-Line X Edition

Engine: 2.5-litre petrol/electric plug-in hybrid

Gears: 7-Speed CVT automatic

Performance: 0-100 kmh (62 mph) 9.2 seconds/Maximum Speed 200 kmh (125 mph)

Economy: 1.1l/100km Combined driving (WLTP)

Emissions: 25 g/km (WLTP)

Model tested was UK-specification and equipment levels and prices may vary in other markets.

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