Ford has given its Kuga crossover model a significant update, with new styling, engine changes, enhanced active safety systems and an upgraded infotainment unit among the major changes.
The new Kuga is not a brand new vehicle, so retains the dimensions and structure of the existing model, which has been on sale since 2012. But Ford has given each aspect of the car a thorough going-over to keep the Kuga competitive against the likes of the new Volkswagen Tiguan, Renault Kadjar, Skoda Kodiaq and an ever-increasing number of rivals in the booming small SUV sector.
A fresher look, inside and out
Exterior styling has been brought up to date and into line with the rest of the Ford SUV family. A new grille and new headlamps with LED daytime running lights make a noticeable difference, while tail lights and alloy wheels have also been redesigned. Two new colours (Copper Pulse and Guard Grey) have also been added to the palette.
The interior has also been tidied up, although the Kuga still lacks the clean dashboard layout of many of its rivals. There are now fewer and more easily-distinguished buttons and switches to make knob-twiddling easier on the move. Moving to an electronic parking brake has also freed up some centre console space for more storage and a new USB socket.
Ford’s latest SYNC 3 infotainment unit is now available, which brings significant improvements to voice recognition and overall system performance. Ford claims you will be able to tell the car “I need a coffee” or “I need petrol” and it will be able to bring up the nearest café or petrol station in the navigation system. The eight-inch touchscreen now also allows swiping and pinching gestures.
Safety gets an upgrade
Active safety systems also get a boost, with assisted parking systems for both parallel and perpendicular parking and a cross traffic alert for reversing out of a parking space. The new Kuga also gets an improved version of Ford’s autonomous emergency braking system, which now operates at up to 31mph instead of the old model’s 19mph.
The previous model Kuga scored a five-star rating in the 2012 Euro NCAP crash tests, although standards have improved since then and is no guarantee the new Kuga will score five stars if and when it is put through the latest tests.
The variable all-wheel drive system fitted to top-level models uses electronic controls to direct or restrict drive to each wheel, including curve control and torque vectoring to maintain traction and stability.
Parental control for car keys
The owner can also programme a key to inhibit incoming phone calls, restrict top speed, prevent disabling the car’s safety systems, reduce audio system volume and even disable the stereo altogether if occupants are not wearing seat belts. It is marketed at parents concerned about letting their offspring drive the car, and shows how connected onboard systems can dictate how the vehicle functions.
The new Kuga has ditched the old 2.0-litre 120hp diesel in favour of a new 1.5-litre engine with the same power output – but with improved fuel consumption and emissions (at least in the lab). The 120hp and 150hp petrol and diesel models are front-wheel drive only, while the 2.0-litre 180hp diesel and 1.5-litre 182hp petrol models are all-wheel drive.
New Kuga ST-Line and Kuga Vignale specifications
As well as the above model updates, Ford is adding new ST-Line and Vignale specifications to the range. ST-Line models will have a sporty emphasis, with ‘optimised’ (stiffer) suspension and unique styling elements. Luxury-spec Vignale models will feature even more styling differentiation, quilted Windsor leather and prominent stitching, along with a unique pearlescent grey paint option.
The updated Kuga range is on sale now, with first cars expected to arrive before Christmas.