Mark Tisshaw
16 February 2013

What is it?

Our first steer in the all-new Ford Kuga on UK roads. The new Kuga has grown bigger for its second-generation, adding increased practicality, quality, equipment levels and refinement in the process, according to the Blue Oval.

The increase in size is also due to it now being twinned with the US-market Ford Escape, a place where bigger nearly always mean better for buyers. But just because it can trace its roots across the Atlantic, don’t expect the new Kuga to be softly set-up and brash to look at; the new Kuga is very much a car for the European market, with bespoke chassis tuning and styling revisions.

Four engines are offered: 138bhp and 161bhp 2.0 diesels and 148bhp and 178bhp 1.6-litre petrols. It’s the more potent diesel we’re testing here, complete with Ford’s new Intelligent All-Wheel Drive system and a six-speed dual-clutch automatic Powershift gearbox.

What is it like?

A different proposition to the Kuga we knew before. Whereas the first-generation model’s more compact dimensions led to a very car-like drive, the new Kuga’s increase in size pushes it firmly into mid-size SUV territory alongside the likes of the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 and away from the Nissan Qashqai, with altered driving characteristics as a result.

Despite the increase in size, the Kuga is still billed as the driver’s SUV. It’s a very stiff car, one that you can handle and steer in a way that almost belies its size from the commanding driving position.

It’s not quite as agile or light on its feet as the old Kuga, but, thanks to the effectiveness of the all-wheel drive system, retains poise and a willingness to be pushed few, if any, others in the class can match.

That stiffness does result in a fairly firm ride, particularly at low speeds. It’s never harsh or noisy, but it’s certainly not the easy-going comfort you might expect of a car of this size.

The engine/gearbox combination is another high point. The diesel engine is torquey and the gearbox holds back on upshifts to allow it be revved and the performance to be exploited. It’s also an extremely refined unit, and the gearbox offers smooth and seamless shifts without the hesitancy some dual-clutch transmissions suffer from.

What the increased size does bring is plenty more space. The boot is now up to 456 litres in capacity and rear passengers are also much better off for space, with an 82mm increase in length bringing noticeably more legroom.

The front of the cabin is also a pleasant environment. Quality is good, and the controls all nicely weighted. It’s just a shame that there’s such a bewildering array of buttons in all sorts of places; some sort of simplified central control system is needed here.

Should I buy one?

In making the Kuga bigger and shifting its positioning, Ford has still managed to keep hold of the car’s trump card: how good it is to drive.

That you also get a higher quality product with improved equipment levels thrown in for a price that works out around £1000 less than an equivalent previous generation Kuga, then there’s little to stop this going straight to the top of the class.

Ford Kuga Titanium 2.0 TDCi 163 Powershift

Price: £27,045; 0-62mph: 10.4sec; Top speed: 122mph; Economy: 45.6mpg (combined); CO2: 162g/km; Kerb weight: 1707kg; Engine: 4cyls, 1997cc, turbodiesel; Power: 161bhp at 3750rpm; Torque: 251lb ft at 2000-3250rpm; Gearbox: 6spd dual-clutch auto’

Join the debate

Comments
19

Props to Ford for listening

1 year 27 weeks ago

Props to Ford for listening to the criticism of the previous Kuga and applying it to the new model. It seems like a no brainer yet plenty of brands seem incapable of so doing. 

That said, I can't help but feel that the current crop of Ford designs are going to age awfully quickly, the new Kuga included. The new Focus looks a lot older than its 3 years, whilst the previous Kuga is going to look a lot better in 10 years than this one. I think Ford has fallen head-first into the trap of overstyling their cars.

Straight to the top of the class?

1 year 27 weeks ago

I know Autocar can't seem to get enough of anything with a Ford badge, but this thing looks seriously ungainly and fat on the outside and a mess inside. And that's not to mention the firm that the writer admitted to.

Top of the class? Not for me.

You must be kidding! Best bit

1 year 27 weeks ago

You must be kidding! Best bit of the old Kuga was the styling, this looks even duller than a Tiguan, the interior is horrid, wait until all that glossy plastic around the controls get scratched and hazy. The seat bases look thin yet they couldn't even get the boot right, look how with the rear seats folded down there is a huge step in the boot, you won't be sliding much in there easily! Pathetic 'can't be bothered' designing all round.

Same old story...

1 year 27 weeks ago

Top of the class?? Which class? 

If european Fords were THAT good (as Autocar always reminds us), how come that they lose so much money in this continent? Why don't they get 100% of market share? 

Drive one, and you'll know why. They're crap. As simple as that. Have driven so many, and never understood why Autocar rates them so highly. 

Haha

1 year 27 weeks ago

You sir, clearly dont know what you are talking about.

 

And Autocar is hardly the only magazine who rates Fords....

jer

I like it

1 year 27 weeks ago

But wondering where the 200ps motor is or the 250ps petrol with power shift.

You're kidding??

1 year 27 weeks ago

Overdrive wrote:

I know Autocar can't seem to get enough of anything with a Ford badge,....

It was over nearly 40 car reviews ago since the last review of a Ford car and bear in mind they have the top 2 selling cars you couldn't be more wrong. 

If you said either VW, BMW and Porcshe which always seem to be in the news and reviews then you might just might  have a case

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

Err...

1 year 27 weeks ago

xxxx wrote:

Overdrive wrote:

I know Autocar can't seem to get enough of anything with a Ford badge,....

It was over nearly 40 car reviews ago since the last review of a Ford car and bear in mind they have the top 2 selling cars you couldn't be more wrong. 

If you said either VW, BMW and Porcshe which always seem to be in the news and reviews then you might just might  have a case

I wasn't talking about the number of car reviews of Ford models (for one thing I don't have the time or inclination to keep count of such things), but about how highly they are rated here.

In all fairness Fords are

1 year 27 weeks ago

In all fairness Fords are highly rated everywhere. I imagine that's partially because car reviews place more emphasis on handling than most average drivers do, whilst less on residual values and long-term reilability. Still, I don't think it's unreasonable to suggest that Ford are making some pretty class-leading cars currently.

Its not Ford design language

1 year 27 weeks ago

I quite liked the looks of old Kuga. Very sporty. Especially from side. Front was okay too. Rear was a bit drab though.

This one unfortunately has drab written all over it. What was Ford thinking? Did they hire a VW designer for this?

Its not all bad though. Fords usually handle well and this one seems no exception. Cabin and boot look spacious.

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Our Verdict

Ford Kuga

The new, second-generation Ford Kuga sets a new sporting benchmark among ‘compact’ SUVs

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