Ford will finally enter the small 4x4 market next spring with the new Focus-based Kuga, priced from around £20,000, and you’re looking at the first official photographs of it.European design director Martin Smith acknowledges that Ford has taken a long time bringing a small SUV to the market. “Over the last two to three years we’ve been refreshing the range,” he said. “Cars like the S-Max, Galaxy and Mondeo are critical to get to the market. We know we’re late, but we think now is the right time for this car.” The Kuga’s competitors include Toyota’s RAV4 and the forthcoming VW Tiguan, as well as Nissan’s Qashqai crossover that blurs the boundaries between hatchback and SUV.
The car uses Ford’s “kinetic design” theme, adapted to create what Smith and Kuga designer Stefan Lamm call a more rugged look. The shoulder line is stronger and more pronounced than that of the Mondeo and S-Max. At the rear, the tailgate is split with an opening glass hatch. The Kuga is based on Ford’s C1 platform, used in the Focus and distinct from the C1+ chassis used by the Land Rover Freelander. Standard cars will be front-wheel drive, with what Ford is calling an “intelligent” four-wheel drive transmission available as an option. Ford claims the car will be capable in the rough. “We didn’t ignore off-road ability when we designed it,” said Smith.
Diesel first, petrol later
The range of engines will be limited at launch; initially the Kuga will be available only with Ford’s 134bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine, driving a six-speed manual ’box. This will be the biggest seller, but there’s the possibility that a turbocharged 2.5-litre petrol model will be added to the range next year. Inside, the Kuga’s dash is derived from current Ford models, but the seats and door trims feature orange piping with white plastic on the centre console, as seen on the Iosis X. The Kuga will be available with options such as the orange trim as part of Ford’s Individual programme, available for European S-Max buyers. Other options include the polished alloy 19in wheels on the car pictured (17in rims are standard), a panoramic glass roof and a reversing camera. Ford expects to make 65,000 Kugas per year, and its addition to the Saarlouis plant in Germany will mean the factory will be working at 100 per cent capacity. Despite Ford CEO Alan Mullaly’s plan to create global cars sold in America as well as other Ford markets, the Kuga will not make it to the US.