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.