A new plug-in hybrid option is also available from £33,095 in Titanium trim - the same price as the higher-powered 2.0-litre diesel.
The Kuga has been redesigned from the ground up in a bid to attract more buyers in the still-booming family SUV sector, and the new model will be offered with petrol, diesel, mild hybrid, hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains.
As Ford ramps up its European business restructuring, SUVs will play a crucial role. "One in three sales across Europe are SUVs, and for us it's one in five. We want to change that," Jorg Beyer, managing director of product development, told Autocar.
The hybrid line-up in particular is expected to be key to attracting new customers. Ford has beaten many of its rivals to market with its plug-in hybrid option, which mates a 2.5-litre Atkinson cycle petrol engine with an electric motor and 10.3kWh battery to deliver 222bhp. The model can travel up to 34 miles on electricity alone, giving it an official economy figure of 201mpg on the WLTP cycle in PHEV operating mode (or 43.5mpg WLTP with no charge in the battery). Official CO2 emissions are just 29g/km.
Buyers will also able to choose a regular hybrid set-up, akin to that of the Toyota Prius, linking the 2.5-litre petrol engine to an electric motor and smaller battery to deliver 50.4mpg and 130g/km. A 48-volt mild hybrid setup is mated to a 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine to offer 56.5mpg and 132g/km. Conventional 1.5-litre petrol and 2.0-litre diesel variants are also available, mated to either a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic gearbox. Front and four-wheel drive are both available.
Also striking is the new, more sophisticated and less boxy look of the third-generation Nissan Qashqai, Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson rival. The styling moves Ford’s design language another step on from the more contoured lines of the latest Fiesta and Focus. The interior also follows those cars, delivering an uncluttered, sweeping look despite the raft of technological functions that are offered, the majority of which are controlled through the central touchscreen.
The Kuga sits on the same C2 platform as the new Focus, being longer, wider and having a larger wheelbase – and therefore improved stability and dynamics – than the car it replaces. The platform is also said to be 10% torsionally stiffer than the outgoing car’s, as well as supporting the basis for a more aerodynamic design and allowing weight savings of up to 90kg over today’s model.
In particular, the new Kuga is said to deliver more interior room than before, including what Ford says is class-leading space for rear-seat passengers thnks to an 89mm length increase. In the front, occupants get 43mm more shoulder room and 57mm more hip room than in the current model, while in the rear there is a 20mm increase in shoulder room and 36mm more hip room, while the seats, split 70:30, slide fore and aft as standard.