Whenever you read that a new car is based on the platform of an existing model, there is a temptation to believe that the two are one and the same in all bar cosmetic detail.
And, on occasion, that is a fair enough conclusion to reach. But not this time. Yes, the Kuga owes some of its basic architecture to the previous generation of Focus, but to regard the Kuga as a Focus in plus fours is to underestimate entirely how much work Ford had to do to create the Kuga. For a start, it shares not a single significant dimension with the Focus, being longer, wider and higher.
But perhaps the most significant difference is their weight, especially on the four-wheel drive models. Next to a five-door Focus hatch equipped with the same engine, Ford’s own figures show the Kuga to weigh around 250kg more than the old Focus. That's understandable, but in our view the four-wheel drive system will spend the vast majority of its working life driving the front wheels alone, pulling the rest of its hardware along as redundant weight. While the two-wheel drive car will save you a few pounds (and lbs) it doesn’t massively affect the performance or economy.
One of the Ford Kuga's design highlights is that it carries big power bulges in the bonnet, but don't be fooled - the engine itself is buried beneath a plastic shroud deep within the car. The Kuga's sporty styling is further highlighted by twin rear pipes — and they don’t even face down, despite most Kugas being diesel-powered.
Conveniently, the rear hatch has two-piece operation, allowing small and light items to be loaded through the rear window without opening the entire gate.