By the standards of its classmates, Ford has been able to retain a reasonably trim waistline for the Kuga, keeping weight down among the class average even on cars carrying the heavy four-wheel drive kit.

That said, the lower-powered diesel Kuga’s performance never even approaches the engagingly sprightly, let alone anything that might honestly be described as quick. Thanks to the reasonably wide torque band of the engine and the sensible spacing of its six gears, you can make fair progress through traffic and overtake quite effectively. But despite its sporting looks and a name that seeks comparison with a wild beast, anyone hoping that the Kuga will somehow break out of the terminally dull performance ditch in which all these cod-off-roaders wallow is in for a disappointment.

Manual gear change quality is acceptable but a little slow

The 165bhp turbodiesel (only available with four-wheel drive) will drop the 0-62mph time by the best part of a second, but that’s not really enough to warrant spending another couple of grand in our estimation.

Similarly, the 2.5-litre, five-cylinder petrol car offers hot hatch performance, but a lofty price tag and loftier fuel bills. Unless you opt for an auto Kuga, the gear change quality is acceptable but a little slow and heavy in its action – not unlike the car to which it is attached.

Braking performance, be it measured by feel, fade or outright retardation, was beyond serious criticism in our tests.

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