From Focus to Galaxy, Mondeo to S-Max, and now the Kuga, every time Ford launches a new car these days its position at or near the very top of its class for dynamic excellence seems assured. The Kuga provides handling as superior to the class norm as any of its stablemates do in their classes. The only difference is that with the high centre of gravity and excess weight that so characterises cars of this sort, the overall level of achievement is inevitably going to be lower than among more conventional machinery.
So, by the standards of those with which it must compete, the Kuga is indeed a fine-handling machine. But not even Ford can defy the laws of physics, and the fact that it’s a quarter of a metre higher and nearly a quarter of a tonne heavier than a Focus is apparent at every turn. Even so, its steering is linear and direct, and has much of the weighty precision that has helped Ford earn its name as the company that understands better than any other how to make wheels that are both steered and driven feel right.
Body roll is also well controlled, but that is an attribute that has not been achieved without penalty. The price paid, indeed, comes in the form of compromised ride quality. Again, the Kuga disappoints not because it’s bad but because experience shows us that new cars wearing the Blue Oval usually tend towards brilliance in this area. In fact, it’s quite a comfortable conveyance once you’ve ascertained that the firmness of its suspension does not translate into harshness in the cabin. What it lacks is that almost liquid feeling of fluency, where the car flows down the road with so little apparent effort that it’s hard to imagine how something with simple steel springs can exhibit such suppleness.