Dead and buried is the quirky Kuga of old. It was highly rated by us but it proved popular on too few continents, and catered for too narrow a spread of tastes, to be worthy of a place among the Mulally model generation.
Its replacement has in effect moved up a class. Measuring over 4.5m long, it’s now a closer match for a Kia Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe than a Nissan Qashqai or Mazda CX-5, and has kept pace with a facelifted version released late in 2016, which saw further inspiration drawn from the US market, the inclusion of a new Ford SUV corporate grille - seen formerly on the Edge - and the addition of new trims including the sporty ST-Line and the luxury-focussed Vignale.
The repositioning of the Kuga is a crucial part of Ford of Europe’s growth strategy; Ford is aiming to displace the more traditional ‘sports utility’ brands and lead the 4x4 market, and with the emergence of the new and very large Edge - it is well-placed to do so.
Ford's new Kuga caters for many tastes too, as it's offered with a range of frugal turbocharged petrol and diesel engines and the option of automatic transmissions on some models. There's even less costly two-wheel drive models, which are notably more efficient, ideal for those who want something the size and shape of the Kuga but without the need for additional traction.
Little by little, the Ford Motor Company is becoming the model of a streamlined, right-size international car maker. But this Kuga will need to sell every bit as well as many of Ford’s more traditional models if that’s going to happen. Is it up to the task?