From £21,650
A niche product, but the petrol Kuga is every bit as good as its diesel counterpart
Autocar
27 February 2009

What is it?

This is the Ford Kuga 2.5 Titanium, the first petrol-engined Ford Kuga. It’s powered by a 2.5-litre turbocharged five-cylinder engine that’s basically a detuned version of the motor that propels the Focus ST and RS.

Unlike diesel Kugas, however, this one is four-wheel drive only; there is no option of a front-drive model. You also get the chance to add a five-speed auto ’box to it, but a six-speed manual is the standard transmission.

What’s it like?

Whether or not the new Ford Kuga 2.5 Titanium is any good may only be of academic interest to most UK buyers into the idea of a mid-sized SUV.

Indeed, even the most optimistic Blue Oval executives reckon that, with the 2.0-litre diesel as the mainstay of the Ford Kuga range, this new petrol model is only going to attract a tiny portion of the business of what is now the best-selling car in its class.

Then again, Ford reckons that there are enough must-have petrol buyers out there to justify putting the Kuga 2.5 Titanium on the price lists, and possibly one or two of us downsizing from bigger four-wheel drives who don’t want to lose out on poke or who want the option of an auto.

It's just as well Ford is offering the Kuga 2.5 too, as it’s a great effort. We’ve been left impressed by the diesels, and the 2.5 litre is more of the same. You’re getting a great-looking and spacious SUV as well as the best riding and handling car in its sector, but it's now allied to a delightfully flexible and pretty punchy engine.

In the manual Kuga that we were driving the five-pot provided plenty of overtaking urge, and plenty of character, even if it’s a mite more muffled than in the hot Focuses.

The downside is that fuel economy and emissions are hardly inspiring; there’s no doubt that a four-cylinder turbo would be better and dish out equal performance.

Should I buy one?

The price tag may be hard to swallow, but even that looks good next to the Land Rover Freelander. And image aside, the Kuga is easily the equal, if not the better of the Landie.

So if you must have petrol power, then the Kuga 2.5 is easily one of the best mid-sized SUVs on the market. But we reckon most of you will find the plus points of the diesel too hard to resist.

Chas Hallett

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Comments
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Uncle Mellow 26 October 2009

Re: Ford Kuga 2.5 Titanium

The Apprentice wrote:
In fact there is something wrong with that Focus chassis packaging, when it was pinched for the Volvo s40/V50 they ended up with terrible sized boots, less useful than the previous smaller models with a different chassis.

Always thought the wheelbase was too long on the Focus , so they have to cut short the rear overhang.

jmgsimpson 26 October 2009

Re: Ford Kuga 2.5 Titanium

I think a lot of comments miss the point about the Kuga, it's the nicest soft offroader to drive by far. I have just changed two diesels for the auto petrols and the downside 34 - 38 mpg to 22- 26 mpg upside what a lovely driving combination. I drive 10000km and 8000 miles each year and even with UK & Spanish prices work it out, not a shed of cash especially since I got £7k & €12k off (being disabled helps with no VAT/TVA & Matriculation (car tax) but even without the £3.5k €6k discounts buys a lot of petrol. A well built German car without the quality issues I have had with BMW X3 which cost in 3l auto M Sport mode almost as two Kugas even where I have all the toys except satnav (TomTom far cheaper and now on iPhone). They are also very satisfyingly quick - brouchure says 200hp / 197HP but when the cars are checked on Ford own duster they are referred as 220/225hp internally -odd. Boot is not big but seats fold flat easily and the has taken a 1.2 / 1.4 mtr satellite dish and all the heavy bits from Belfast to Luxenbourg to Vigo in cruise control comfort, overall packageing is not as good as the C-Max @ X3 they replaced but the Kuga will bring a smile (grin in the 2.5) through the bendy bits. Only observation, 18" wheels is you want a precise but firm ride, 17" for speed humps. I prefer the 17" in the UK but the 18" in Spain are acceptable enough. Everyone is entitled to their views but these are seriously good cars & I think the looks are refreshing different to the rest of the field. Before MS changed my prioritys I have been lucky to drive some of the nicest cars made over the years and for me, sorry this car works!

Lee23404 7 March 2009

Re: Ford Kuga 2.5 Titanium

ordinary bloke wrote:
I can't really believe that the Kuga is the best seller in its class - I've only seen one on the roads round here and a couple on motorway trips, if it was a best seller I'd expect to see more than that. Maybe the dealers are all registering them as demonstrators.

I find that hard to believe as well. I must have seen 10 Tiguans for every Kuga I've seen.