Just a light tap on the accelerator and the Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) surges ahead without a stutter and no sign of turbo lag. It’s the new Ford Kuga 2 litre TDCi Titanium AWD with Powershift, the flagship of the range, which was delivered to my door the other day. Ford calls its compact Crossover a “smart” utility vehicle.
The Kuga range was introduced to South Africans at the tail-end of its life a few years ago. At the time I tested the Trend, which had only a few bells and whistles and it guzzled fuel.
The newTitanium has the hands-free open sesame for the boot. Move your foot under the bumper, and if you have the key on you, the tailgate will go up. Just don’t let the lid hit you under the chin. Boot space is 458 litres but with the rear seats folded flat it increases to an enormous 1 653 litres.
The Kuga has a 230 volt/150W power converter which you can use to charge your mobile devices – cellphones and tablets – through the 12volt outlets in the front and in the luggage compartment. So when Eskom cuts the electricity you may even be able to power up your garage door. Just joking.
Here are some of the technological goodies in the Kuga and you can see why it’s called a smart vehicle. They are part of the Titanium option package: Active park assist, which helps you to parallel park, lane keeping aid, driver alert and the blind spot information system, to name some. Standard on the Titanium are the tyre pressure monitoring system; bi-Xenon HID headlamps with auto high beam, as well as LED daytime running lights; the Ford SYNC multimedia system and a rear parking sensor with audio warning. A negative is that the spare wheel is a space saver and not full size.
The interior materials are of good quality and although the dashboard appears quite fussy with lots of buttons, the multimedia system is user-friendly.
The leather seats are comfortable and you can adjust the driver’s seat 10 ways while the rear back rests can recline. Storage space is ample.
The 2-litre diesel engine is quiet and with just a faint rumble when you press the start button. I didn’t feel any turbo lag and the six-speed automatic moves quickly through the gears. There are two modes: Drive and Sport and if you’re feeling energetic you can do some manual changes through the paddle shift buttons, badly placed on the right side of the gear stick. Levers would have been better but that’s academic. Why else would you buy a vehicle with automatic transmission? If not to let the gearbox do the work for you? Torque is 132kW at 400 N.m at 2 000 to 3 750 rpm.
Most diesels are quite miserly with fuel and the Kuga is no exception. My figures were a bit more than Ford’s claimed 6.2 litres/100km. I recorded figures closer to 7litres/100km on a town and country cycle.
Safety features include ABS with Emergency Brake Assist (EBA) and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) with Traction Control and Hill Launch Assist. There are also seven airbags.
I liked the Kuga for a lot of reasons: it looks modern and despite its compact size, it’s comfortable and spacious; it handles well and it has all the bells and whistles you’d ever need.
Drive it and you’ll understand why the woman in the TV advertisement has such a big grin on her face. I was sad to give it back.
* The Titanium will set you back R418 900 but you will have to pay more for the option package (but check with your dealer). The 2 litre TDCi Titanium has a five-year/ 90 000 km service plan.