Newspaper article Coffs Coast Advocate (Coffs Harbour, Australia)

Ready to Get Its Claws into the SUV Opposition; This Is the Blue Oval branda[euro][TM]s First Genuine Contender in the Booming Mid-Size SUV Category

Newspaper article Coffs Coast Advocate (Coffs Harbour, Australia)

Ready to Get Its Claws into the SUV Opposition; This Is the Blue Oval branda[euro][TM]s First Genuine Contender in the Booming Mid-Size SUV Category

Article excerpt

VITAL STATISTICS

Model: Ford Kuga.

Details: Five-door front-wheel and all-wheel drive medium-size sports utility vehicle.

Engines: 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol generating 110kW @ 5700rpm and peak torque of 240Nm @ 1600-4000rpm; 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol 135kW @ 5700rpm and 240Nm @ 1600-5000rpm; 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel 120kW @ 3750rpm and 340Nm @ 2000-3250rpm.

Transmissions: Six-speed manual (on FWD 1.6L only) or six speed automatic.

Consumption: 6.7 litres/100km (1.6); 7.7 (1.6 AWD); 6.3 (2.0 diesel).

Bottom line: Ambiente $27,990 (m); Ambiente $31,490 (AWD auto); Trend $36,240 (1.6L auto); Trend $39,240 (2.0L auto); Titanium $44,740 (1.6L auto); Titanium $47,740 (2.0L auto) plus on-roads.

FORD has stepped up its attack on the compact SUV market.

The Blue Oval has been a bit player in one of the fastest-growing segments with its aging Escape and current Kuga, but the all-new model Kuga promises to be a more serious challenger to the top-selling Nissan X-Trail, Mazda CX-5 and Toyota RAV4.

This new Kuga is longer and lower, features two new engines and a raft of new technology and features.

It will be available with either a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine mated to both manual (front-wheel- drive only) and automatic transmissions or a 2.0-litre turbo diesel paired only with a six-speed dual-clutch transmission.

Pricing has been sharpened over the old Escape and Kuga models, with the Ambiente 1.6-litre EcoBoost manual two-wheel drive model beginning at $27,990 plus on-road costs.

By comparison the old Escape 2.3-litre auto started at $28,990 and the cheapest Kuga was $38,990.

Comfort

The interior is a big step forward from the old Kuga, borrowing heavily from the Focus (Sony stereo, SYNC infotainment, steering wheel, etc).

Rear seat space is tight for adults, particularly on headroom, and the Ambiente misses out on rear air-con vents, even though they are standard on Trend and Titanium.

On the road

A brief drive through the Adelaide Hills is enough to discover this new Kuga will be a serious rival to the likes of the Mazda CX-5, Subaru Forester and Toyota RAV4.

It has retained the sporty driving dynamics of the outgoing Kuga, but in a bigger, more modern package.

While it lacks the mid-rev-range pulling power of some of its rivals, the diesel has good performance and good economy a and crucially opens another buyer group to the Kuga range.

The new 1.6-litre EcoBoost four-cylinder turbo petrol performs well for its size. It has good urge low down in the rev range and has mid-range punch that makes overtaking easy, despite its small capacity.

The manual transmission in the entry-level Ambiente front-wheel-drive model is tuned for fuel economy so the ratios are tall. …

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