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by Tim Beissmann

The second-generation Ford Kuga has debuted at the 2012 Geneva motor show, giving us our best look yet at the all-new compact SUV that will go on sale in Australia in early 2013.

The compact SUV was first unveiled at the 2011 Los Angeles motor show in November, where it was badged as the Ford Escape. Built under the company’s ‘One Ford’ strategy, the European Kuga is essentially the same at the US-spec Escape, although there will be a few small styling and specification differences. The Kuga vehicles delivered to Australia will be based on the European-spec cars.

Among the region-specific announcements at Geneva was confirmation of the Kuga’s diesel engine. The 2.0-litre TDCi unit from the Focus will be available in two states of tune – 103kW and 120kW – and will be available with a six-speed dual-clutch transmission. Ford Australia has not confirmed its powertrain plans for the new Kuga, but the high-performance diesel engine seems like an obvious choice for our market.

The Kuga range will also include two turbocharged EcoBoost petrol engines: a 129kW 1.6-litre and a 177kW 2.0-litre – the latter being similar to the engine destined for the Falcon EcoBoost. The US-spec Escape will also be available with a naturally aspirated 125kW 2.5-litre petrol engine.

The Australian launch of the all-new Kuga will come little more than one year after the local introduction of the first-gen model, which belatedly arrived last month to replace the out-dated Escape.

The Kuga unveiled at Geneva also gives us a look at the revised interior that will carry over to Australian-spec cars. While the Escape gets the sophisticated MyFord Touch infotainment system with a large full-colour screen, the Kuga gets the less-advanced Sync system with a smaller screen and more buttons on the dashboard.

A number of other high-tech features like Active Park Assist, Blind Spot Information System and the hands-free, foot-activated automatic tailgate will be available on both Escape and Kuga models around the world.

The new Kuga’s boot is 82 litres larger than the existing model – up from a sub-par 360 litres to a more respectable 442 litres. The rear seats can also be folded flat at the touch of a button to further expand its load capacity.

The new Ford Kuga is expected to arrive in Australia ahead of the all-new Fiesta-based Ford EcoSport sub-compact SUV, which is due around mid 2013.




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