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by Tim Beissmann

Ford UK has released an updated version of its Ford Kuga crossover with a range of new engines, powertrain combinations and personalisation options among the highlights.

The 2.0-litre Duratorq TDCi diesel engine has been retuned and is now available with 103kW and 120kW.

The 120kW engine is 20 percent more powerful than the one it replaces and 0-100km/h acceleration times have been cut by more than a second to 9.6secs. Maximum torque is 340Nm and available from 2000rpm to 3250rpm.

Combined cycle fuel consumption has improved six percent to 6.0 litres/100km and CO2 emissions are down 10g/km to 159g/km, satisfying Euro V standards.

The 103kW version is now available in two-wheel drive mode which brings CO2 emissions down to 156g/km.

Ford says engine noise has been reduced through optimisation and careful calibration the combustion process, fuel injection system and engine structure and other acoustic treatments. An acoustic windscreen and improved sound deadening within the cabin has led to overall NVH refinement.

All-wheel drive versions of both diesel tunes can now be ordered with Ford’s PowerShift six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

The 147kW/320Nm 2.5-litre turbocharged petrol Kuga remains at the top of the range, bettering the diesel from 0-100km (8.2 seconds), but lagging well behind on consumption (9.9 litres/100km) and emissions (234g/km).

Ford UK has also introduced a new “Individual” trim available to be optioned onto Titanium models. Aimed at enhancing styling, the Individual package adds a unique front grille, body coloured side skirts and wheel arches, 19in alloys, roof rails and privacy glass, as well as premium leather, scuff plates, aluminium pedals and high-gloss black trim on the inside.

UK pricing for the updated 2010 Ford Kuga starts at £20,495 ($36,800) for the 103kW 2WD Zetec manual and £26,995 ($48,500) for the 147kW AWD Titanium automatic.

But Ford Australia’s Sinead McAlary said local fans of the Kuga will not see the soft-roader Down Under in the short term.

“Our position hasn’t changed. At this point we have no plans to bring Kuga to Australia,” Ms McAlary said.

However, she did confirm that it was still a vehicle of interest and admitted that Ford was reassessing its product plans “every five minutes”.

“We’re constantly looking at these things, but unfortunately Kuga has been an issue for us. Partly because it’s been so popular in Europe, so that has been a problem trying to get any to bring to Australia, but also we currently offer the Escape in Australia and that would be a natural competitor for it, so while we offer Escape it doesn’t make much sense to bring Kuga.”

Ms McAlary said Escape and Kuga would not be sold alongside each another in Australia.

Sales of the Escape have rebounded this year after a lacklustre 2009. In the first half of 2010, Ford sold 1220 units of the Escape, 181 more than for the whole of last year.

But the figures still put it back in 15th position overall in the Compact SUV segment for 2010. The Subaru Forester, Toyota RAV4, Mitsubishi Outlander and Honda CR-V are among the segment leaders, and each recorded more than 1000 sales in June alone.

Ms McAlary said Ford was happy with the current direction of the Escape and had no plans to change the local offering.

“We’ll just keep with the one model. There are no plans to significantly change that at this point,” she said.

The $33,990 XLT is the only model offered in Australia, and teams a 109kW/199Nm 2.3-litre petrol engine with a four-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.




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