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by Tim Beissmann

The all-new Ford Kuga will make its Australian debut at this month’s 2012 Sydney motor show ahead of its local showroom launch in the first quarter of 2013.

The new mid-size Kuga SUV will join the smaller Ford EcoSport crossover – also making its Australian premiere – on the Ford stand, with the latter scheduled to go on sale in the second half of next year, giving the blue oval brand a full range of SUVs topped by the locally manufactured Territory.

The new Ford Kuga will arrive in Australia just 12 months after Ford Australia belatedly introduced the ageing TE-series Kuga to its line-up as a stopgap between the old Mazda Tribute-based Escape SUV and the all-new model.

While the outgoing Kuga is only available with a single petrol powertrain and two highly specified model variants starting from $38,990, the new range will be significantly broader with petrol and diesel engines and more affordable versions that should drop the starting price below $30,000, helping Ford compete with the likes of the Mazda CX-5, Toyota RAV4 and the Nissan X-Trail.

A 129kW 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbocharged EcoBoost powerplant is tipped to be joined by a 120kW 2.0-litre diesel from launch, with six-speed manual and automatic transmissions sending power to either the front or all four wheels.

The new Kuga offers a larger and more versatile interior that boasts high quality materials and soft-touch plastics as well as Ford’s SYNC connectivity system, which has just launched in the compact Focus range.

The current-generation Kuga has largely failed to win over the local market. Just 738 were sold to the end of August, leaving it trailing behind the discontinued Escape on 757 sales.

Along with the EcoSport, the 2013 Ford Kuga will join the Focus ST, FPV GT RSPEC and Ford Performance Racing’s (FPR) Car of the Future prototype on the Sydney motor show stand from October 18.