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.