Ford's globalisation of its product range has brought the death knell to local product. From Fiestas to Focus or is that Foci? and now Mondeos and Mustangs, the products are a global car on a global platform with one aim, to reduce costs. I recently chose to trade in my trusty Focus XR5 for a Ford Kuga Trend. I chose the 2.0 turbo petrol model which was near $2k cheaper than the diesel powerplant also on offer. Why the jump from a sporty focussed hatch, pardon the pun, to a mid sized SUV? Well the brief I was given by my better half was to look for a family orientated, less hoon sporty type vehicle than the XR5. Therefore with both these boxes ticked, I chose to take the Kuga for a test drive and bought the car. Compared to its competitors, such as X-Trail, Rav 4, and CX-5, the engine punch was gutsy. The steering, ride and handling was of a sporty nature so therefore this ticked my own brief, performance.
The Kuga is classified as a mid sized SUV which is about a standard ruler length longer than a Focus, however sits much higher with some good ground clearance of mountain sized kerbs and suburban speed bumps which are becoming the norm these days. The extra length certainly shows in the cabin with extra rear leg and shoulder room. The boot capacity isn't compromised either and certainly provides flexibility in width and depth thanks to the square box design of the opening allowing you even load a dishwasher, or fridge if you fold down the back seats. The wife also commented on the low loading lip, which by the way is the lowest of its rivals. I opted not to select the auto tailgate function which some might find useful when hands are full of shopping bags. Myself, not interested as it wouldn't look to manly waving a size 13 boot under the rear tailgate whilst doing a rain dance just to open it.
Inside the cabin, the usual fanfare of electronics are present however the 4.2” stereo seems like a million light years away from the driver which isn't a bad thing as it doesn't have GPS either, if it did I wouldn't be able to see the difference between a left turn from a right turn. This downside is made up for with the clever SYNC feature that recognised my voice with no trouble at all, even with my best fake Scottish and French accents, I couldn't fail it. Road view is fine all around with no hidden blackspots at each corner and the standard reversing sensors come in handy as no reversing camera is provided unless you go for an aftermarket option. The power seat is also a great touch to get the right seating position to manage the view of straight ahead.
The intelligent AWD system works well to drag a 1700kg SUV around, and with 178Kw of power and 345Nm of torque, take off can be sprightly with a 0-60km/h time of low 3 seconds. Research shows low 7's can be achieved to reach the century mark. I daresay it would even embarrass some modern hot hatches. The gear changes by the 6 speed auto transmission are smooth and don't hunt around like rival autos can do. Bumps in the road, plenty in Adelaide, are absorbed with no problem at all, which is a relief after many years of driving my XR5 and fusing vertebrate in my spine. Economy on the road is slightly more than the ADR figure of 8.8L/100km however the engine is new and still being broken in by moi'.
Why was the product named Kuga, whereas in some markets overseas it is known as the Escape? I'm not sure…however perhaps mountain lion or Puma were already taken in the Ford product range along with the correctly spelt, 60-80's model Ford/Mercury Cougar. Overall, the ride is quiet, performance is great and teamed up with a low cost of ownership such as an annual service schedule that is lower than rivals, lower registration and insurance than my previous car, it seems I am onto a winner. Time will tell as the car begins to loosen up, and before you say that I may be biased after having owned a Ford previously, what other car maker offers a similar product for the same price with the same specification? Thank you Ford for globalisation and bringing the Kuga to our shores.