A comparison between the best of the best! Francois Steyn compares so we can spot the difference and buy sensibly.
Ford Kuga launch (Cape Town)

Ford Kuga
The Ford Kuga has been available in Europe since 2008, but Ford has decided it's time to introduce this Crossover to the local market. You only need to notice how many Hyundai iX35's and Kia Sportages roam our roads to see why they made the decision. Motorists are increasingly looking for something in between a normal sedan (so 90's) and a hard-core, environmentally (and wallet) unfriendly 4x4.

I recently attended the local launch of the Ford Kuga in Cape Town and was more than a little impressed. The Kuga's design clearly shows the family DNA, something Ford calls 'Kinetic Design' and it really is good to look at from all the angles. Both models in the line-up sport the 2.5 litre Duratec 5 cylinder turbo charged petrol engine. Used in the Ford ST, but re-tuned to match the expectations a Crossover vehicle might demand, it delivers 147 kW at 6 000 r/min and 320 Nm of torque between 1 600 and 4 000 r/min. The sweet sounding exhaust note is evident from the twin tailpipes.

There are only two models currently available in South Africa, Trend and Titanium. Both feature the Duratec engine and a Durashift 5-tronic automatic transmission. Gear changes are smooth and you have the option to manually swap cogs with the lever. No paddle shifting behind the steering wheel. The driverŐs seat is six-way electronically adjustable for maximum comfort and the audio controls are located on a stalk to the left of the steering wheel. Both models have voice activated controls for the audio system and your cell phone, which you can pair with the system using Bluetooth. The top model also has dual zone climate control, so there's no arguing about the temperature between driver and passenger.

There is a myriad of electronic wizardry keeping all four wheels firmly planted. I am not going to explain it all here as it's a bit much to digest if you're donŐt have a PhD, but put simply the following aids work together:

The Kuga is front wheel drive, but when the all-wheel-drive system detects loss of grip it can distribute up to 50% of torque to the rear axle. If an aggressive foot stomps on the go-faster pedal, 10% is immediately available at the rear, even before the car starts moving. The electronic stability programme (ESP) can detect surface changes on the road and adjust accordingly. This means you don't have to switch off ESP when driving in soft sand where you need some wheel spin to get through the loose surface to the higher friction earth below. The anti-rollover mitigation (ARM) system will do a series of tricks to induce just enough over-steer when a potential four-wheels-in-the-air situation is predicted. The dedicated axle software analyses and controls the yaw and reduces the torque and brakes the wheels as necessary.

That all said the Kuga is not all tin-brain. The 60/40 split rear seats fold completely flat to allow for a 1 355 cc boot space and it has a split rear tail gate for easy access. Under the rear seats there are handy storage compartments and headroom is ample front and rear. Heated front seats are standard and the start button is uniquely located high up in the centre of the dash. Aesthetically the only change I'd suggest was to make this latter button's oval-shaped Ford logo blue instead of black.

At a base price of R375 000 for the Trend and R395 000 for the Titanium the Kuga is set to compete at the top end of the segment. At the price though, none of the competition so far has a petrol engine that comes close and for looks the Kuga earns full marks. For peace of mind a 4-year / 80 000km service plan and 3-year / unlimited km roadside assistance plan is included.

Review by Francois Steyn

Ford Kuga


new > inREVIEW: Honda VFR1200X Crosstourer
> Be Pleasantly Surprised - Amarok 4x2 2.0 TSi, Volvo V60 T3 vs. D3, Nissan Micra 1.2 Acenta vs. Suzuki Jimny 1.3
> inREVIEW: 7-UP People Carriers
> inREVIEW: BMW X3 xDrive35i
> inREVIEW: Mafia Motoring 101
> inREVIEW: Out the Box - Suzuki Swift 1.4 GLS, OPEL ASTRA 1.4T Enjoy Plus & BMW G650GS
> inREVIEW: The Hyundai Sonata 2.4 GLS EXEC, VW Touran 1.2TSi & Subaru Outback 2.0D Boxer Diesel
> inREVIEW: Three Green Machines
> Suzuki SX4 2.0i AWD in Review


> Toyota
> Landrover
Copyright © | 2011 | DO IT NOW | All rights reserved | Terms & Conditions