Ford’s Euro wish list

Kuga looms to re­place Es­cape, writes NEIL McDON­ALD

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News -

TWO of the hottest new Euro­pean Fords are on the shop­ping list for Aus­tralia — the Kuga all-wheel drive and S-Max peo­ple mover. They are com­pact mod­els built off the me­chan­i­cal pack­age of the Fo­cus and could be eas­ily added to the Ford Aus­tralia fam­ily, pro­vided there is a case for solid lo­cal sales.

Of the pair, the Kuga is more likely be­cause it could swing in as a re­place­ment for the age­ing Es­cape.

Ford group vice-pres­i­dent Der­rick Kuzak is en­thu­si­as­tic about the pair, but cars­Guide un­der­stands Ford Aus­tralia can­not go it alone. It will need the en­dorse­ment of a least one other Asia-Pa­cific mar­ket to get the nod.

Kuzak says Ford is looking at its op­tions for both ve­hi­cles, but they would need a sound busi­ness case for Aus­tralia.

Whether Kuga is a re­place­ment for the Es­cape, or is a sep­a­rate model, is an­other is­sue.

‘‘The Es­cape has a very loyal world fol­low­ing and mil­lions of cus­tomers, so we need to pay par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion to them,’’ Kuzak says. ‘‘We need to en­sure cus­tomers are there to­day, when they’re com­ing, and what we need to do to make a busi­ness case.

‘‘When you’ve made the busi­ness case for the first ve­hi­cle it’s a lot eas­ier for the rest of them to fol­low.’’

The Kuga is 27mm shorter, 50mm lower and 17mm wider than the Es­cape, and has a 70mm longer wheel­base.

It is avail­able in Europe with the same 100kW/320Nm 2.0-litre turbo-diesel as the Fo­cus. How­ever, next year the range will be ex­panded with a 2.5-litre five-cylin­der turbo, an en­gine shared with Volvo. It is avail­able in ei­ther front or all-wheel drive.

The Kuga has a high level of stan­dard equip­ment in Europe, in­clud­ing elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol with com­bined anti-rollover mit­i­ga­tion, anti-skid brakes and an in­tel­li­gent all-wheel-drive sys­tem that dis­trib­utes torque up to 50/50 front and rear.

It has a roomy in­te­rior and lug­gage area that can fit from 410 litres to 1355 litres when the rear seats are folded flat.

Ford de­scribes the five-seater C-Max as a ‘‘multi-ac­tiv­ity ve­hi­cle’’, but in essence it is a sporty wagon. In Europe it is avail­able with three four-cylin­der petrol en­gines, a tur­bod­iesel, LPG, CNG and bio-ethanol.

Come on down: the Ford Kuga is ear­marked to re­place the pop­u­lar Es­cape in Aus­tralia (above, inset), and the S-Max wagon (be­low) is an­other po­ten­tial new model Down Un­der.

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