Ford’s Euro wish list
Kuga looms to replace Escape, writes NEIL McDONALD
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.