FORD KUGA TITANIUM
The Titanium is the absolute top of the Kuga range. The 2.0-litre turbo engine was upgraded late last year, along with some equipment updates. Standard fare includes self-parking technology, satnav, heated leather seats, sunroof and rear-view camera. The tailgate can be opened by sweeping a foot under the rear bumper with sensor key in hand. Service interval is 12 months/ 15,000km, the first three costing $310 each (though the fourth year/60,000km service spikes to $510).
The four-cylinder, the most powerful in its class (178kW/ 345Nm), is shared with the Focus ST hot hatch (in a different state of tune). It has a lot of oomph from low revs and is supremely smooth and refined. The catch: it’s comparatively thirsty (8.8L/100km) and
requires premium unleaded.
The Kuga adopted Ford’s European design theme, which the company has now embraced globally. The spaceship-style dashboard won’t be to everyone’s taste but it’s functional and there is ample oddment storage. The cabin is roomy and the cargo area is massive (406L seats up, 1603L down). Seven airbags bolster the five-star safety rating. The Titanium will automatically call 000 in a crash if the airbags are deployed and if a mobile phone is paired and within range. Rear-view camera is also standard. A worthwhile $1600 technology pack includes automatic emergency braking, radar cruise control, blind-spot warning and lane-keeping cameras.
Under luxurious compact SUV styling, the Titanium conceals hothatch performance. The turbo engine is a joy, always ready to move even with the slightest press of the accelerator. Ford has also done an incredibly good job on the suspension — it soaks up bumps despite riding on 19-inch wheels shod with low-profile tyres.