Se­ri­ous cat purrs along

NT News - Motoring - - CARS GUIDE - By STU­ART MARTIN

AP­PETITES for SUVs don’t look like be­ing sat­is­fied yet and Ford’s new Kuga prom­ises to make the menu choice even harder.

Adding a front-drive en­try-level model as well as a diesel to the line-up that made a cameo ap­pear­ance on its pricelist from Fe­bru­ary last year, the Kuga goes on sale next month from $27,990 for the petrolpow­ered front-drive man­ual — a $11,000 drop to buy into the Ford cat fam­ily.

Ford Aus­tralia’s David Katic says the price marks the Kuga as a ‘‘se­ri­ous con­tender.’’ ‘‘Cus­tomers to­day are chas­ing value-for­money and the Ford Kuga de­liv­ers,’’ he says.

More space within a stronger struc­ture, a diesel engine op­tion and the de­but (for a Ford ve­hi­cle here) of the Emer­gency As­sis­tance sys­tem are all key points to the Kuga’s ap­peal. VALUE: The Blue Oval has the en­try-level Kuga — the Am­bi­ente front-wheel drive petrol six-speed man­ual — start­ing from $27,990, ris­ing to $31,490 if you want the more-pow­er­ful all-wheeldrive and a con­ven­tional six-speed au­to­matic.

Stan­dard fare in­cludes cloth trim, stop-start and brake en­ergy re­cov­ery fuel

Cus­tomers to­day are chas­ing value-for­money and the Ford Kuga de­liv­ers

sav­ing sys­tems, 17in steel wheels, fog lights, a reach’n’rake ad­justable leather-wrapped steer­ing wheel, Blue­tooth phone link, USB and aux­il­iary in­puts for the six-speaker sound sys­tem and pow­er­ad­justable heated ex­te­rior mir­rors.

The mid-spec auto-only Trend starts from $36,240 for the AWD petrol-auto, ris­ing to $39,240 for the dual-clutch tur­bod­iesel auto AWD.

For the ex­tra out­lay the Trend of­fers 18in al­loy wheels, leather trim ad­di­tions, power ad­just­ment for the driver’s seat, an auto-dim­ming cen­tre rearview mir­rors, dual-zone cli­mate con­trol with rear vents, au­to­matic head­lights and the Sync nine-speaker sound sys­tem with dig­i­tal ra­dio re­cep­tion.

The Titanium flag­ship re­tains the same driv­e­train, ask­ing $44,740 for the petrol and $47,740 if you pre­fer a diesel/dual-clutch driv­e­train, adding 19in al­loys, a glass sun­roof, bi-xenon head­lights with LED run­ning and tail-lights, leather trim, front seat heaters, am­bi­ent LED in­te­rior light­ing, power-fold­ing ex­te­rior mir­rors, the hands-free tail­gate, front park­ing sen­sors, air­craft-style rear fold-down ta­bles for rear oc­cu­pants, key­less en­try and ig­ni­tion, satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion and a re­vers­ing cam­era. TECH­NOL­OGY: The new Kuga claims a 25 per cent lower thirst for petrol (be­tween 6.7 and 8l/100km) by way em­ploy­ing the 1.6-litre EcoBoost di­rect-in­jec­tion turbo petrol engine— the en­try-level car get’s a 110kW/240Nm tune or the AWD mod­els up­grade to 134kW, still down on the out­go­ing (but thirstier at 10.6) Kuga’s 147kW/ 320Nm out­put.

The two-litre tur­bod­ieselis largely a car­ry­over engine, pro­duc­ing 120kW and 340Nm with a thirst around 6.3 litres per 100km. DE­SIGN: Sharper look­ing than the out­go­ing car, the new Kuga has the same wheel­base at 2690mm but is 81mm longer, 4mm nar­rower and 8mm lower — the boffins have given the rear oc­cu­pants and the load area the ben­e­fits of re­vised pack­ag­ing to im­prove rear space.

Cargo space has risen from 360 to 406 litres when the rear seats are oc­cu­pied, or when folded the vol­ume has gone from 1355 to 1603 litres when only two-up. SAFETY: A struc­ture boast­ing more than 30 per cent of high and ul­tra-high strength steel — in­clud­ing the A and B pil­lars and door sills — has helped get the Kuga five stars from NCAP, as does a front chas­sis sub­frame that de­tachs in se­vere frontal im­pacts.

Safety fea­tures also in­clude a driver’s knee airbag, dual front, front-side and cur­tain airbags, anti-lock brakes, sta­bil­ity and trac­tion con­trol,roll-over and trail sway con­trol sys­tems. VER­DICT: Ford’s re­turn to the medium SUV mar­ket has merit — com­pet­i­tive pric­ing, and driv­e­trains, a quiet and re­fined pack­age, im­proved cabin space and com­fort — and should make it on to the shop­ping lists for those in the mar­ket. The seg­ment is crowded but the Kuga has some key safety fea­tures in a solid over­all pack­age.

The en­try-level Ford Kuga SUV has im­proved cabin space, added safety fea­tures and tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances that should im­press buy­ers

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