ALSO CON­SIDER

The Advertiser - Motoring - - ROAD TEST -

MAZDA CX-5 MAXX $33,690 Just up­dated with best-in-class stan­dard safety tech. Made in Ja­pan qual­ity. 138kW 2.5-litre runs on reg­u­lar petrol. All-wheel driv­e­train. SUBARU FORESTER 2.5I-L $33,240 Eye­Sight safety tech isn’t avail­able on this vari­ant, which is a shame. Driv­e­train is 126kW 2.5-litre/CVT/AWD. A bit thirsty. VW TIGUAN 110 TSI TRENDLINE $33,490 The brand seems to be do­ing its best to alien­ate cus­tomers but Tiguan should be on your test drive short­list. Runs a 110kW 1.4-litre turbo/six-speed dual-clutch auto. kick­down. It’s not an is­sue in Sport mode, and pad­dle-shifters are also pro­vided.

The Trend used 10-12L/ 100km in town, as­sisted by un­ob­tru­sive stop-start. Pre­mium is rec­om­mended.

Elec­tric power steer­ing is a touch heavy at park­ing speeds and the brake pedal is high. Ride com­fort is ex­cel­lent. Though firm, the sus­pen­sion de­liv­ers out­stand­ing com­pli­ance and con­trol, as is usu­ally the case in ve­hi­cles en­gi­neered by Ford of Europe.

ON THE ROAD

The 1.5 doesn’t quite feel like 134kW worth of power at the top end but with a solid 240Nm avail­able from 1600rp­m5000rpm, it’s rarely nec­es­sary to go there. It’s a silent high­way cruiser, re­turn­ing 7-8L/100km.

As in town, the ride is ab­sorbent and the sus­pen­sion ex­er­cises dis­ci­plined con­trol over body move­ment. That said, the Es­cape can feel dis­con­cert­ingly top heavy, like most ri­vals, in a tight cor­ner, a char­ac­ter­is­tic ex­ac­er­bated by pretty sharp steer­ing. It pushes the front tyres hard but they’re wide (235/50-18), good qual­ity Con­ti­nen­tals, so they hang on well, es­pe­cially in the wet.

Torque steer, that tug­ging sen­sa­tion at the wheel un­der ac­cel­er­a­tion you get in some front-driv­ers, is pre­sent at times, though it’s not a prob­lem.

VER­DICT

If you add the $1300 safety op­tion, the Es­cape Trend is one of the best value buys in this ul­tra-com­pet­i­tive class and an A-grade kid car­rier. Its 1.5-litre turbo is also a stronger, more flex­i­ble en­gine in daily driv­ing than the nat­u­rally as­pi­rated fours in most ri­vals.

And you don’t have to tell any­body you drive a Kuga.

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