Ford Kuga petrol
The new top-spec petrol-powered Ford Kuga Titanium has a lot going for it, writes Damien O’Carroll – but he came away with mixed feelings.
On the outside the Ford Kuga is handsome and distinctive, with lots of nice little details, such as the bonnet strakes, and it has a lot of road presence, while not actually being all that big.
Inside, the distinctive Ford family interior works well, is of a high quality and everything is exactly where you instinctively think it should be.
Under the bonnet the 134kW/240Nm 1.6-litre EcoBoost is an impressively strong unit that pulls like a larger engine and has good power off the line. Remarkable power, considering the relatively tiny capacity.
Like its larger two-litre sibling we have previously sampled in the fantastic Focus ST and Falcon, as well as cars such as the Jaguar XF, Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Freelander, the 1.6-litre EcoBoost is a remarkably powerful and flexible engine for its deceptively small capacity.
But it is also here that the petrol-powered Kuga’s biggest downside comes into play; it is remarkably thirsty for a small engine. Even for a big one.
The whole time we had the Kuga we drove it in a similar fashion to the Toyota RAV4 we had at the same time. While the 2.5-litre Toyota returned a decent 8.5L/100km average, the Ford refused to go any lower than a thirsty 11.8L/100km.
Fuel consumption concerns aside, the Kuga has a comfortable, pliable ride that is never anything less than utterly composed. It has a light, chuckable feel to it, and great steering weight and response.
In short, it feels like a Focus. A noticeably soft, slightly top-heavy one, it must be said, but it is still a nice steer. The six-speed dual- clutch transmission is a slick shifter, but has a habit of being slightly slow-witted and easily caught out, meaning it does hamper enthusiastic driving somewhat.
The Kuga Titanium certainly is an impressively specced, attractive, comfortable car. It ticks all the right boxes on paper, and with its convincingly low price, would seem to be the no-brainer pick in the segment.
Except it’s not quite that easy in this particular hugely competitive corner of the market. The decision is made even cloudier by the fact that, while the Ford certainly looks to be a clear winner on paper, in reality things don’t come together quite so well...
While the idea of a small, powerful EcoBoost engine sounds good, in practice the little 1.6 is asked to do quite a lot. The result is an engine that struggles to return decent fuel consumption figures.
Other than this, the Kuga is an enjoyable little package, with a quality interior and a modern, sexy exterior. The huge amount of specification and sheer quality may be enough to overcome the surprising fuel usage for a lot of people. For others, the fuel usage will be enough to put them off. Still, it is definitely worth consideration. And there IS a diesel version.