Ford Kuga petrol

New Zealand Company Vehicle - - Contents -

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.

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