Look­ing past the neg­a­tive pub­lic­ity

LONG-TERM FLEET/ The Mo­tor News team bids farewell to the Ford Kuga long-term test car, writes Ler­ato Matebese

Business Day - Motor News - - MOTOR NEWS -

Once again, the time has come for us to bid farewell to two of our long-term test cars — the Ford Kuga TDCI you see here and the Renault Me­gane GT.

We have spo­ken about the fire con­tro­versy sur­round­ing the Kuga ex­ten­sively, so we can firmly park that topic this time around as we look at the mer­its that still make the model one of the great pack­ages in its seg­ment. Over the past six months that we’ve had the model in our garage it has proved to be a ver­sa­tile, com­fort­able and par­tic­u­larly eco­nom­i­cal ve­hi­cle, av­er­ag­ing a con­sis­tent con­sump­tion fig­ure of 7.7l/100km.

The dual-clutch six-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion may not be the slick­est in the seg­ment, but it gets the job done and is rel­a­tively smooth.

Just as the odome­ter turned over the 10,000km mark, the ve­hi­cle was due for an oil change as is the case with most diesel cars, but alas we did not have suf­fi­cient time to book the ve­hi­cle in for this ex­er­cise as our time with the Kuga had drawn to a close. How­ever, we have it on good ac­count that this will be cov­ered by the model’s stan­dard six-year/90,000km ser­vice plan and no cost will be in­curred by the owner.

Per­son­ally, though, what con­tin­ues to impress with most Ford prod­ucts is the level of stan­dard equip­ment, whether it be safety or tech­nol­ogy, and our top tier Kuga model is no ex­cep­tion. All the driver aids such lane keep as­sist and au­ton­o­mous brak­ing were put to the test and are ex­tremely use­ful es­pe­cially in coun­ter­ing the ac­tions of other dis­tracted driv­ers, which in the age of smart­phones and the like, re­mains a daily oc­cur­rence.

How­ever, the ver­sa­til­ity and prac­ti­cal­ity as a family-ori­ented ve­hi­cle is where the model ex­cels the most. Both my chil­dren and their ac­com­pa­ny­ing para­pher­na­lia were swal­lowed up with rel­a­tive ease in­clud­ing items such as child seats, a baby stroller, pic­nic bas­kets, changes of clothes and all that in­volves trav­el­ling with kids.

I also par­tic­u­larly en­joyed the 240V point lo­cated in the rear quar­ters cen­tre con­sole, which came in handy for charg­ing up my lap­top, and you could also use it to plug in a tablet to en­ter­tain the kids while on the move, as editor Mark did over the fes­tive sea­son.

The seg­ment in which the Kuga com­petes is awash with var­i­ous op­tions and one can ar­gue that it is even over­sub­scribed, the buyer be­ing truly spoiled for choice in this re­gard, and one needs to look closely at what each ad­vo­cate in the seg­ment has to of­fer at the price.

What we have gleaned from spend­ing time with the Kuga is that it re­mains one of the best propo­si­tions in the seg­ment, a shin­ing bea­con for the brand and one of the most com­plete family ve­hi­cles on the mar­ket.

Hav­ing to bid farewell to a ve­hi­cle with such mer­its will leave the team a lit­tle poorer as the ve­hi­cle per­formed ex­cep­tion­ally well.

Its non­cha­lant, easy-go­ing dis­po­si­tion is what we will miss the most and we can only hope that the buy­ing pub­lic will see be­yond the neg­a­tive ve­neer of its pre-facelift model as it de­serves a sec­ond look if you are buy­ing in this seg­ment.

WHAT CON­TIN­UES TO IMPRESS IS THE LEVEL OF STAN­DARD EQUIP­MENT, WHETHER IT BE SAFETY OR TECH­NOL­OGY

The Ford Kuga has proven it­self well over six months but it’s rep­u­ta­tion is pos­si­bly too dam­aged. Left: The in­te­rior is spa­cious and com­fort­able and the level of stan­dard equip­ment is su­perb.

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