Kuga’s a good sport
CRAMMED with equipment and extra styling features the Kuga ST-line offers Titanium levels of equipment with extra styling and a sports suspension that is popular with younger drivers of the Ford SUV.
Along with the rest of the range it received a major refresh at the start of this year and although the changes were not dramatic they were necessary to keep the Kuga in contention with newcomers to the SUV/ crossover pack.
As a result the third generation model is now more spacious and comfortable and much improved on the first model that arrived back in 2008 and was an instant hit.
Now a global car, the Kuga is a big seller in numerous markets and the ST-line model offers some extra touches to give the SUV a sporty appearance.
In addition to the sports suspension the ST-line boasts a full body kit to enhance its looks, black roof rails, 19-inch dark machined alloys, unique headlight and fog light bezels as well as front parking sensors and a power opening panorama roof.
Inside, you get some extra sporting trim including aluminium pedals, red stitching, a different gear knob and enhanced active park assist.
That apart, the Kuga now has a front grille similar to that of its larger Edge sibling, and a new rump with a different tailgate which is electric in this model.
Powered by the familiar 2.0-litre diesel, this version is capable of 124mph and reaches 62mph in 10 seconds flat. It is a smooth performer when combined with the PowerShift automatic gearbox and even with all-wheel-drive the claimed combined figure is 54.3mpg.
New torque vectoring has been introduced to improve traction and stability and this means that the Kuga remains one of the best driving cars in its class.
It cruises comfortably at motorway speeds and handles the twisty stuff well and the four-wheel-drive (4WD) system means it always has loads of grip even during the recent winter weather.
Inside, the cabin feels slightly larger and there is room for five to travel in comfort with 456 litres still being available for luggage.
The old, dated infotainment system had been dumped to be replaced by the latest SYNC 3 set up which is much easier to use and has voice control, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and Bluetooth.
The ST-Line also comes with climate control, navigation, heated driver and front passenger seats, cruise control, power tailgate, a Quickclear heated windscreen, hill start assist, keyless entry, parking sensors and a raft of all the latest safety equipment.
If you wish you can add a retractable tow bar with electrics for £625. Options fitted to the car I sampled included a large rear spoiler at £200, a heated steering wheel for £125 and rear privacy glass costing £225.
Some scratchy plastics let the interior down a little bit and the touchscreen can be a bit fiddly at times but overall the Kuga is still a contender thanks to its sharp dynamics which are improved by the sports suspension.
At £34,295 this version is not the cheapest but most Ford outlets will offer decent discounts to make the car even more attractive.
TEST DRIVE FORD KUGA ST-LINE 2.0
Model: Ford Kuga ST-Line 2.0 TDCI Powershift AWD Price: £34,295 Mechanical: 180ps, 1,998cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 6-speed automatic gearbox Max speed: 124mph 0-62mph: 10 seconds Combined mpg: 54.3 Insurance group: 25 CO2 emissions: 134g/km BIK rating: 28% Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles