Kuga’s a good sport

Warwickshire Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE - By John Mur­doch

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

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