In terms of size, as a sport util­ity ve­hi­cle, the Kuga is on the smaller side of the spec­trum, but things are quite dif­fer­ent when it comes to its tow­ing abil­ity.

In terms of size, as a sport util­ity ve­hi­cle, the Kuga is on the smaller side of the spec­trum, but things are quite dif­fer­ent when it comes to its tow­ing abil­ity.

Go! Camp & Drive - - Contents - Text and pho­tos Leon Botha

Un­til re­cently Ford had their hands full with the Kuga de­ba­cle. The man­u­fac­turer claims it has fixed the prob­lem and has up­dated the cur­rent mod­els. That in­cludes tech­nol­ogy like bet­ter pro­tec­tion for pedes­tri­ans in case of an ac­ci­dent, roll sta­bil­ity con­trol, and a rear-view cam­era – all stan­dard on new mod­els. The lat­est ver­sion of Ford’s MyKey tech­nol­ogy also forms part of the up­grade. With this you can, for ex­am­ple, limit your top speed and turn the sound sys­tem’s vol­ume off un­til ev­ery pas­sen­ger in the Kuga puts on their seat belts.

Small en­gines: The way of the fu­ture

You have a choice be­tween two en­gine sizes: 1,5 ℓ petrol or a 2 ℓ diesel or petrol. The top model diesel kicks out an im­pres­sive 400 Nm and you’re not go­ing to strug­gle go­ing up­hill with a car­a­van. For the tow test we sac­ri­ficed the torque be­cause we got be­hind the wheel of the 1,5 ℓ. Be­sides the 160 Nm less torque, this model also doesn’t have all-wheel drive – only front-wheel drive. By the way, all the petrol mod­els’ tow­ing ca­pac­ity is fixed at 1 600 kg and 200 kg more for the diesel mod­els. The 1,5 ℓ is by no means an in­fe­rior tow­ing ve­hi­cle. Thirty years ago, tow­ing a medium-sized car­a­van with a 1,5 ℓ petrol en­gine was un­heard of. But ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­tur­ers started de­sign­ing smaller and stronger en­gines. Take, for ex­am­ple, the erst­while Toy­ota Cres­sida Gli-6: In the mid-Eight­ies this six-cylin­der 2 ℓ en­gine was a de­cent ma­chine but it only pro­duced 162 Nm. That’s about a third less than the 1,5 ℓ Kuga, whose en­gine is also a quar­ter smaller. In those days a V6 3ℓ in front of a car­a­van was what you wanted. No­body would have been able to fault a Ford Sierra XR-6 as a tow­ing ve­hi­cle. If you com­pare the XR-6 en­gine and the Kuga’s 1,5 ℓ, it’s an­other prime ex­am­ple of how man­u­fac­tur­ers are now build­ing smaller and stronger en­gines. The XR-6’s en­gine de­liv­ered 237 Nm and the Kuga’s slightly bet­ter with its 240 Nm. The en­gine is, there­fore, half the size with the same torque. The Kuga’s tur­bocharger does lend a hand, though.

The tow­ing fig­ures

The test ve­hi­cle was fit­ted with a Oris re­mov­able tow bar. The 1 600 kg that the Kuga is al­lowed to tow is in line with its tare weight (1 660 kg). That means you’re al­lowed to legally tow most of the car­a­vans on the mar­ket. The weight that the tow bar is al­lowed to carry on the ball also meets the law’s min­i­mum al­lowed weight of 100 kg. As a rule it’s ad­vis­able to try to get a car­a­van’s nose as close to 100 kg as pos­si­ble, but it’s not al­ways pos­si­ble with smaller car­a­vans. In such a case, pack most of your load in front in the car­a­van. It helps com­bat sway should the car­a­van fol­low its own head when you’re driv­ing faster. Ford rec­om­mends a min­i­mum nose weight of 4% of the car­a­van’s weight. Dur­ing the test the Ro­many tipped the scale at 1 060 kg. That means a nose weight of 42,4 kg or more. >

Ford’s 1 600 kg tow­ing ca­pac­ity limit is quite high for a car of this size, but the tow bar tube (50 mm x 70 mm) can han­dle it. Its D-value – the weight at which the tow bar’s tow­ing ca­pac­ity test was done – is 11 kN (1 122 kg). The ball is 47 cm above the ground and a good cou­pler height for stan­dard car­a­vans. Be­cause the tow bar’s re­mov­able part is of the goose neck va­ri­ety, you won’t be able to fit a drop plate. It’s also very im­por­tant to ad­just the tyre pres­sure when you tow; es­pe­cially the rear tyres. Ford rec­om­mends a 0,2 bar higher pres­sure ver­sus the pre­scribed 2,8 bar. The rear tyres should there­fore be 3 bar, but it goes with­out say­ing that this ex­tra pres­sure shouldn’t ex­ceed the spe­cific tyre’s max­i­mum pres­sure. The test ve­hi­cle was fit­ted with Con­ti­nen­tal Con­tiS­portCon­tact 235/50 R18 tyres with a max­i­mum pres­sure of 3,5 bar.

Pure in­dul­gence

The Kuga’s tail­gate is sim­i­lar to most other sport util­ity ve­hi­cles’ and opens up­wards. That’s all fine and dandy but not all of them close that eas­ily. With some you strug­gle be­cause there isn’t any­thing to grab hold of when you need to pull the door down. In terms of this, the Kuga is ahead of the game be­cause it has a round bar to the right in the door that you can eas­ily grip. The two front doors’ in­side han­dles look sim­i­lar, and it’s a clever de­sign. This model is R70 000 shy of half a million, and you can see the frills when you open the door: From the elec­tri­cally ad­justable driver seat to the beam an­gle of the lights with no less than nine set­tings. The steer­ing wheel looks like it would be at home in a Boe­ing’s cabin. You lit­er­ally can’t fit more but­tons on it: From the stan­dard radio set­tings right through to the lane as­sist and even gear pad­dles that stick out like ears be­hind the wheel. The dash­board has four ana­logue me­ters. The rev counter is on the left, with the speedome­ter on the other side and the fuel and tem­per­a­ture gauges smaller and in the mid­dle at the bot­tom. The com­puter screen is above the smaller me­ters and has the same amount of de­tail as the steer­ing wheel. You can choose be­tween a num­ber of screens de­pend­ing on what info you want to see. There’s also a screen with com­pre­hen­sive info that shows every­thing at once: From the odome­ter, the av­er­age and cur­rent fuel con­sump­tion, and how many kilo­me­tres you can still travel be­fore the tank is empty. Ford takes seat belt safety se­ri­ously. The com­puter knows when some­one is sit­ting on a seat and is not buck­led in and even sounds an alarm when some­one un­buck­les while the car is mov­ing. A graph­ics dis­play­ing all the seats will show who is and who isn’t wear­ing their seat belt. Two USB sock­ets are hid­den away in the com­part­ment be­tween the two front seats, and there’s a 12 V socket at the gear lever. Be­hind the com­part­ment – where the rear pas­sen­gers are – is an­other 230 V socket. Where the 12 V socket uses a 180 W fuse, the rear socket is re­stricted to 150 W. That means its safe to plug in a cell­phone or tablet charger but your daugh­ter’s hair dryer will mean the end of the socket’s fuse. So don’t just plug in any equip­ment here. Ford also warns to not plug in tube TVs, vac­uum clean­ers, com­pres­sor-driven freez­ers or elec­tric blan­kets.

(So you can’t snug­gle un­der your elec­tric blan­ket watch­ing TV and vac­u­um­ing while you wait for an ice-cold beer. – Ed)

The re­verse screen in the Kuga looks ex­actly like the one Ford uses in the Ranger bakkie. It has in­dex lines that show the line in which you’re re­vers­ing. In the mid­dle – be­tween the two out­side lines – is a dot­ted line that in­di­cates the mid­dle of the lane. You can use this to re­verse ac­cu­rately if you aim the dot­ted line at the car­a­van’s cou­pler. Just like the Ranger, the lines dis­ap­pear once you’ve hitched a car­a­van; the Kuga, there­fore, knows you’re about to tow. When you con­nect the car­a­van’s light plug a note flashes on the dash­board say­ing the blind spot sen­sors will be switched off be­cause of the car­a­van on the tow bar. When you re­verse, the rear sen­sors still sound, but you can switch it off. The kids each have a tray ta­ble that folds out from the back of the front seats. A cup­sized round hole will pre­vent spills when dad slams the brakes un­ex­pect­edly.

I love the grille that Ford puts on their ve­hi­cles these days; that counts for the Kuga as well. The driver seat is elec­tri­cally ad­justable. I like sit­ting high and you can set this one sur­pris­ingly high. In­side, the Kuga is painfully neat and you get a sense of dura­bil­ity that you usu­ally as­so­ciate with German ve­hi­cles. When the car wants to bring some­thing to your at­ten­tion, it sim­ply shows a sym­bol on the dash­board. It also shows a typed out mes­sage like “pas­sen­ger door open”. It makes your life eas­ier be­cause you know ex­actly what the prob­lem is. The in­for­ma­tion on the screen is com­pre­hen­sive, and be­sides all the stan­dard read­ings – like the cur­rent fuel con­sump­tion – the com­puter also warns you when you’ve been driv­ing for too long and then sug­gests you take a break.

The Kuga is sur­pris­ingly quiet in­side; you don’t even hear the en­gine. The model is ba­si­cally full-house and you’re spoiled with all the lux­u­ries. Yet you can’t see in which gear the au­to­matic gear­box is. If you use the pad­dle shifts, though, it does show you what gear you’re chang­ing to. The re­verse screen is a bit deep in the panel, es­pe­cially at the bot­tom. And this is the spot where you have to press the screen so it makes it a bit un­com­fort­able. The 1,5 ℓ en­gine is small, but with the 240 Nm the ac­cel­er­a­tion doesn’t dis­ap­point. The gear­box changes fast, but there’s a slight hes­i­ta­tion when you put your foot down. Its Lane Keep As­sist works well. When you come too close to the white or yel­low line, the com­puter lightly ad­justs the steer­ing so you don’t cross the line. You can’t, how­ever, hand over full con­trol to the Kuga, be­cause as soon as you take your hands off the wheel, the com­puter will give you a warn­ing. It takes time get­ting used to the front-wheel drive, and you feel it specif­i­cally where you put your foot down in a turn and the en­gine pulls the steer­ing for­ward. The Kuga has disc brakes on all wheels, which means hav­ing to stop quickly is not a prob­lem. I like the Kuga and would buy one.

HEAD TURNER. The new Kuga’s neat lines, stylish al­loys, dom­i­nant grille up front and jewel-like head- and tail lamps are def­i­nitely eye-catch­ing. A tow­ing mir­ror also fits ef­fort­lessly onto the side mir­rors if you’re go­ing to haul a car­a­van that’s...

TURN LEFT NOW. The satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion dis­play is large and clear, but sits a lit­tle too deep in the fas­cia re­cess to make easy ad­just­ments. The dig­i­tal screen be­tween the ana­logue di­als dis­plays im­por­tant in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing your jour­ney, such as...

CHECK THIS OUT. The rear door has a prac­ti­cal han­dle to make it eas­ier to pull it down to the closed po­si­tion. Be­hind the front seats a fold­down tray ta­ble just like those you would find on an air­plane pro­vides a handy space to keep your drink and a...

FINGERTIP FRENZY. You’ll have to spend some time fa­mil­iaris­ing your­self with the all the but­tons on the mul­ti­func­tion steer­ing wheel.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.