Engine capacity: 2.0-litre 4 cylinder turbo diesel
Power Output (bhp @ rpm): 161 @ 3,750
Top Speed (mph): 123
0-60 mph (seconds): 9.9
Fuel economy (mpg): 47.9
CO2 emissions (g/km): 154
This is the all-new Ford Kuga and, unlike most cars which manufacturers claim to be “all-new”, this one really is. Aside from its ridiculous name (it’s either a misspelling of a predatory animal or a predatory older woman) the Kuga is actually rather different from the model it replaces, which is odd, because the old Kuga only launched in 2008.
Part of the reason for this is that, unlike the previous model, the new Kuga has been designed under the Orwellian-sounding One Ford global car policy and will be sold throughout the world in the same form.
Dig deeper and you’ll see that it’s American Soccer Moms who are wagging the dog – the Kuga will be sold as the Escape in America, replacing the ponderous but popular old Escape. Hence the need for more space – the European model was just too small for American tastes – so it’s now 81mm longer and has plenty of room in the back for a set of tall adults to enjoy their Wendy’s burgers from the drive-thru. The boot has grown by 97 litres to a massive 456 litres, too – that’s a lot of room for Soccer Moms to pack away their shopping on the way back from practise.
The car is more subtly styled than the old Kuga, too, with a less distinctive nose and a less pert rear end. If you were being cruel, you could say it’s rather identikit and has been styled by the numbers.
Thanks to the extra size, the ride is supple, there’s little body roll and the diesel unit I tested – there’s also a 148bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine available – gives plenty of pull to push into and out of corners. It’s quiet, too, aside from a rather gruff rumble on start-up. It has lost some of the driving fun of older Fords, though.
So the Yanks have come along and messed up one of our cars, then? Not quite. It sits pretty favourably alongside many sub-£30k small SUVs on the market like the Nissan Qashqai and VW Tiguan, but probably isn’t as fun or rapid to drive as the newer Mazda CX-5.
And thanks to its dose of American steroids, it even compares well to larger SUVs like the Kia Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe. The real bonus is that it is spec-for-spec £1,000 cheaper than the old model. So what did the Americans get in exchange? The Ford Fiesta – which now sells there – is probably the best small car in the world right now and is Britain’s best-selling car month-in, month-out. I can’t help but thinking they got the better deal.