Unfortunately, towards the end of its lifecycle, things went very wrong and a particular issue with a specific model spread like wild… well, you know the story. Now though, Ford South Africa has introduced the revised Kuga and are adamant that history won’t repeat itself this time around.
The previous Kuga was never an ugly car, in fact it still looks good today, until you park it next to the latest version of course. Visually, the new Kuga falls in-line with Ford’s corporate SUV look, and features a new trapezoidal grille, redesigned front and rear bumpers, sculpted headlights with integrated daytime running LEDs, creased bonnet, updated taillights, new alloy designs and a new tailgate. Overall, I really do like the look of the car. It comes across as more attractive and less cluttered styling-wise than before.
Speaking of cluttered, the previous Kuga featured a dashboard that I’m convinced was taken from the set of the film, Apollo 11. It had so many buttons that I dared not even change the radio station when I got in.
Thankfully, this new model features Ford’s latest SYNC 3 infotainment system which includes a eight-inch touchscreen display with optional navigation. This means that there are now only a few, easy to use buttons on the dash. I did however find that the system takes some getting used to, especially when you try to scroll through the numerous menus while on the move.
The overall design and look of the instrument cluster looks near identical to the model it replaces, and for the most part is trimmed in good quality plastics. Under the centre armrest, I found two USB ports as well as a removable tray which will easily hold a smartphone.
As before, the new Kuga remains a practical option. Rear passengers can expect ample head and leg room and thanks to the almost flat floor, you can get three people in the second row. In terms of boot space, Ford claims a total volume of 1 603-litres with the rear seats folded down. On the top spec Titanium model I drove, the boot latch is also electric and as before, can be opened by simply swiping your foot underneath the bumper.
At launch, I got to drive two of the seven derivatives on offer; the 132kW/240Nm automatic-only front-wheel drive 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol, and the Powershift dual-clutch gearbox fitted 2.0-litre TDCi turbodiesel with 132kW/400Nm and all-wheel drive.
Those wanting to shift gears themselves can still opt for a albeit less powerful version of the 1.5-litre EcoBoost with 110kW/240 Nm, while the range also includes a 2.0-litre EcoBoost with 177kW/340Nm and all-wheel drive.
While not many people buy these cars for their thrilling ride quality, it is pleasing to report that the Kuga is pretty sharp on the road. As the launch took place in the Eastern Cape, I got to drive the Kuga on some very tight and twisty back roads.
The front-wheel drive 1.5 EcoBoost model did feel slightly unsettled at times when pushed through the corners, but the AWD 2.0 TDCi was just fantastic; it definitely inspired more confidence. On the highway and out of hooligan mode, both cars returned a comfortable ride, in spite of the Titanium’s 19-inch alloy wheels.
Despite Ford South Africa’s recent complications regarding the previous Kuga, this new model is set to right a wrong. They have implemented a host of new programs to assist customers with existing Kuga models, as well as introduce the latest model at a lower price than the outgoing model.
Warranty and service
All Kuga models come standard with a four-year/120 000km warranty, a five-year/90 000km service plan on TDCi models, and a four-year/80 000km service plan on EcoBoost versions.
Kuga 1.5 EcoBoost Ambiente - R368 800
Kuga 1.5 EcoBoost Ambiente AT - R381 900
Kuga 1.5 EcoBoost Trend - R406 400
Kuga 1.5 EcoBoost Trend AT - R427 900
Kuga 2.0 EcoBoost Titanium AWD AT - R497 900
Kuga 2.0 TDCi Trend AWD Powershift - R483 900
Kuga 2.0 TDCi Titanium AWD Powershift - R506 900