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Ford Kuga

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Ford Escape/Kuga
8/10

Latest
Road Test

Ford Kuga Titanium driven

Driven August 2012

Additional Info

It's called the Escape in the US, but this is what the all-new Kuga is going to look like when it hits the UK. It might appear nigh-on identical to the outgoing model, but gaze a little longer, and you'll see the emphasis has been changed. Now lower, narrower, longer, but with the same wheelbase as before, it feels less boisterous, more mature in all its actions and specification. More mini-MPV than shrunken SUV.

But that's no bad thing. It still has the option of 4WD if you want it, and it looks similarly purposeful. So there's no cosmetic reason to shy away from it. And there are plenty of other reasons to draw you in.

The cabin quality on this Titanium (top-spec) model was nothing short of excellent. Particularly the instruments, which are better - way better - than some Audi dashes I've sat behind lately. OK, you might feel like you need orang-utan-length arms to easily access the main touchscreen.

But it almost doesn't matter. With the upgraded Sync voice-control system, you don't really need to touch it at all. Just press the steering-wheel-mounted button and say what you want to happen, and, 99 times out of 100, it does. That's a first for me.

As is the tailgate opener. As long as you have the key fob in your pocket, you just wave your foot under the middle of the rear bumper and the boot opens - or closes - automatically. A few cars have this feature now, but I've only seen it on a Merc, and it didn't work as well as this system.

Engine choice in the US is a 1.6- or 2.0-litre direct-injection turbocharged EcoBoost unit. In the UK, it will be the same 1.6-litre petrol engine and a version of the current 2.0-litre turbodiesel. So, no surprises there.

The handling is equally efficient. There was a little more body roll in our 4WD test car than we remember from UK-spec Kugas, but otherwise it has the same Ford fluency we've come to expect. Great grip, ride and handling, plus nicely weighted steering and controls that turn what is often a chore into a pleasure.

Combine all that with an easily reconfigurable interior and supportive seats, and it doesn't matter what this car is called. It's a winner.

Pat Devereux

The numbers
2000cc, 4cyl, FWD, 240bhp, 270lb ft, 26.0mpg, n/a g/km CO2, 0-62mph in 7.5secs, 120mph, 1590kg

The cost
$36,000 (£23,172)

The verdict
Next version of Kuga gets better kit and higher-quality materials. Ford gives the Germans a headache.

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