Looks – 10/10
I like the styling on the Kuga. Ford have managed to make what is a rather large vehicle look extremely sleek. The Titanium X Sport model puts the ‘S’ in SUV, and is the pick of the bunch when it comes to looks. There’s a full bodykit, which results in a lower stance at the front, with a silver plastic accent underneath the grille. To the side there are some impressive 19-inch alloys, an extension of the sporty stance through the side skirts, privacy glass to add a premium feel and some silver roof rails. At the back the silver accenting at the bottom of the bumper showcases the twin exhausts and a roof spoiler completes the sporty appearance. My test car was finished in “Magnetic” which is a new metallic colour option. Incidentally this is one of the choices available on the new Focus RS, and when it’s clean in the sun it looks sublime.
Once you open the door you are greeted by a wonderful cabin. The plush leather seats and contrast stitching are stylish. The gloss grey trim complements the exterior colour and was a nice change from the usual gloss black. The dials illuminate in a wonderful blue, and I like how the cabin has a ‘wraparound’ feel to it. My car had the SYNC system, but if you went and bought one now, you’d get the updated SYNC2 system, which is wonderful, and has a larger media screen (which is also touch operated). The panoramic roof comes as standard on the Titanium models, and is a really nice feature. The Titanium models also have ambient mood lighting throughout the cabin, and this finishes off what is a wonderful place to be.
Handling/Performance – 8/10
The engine in my test car was a 2.0-litre Duratorq diesel engine, producing an impressive 180PS and 400Nm of torque. This is sent to all 4 wheels and is available with a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic gearbox. My car had the former, and I rather liked it. 0-62mph takes 9.2 seconds and the top speed is 126mph. There’s plenty of torque available and the Kuga feels surprisingly nippy. As with all diesel engines there isn’t a great deal of power above 3,000rpm but if you use the gearbox and keep the revs in the golden 2,000-3,000rpm range and there’s no issues. On the motorway there’s plenty of overtaking oomph, and the 6-speed gearbox helps with motorway cruising.
Despite sitting on 19-inch alloys the Kuga rides surprisingly well. You can feel the bumps, but it isn’t uncomfortable. On the motorway you just waft along mile by mile; the excellent driving position and comfortable leather seats help this. On a country road you realise that Ford have an ability to design a car with an excellent chassis. The Kuga is a tall vehicle, and with that comes a little bit of lean into the corners. However with direct steering, a well-set-up suspension and AWD capability I was amazed with how it coped over the more rural routes.
Economy – 9/10
I think Ford has also done a good job in making the Kuga economical. The 2.0-litre diesel AWD model with the manual gearbox emits 135g/km CO2. That puts it in VED band E, with road tax costing £130 in the first and consecutive years. I don’t think that’s bad for a large family car, especially given it has AWD. There’s start/stop technology to help reduce emissions, and the 6-speed box helps the Kuga sip fuel at a more favourable rate on longer motorway drives.
Practicality – 10/10
I have always liked the way the Kuga looks. I think it would make a great family car, so I had high expectations when it came on test. Thankfully these were exceeded, as the Kuga is simply brilliant to live with day to day. It’s deceptively large, giving ample legroom to all passengers. What’s more with 1,603 litres of boot space with the rear seats folded you could fit a small army in the back. Maximum braked towing weight on the 180PS AWD diesel is 2,100kg making it an excellent to vehicle, and one I would consider for towing our rally car around. Then you get the standard equipment list which, on the Titanium X Sport model, is vast. Dual-zone climate control, power tailgate, cruise control, active park assist, rear-view camera and the wonderful SYNC 2 system all come as standard.
Fun – 8/10
With the amount of technology on the Kuga Titanium X Sport, it is heaps of fun. I really like Ford’s new SYNC 2 media system, which is easy to operate and copes with my iPod and its 11,000 songs no problem. For an extra £350 you can add the keyless entry with ‘hands-free’ power tailgate whereby you simply wave your foot under the rear bumper and the boot opens. Marvellous when you have your hands full of shopping bags, and also when you’re just showing off to your mates! My only issue with the Titanium X ‘Sport’ is that the performance doesn’t match the style. I think this car is crying out to have the 2.3-litree EcoBoost engine from the Focus RS in it. Make a properly hot SUV. Now that I would buy.
After spending a week with the Ford Kuga, I have to admit I’m rather sold on it. I’d definitely pick the Titanium X Sport, as the styling is the best of the bunch. The standard kit is plentiful, although you can add a few options if you so wish. A Titanium X Sport with the 2.0-litre 180PS engine in manual AWD will set you back £32,345. That does sound a lot, but this is a lot of car. I do hope they do a hot version of this in the coming years, as I think it would go down well. For more information visit your local dealer or log on to the Ford website. And I’ll leave you with this. The Ford Kuga Titanium X Sport; a car for ‘Daddy Cool’.
Total Score – 45/50