Ford’s European business is not really going well and the current development is anything but rosy. It’s a good thing that the carmaker has a new hope in store: the third Kuga generation. The compact SUV, which celebrated its premiere almost a year ago, has been running quite successfully under the Escape name for months in the USA and, according to preliminary plans, is also waiting for customers from German dealers from the end of April. It has to invest at least 26,300 euros, but it should rarely remain.
If you order the basic model, you get an infotainment touchscreen, cruise control and manual air conditioning, but otherwise only a few convenience extras. There are LED headlights, WiFi hotspot, an electrically operated tailgate, the practical door edge protection that automatically extends when opened, and unfortunately there are also most assistants (including ghost driver warners, evasive assistants, blind spot monitors and traffic jam assistants) only in the higher versions. Ford has put together six more equipment lines; there are four option packages; there are only a few extras to be selected separately.
It is not enough to stream
You also have to dig deeper into your pocket for the Kuga we drove in the first test with EcoBlue hybrid diesel. It starts in the Cool – & – Connect version at 32,600 euros. You get a two-liter four-cylinder diesel that mobilizes 150 hp and 370 Nm of torque and is supported by a belt starter generator operated with 48 volts. The electric motor, which replaces the conventional alternator, contributes up to 16 HP and 50 Newton meters, especially when starting off.
This is not enough for electricity, but should relieve the burner. The Kuga is really strong and the standard consumption is just over five liters. However, the Ford quickly runs out of steam at higher speeds. The brisk-feeling sprint to 100 km / h takes 9.6 seconds after the clock and the mild hybrid can run at a maximum of 175 km / h, then the speed is reduced. Another shortcoming of the diesel hybrid is that it is only available with a somewhat gristy six-speed manual transmission. The conventional diesel with 120 HP and 190 HP is also available with an eight-speed automatic. This is standard with the top models, and the diesel, which costs at least € 39,500, always comes with all-wheel drive.
All other Kugas currently give their power to the road via the front wheels. At least on the gasoline side, Ford plans to add more soon: A full hybrid announced for the end of the year (without socket connection, but with a low electric range) is to become a 4×4 model with an additional electric motor on the rear axle. A plug-in hybrid (from 39,300 euros) has been available right from the start, and its combination of four-cylinder petrol engine and electric motor releases 204 hp and is to come 56 kilometers with its electric drive. Also in the price list: two three-cylinder petrol-only engines with 120 HP and 150 HP.
Chassis is always great
No matter which engine you choose: the chassis is always great. Well-coordinated, as is typical of Ford, and thanks to the new platform up to 90 kilograms lighter than its predecessor, the new Kuga lies well on the road and can be moved dynamically. It’s a shame that the comfortable, large seats offer so little lateral support, otherwise you could force the SUV, which grew nine centimeters to 4.61 meters, into the curves even more ambitiously. The new Kuga can collect points on the long-haul route: Despite all its sporting talents, the substructure irons the road properly and smoothly, and the Kuga is also impressive in terms of running culture; the hybrid diesel only growls vigorously under full load.
A quiet grumble should also escape one or the other after getting in. The Kuga is clearly and neatly processed and there is enough space not only in the front, but also on the sliding rear seat. However, you do not enter an oasis of wellbeing: the controllers have implemented plenty of hard plastic in the selection of materials, and the lining of the 475 to 1534 liter trunk looks quite cheap.
In addition, the new infotainment system, which has at least left the status of mouse cinema behind, is by no means oversized with 8 inches. And it feels like the screen on the dashboard looks more towards the passenger. And then the head-up display. Ford relies on a fold-out plastic pane behind the steering wheel, which, above all, shows the relevant data to large drivers on the hood instead of in front of the car.
On the other hand, the digital instrument cluster reserved for the higher equipment is perfect, the display of which adapts to the various driving programs (normal, eco, sport, slippery and an off-road mode). And the new design is also impressive: Ford has turned the rather inconspicuous SUV into an eye-catcher in a tight sports suit that even looks a bit like Porsche from the front.