The Kuga came on to the scene in 2008. Built in two-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive it was Ford’s response to SUVs, such as the Nissan Qashqai. It was also built to challenge more established 4x4s, such as the Honda CR-V.
While it is no rocket ship, the Kuga 1.5T Ecoboost, on test here, does pick up pace fairly well (0-62mph in 9.7s) and feels particularly nippy around town. Its manual six-speed gearbox has a positive, smooth, action and the Ford delivers a relaxing, yet well-ordered ride at low speeds.
The steering is light and direct – and this makes city driving and parking a breeze. Alas, there is far too much din in the road and wind noise department for the Kuga to be a serious motorway vessel. Safety is first-rate, though, with side and curtain airbags helping it achieve a five-star Euro NCAP crash-test result.
Inside, the Kuga is quite spacious in the front, but its plunging roofline intrudes on headroom for taller passengers in the rear. Legroom for anyone approaching six-feet tall is also limited, however it’s a fine area for kids to sit comfortably. The 406-litre boot is bigger than the Ford Focus’ 316-litre offering – making the loading of a bulky pushchair and the weekly supermarket shopping even less of a hassle.
As alluded to earlier, the Kuga’s key rival is the Nissan Qashqai, with other opponents including the Kia Sportage and Volkswagen Tiguan. All of their boots are even bigger than the Ford’s by some margin.
In fairness, though, the Ford Kuga Zetec 1.5T EcoBoost makes a good buy. It offers a decent mix of performance and size for families looking for a school-run-mobile. It is also front-wheel-drive – and this variant is really what you should try and get, unless you are desperate for 4×4 traction and off-road ability. Front-wheel-drive Kugas are a little bit cheaper to run than the four-wheel-drive versions and, if buying used, may well have been better cared for.
The current Kuga is smart enough and has a generally reliable history, although it is starting to come over as a tad dated – but at least it’s a safe car. Fortunately, we won’t have too long to wait for a fresh Kuga. The Blue Oval hopes to fight the BMW X3 with a chicer, more elegant version of the SUV at the end of this year.