In the past, if you wanted a crossover that was great to drive, theFord Kuga was the default choice. But as Ford’s SUV has gone more upmarket with the current generation car, the Kuga lost a touch of its on-road fun in the quest for a more premium image.
However, according to the Blue Oval it’s worked, as customer demand for the Titanium X trim level has been so strong that it’s added a new range topper – the Titanium X Sport. We took the 178bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel version for a spin to find out what it’s like.
The answer is not quite as quick as we were expecting. With torque now raised to 400Nm the Kuga sprints from 0-62mph in 9.2 seconds. But compared to a 1.6 dCi Nissan Qashqai with just 128bhp and 320Nm, the Ford is only 0.7 seconds faster over the benchmark sprint.
But there’s more to the Kuga than its out-right performance. The Ford is still good to drive, with light but precise steering and surprising agility for such a big car – the Kuga weighs 1,702kg after all.
Push harder on country roads and the high-riding Ford’s body will roll, but thanks to the Ford’s four-wheel drive system (it comes as standard here) there’s lots of reassuring grip for extra peace of mind in tough conditions. However, it’s still not as fun nor as talented as the previous version – or some of its rivals, which at this level are very capable.
Despite running on large 19-inch wheels the ride is supple on most roads, although bad surfaces do make the Kuga feel a touch fidgety. Refinement on the whole is good – the engine is hushed even when cold and there’s not much wind noise at motorway speeds.
For the price you’d expect it, too. The top-spec Kuga’s cabin does feel very plush and premium, and Titanium X Sport trim gets a full leather interior with electrically adjustable, heated front seats, sat-nav, a panoramic sunroof, DAB radio and a rear-view camera.
There’s also a big body kit, including deeper front and rear bumpers with bright silver inserts, chunky side skirts and a rear spoiler to give the SUV an extra injection of sporty styling, although the brasher looks won’t be to everybody’s tastes.
Still, you can’t fault the Ford for practicality thanks to a 406-litre boot, rising to 1,603 litres with the rear seats folded. The interior is spacious with lots of storage, too, and despite its high-power 2.0 turbodiesel engine and four-wheel drive system, the Kuga is also efficient.
Ford claims it’ll return 54.3mpg, while emitting 135g/km CO2 – that’s not far off many of its less powerful rivals and means the most potent diesel Kuga will cost £130 to tax.
Our test car came with lots of options, including metallic paint (£795), blind spot warning (£525), a powered boot lid that opens by waving your foot under the rear bumper at £325, Ford’s £625 detachable tow bar and the £550 driver assistance package that adds autonomous braking, lane keep assist, traffic sign recognition and automatic high beam headlights.
This takes the price of the Kuga Titanium X Sport to a whopping £34,890, which puts the Kuga firmly in the Audi Q5 and BMW X3’s territory. Both of its German rivals come with a similar level of kit, four-wheel drive and powerful 2.0-litre diesel engines, but crucially for some, more kerb appeal thanks to the posher badges.
It’s here where the Kuga Titanium X Sport falls down. There’s a lot on offer, but at £2,950 more than the Titanium X model – which also comes well-equipped – we’d recommend saving some extra cash and going for a less powerful front-wheel drive Kuga. It’s better value for money.
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