First Drive: Ford Kuga

When Ford launched its popular Kuga back in 2008, it saw success in the small SUV market, with the second-generation model debuting in 2013.

In the following two years, European sales of the C-Segment model totalled 187,200.

First Drive: Ford Kuga

First Drive: Ford Kuga

And now for 2017, Ford has launched a new Kuga, complete with exciting new technology and styling.

AOL Cars took to the extremes of the Arctic Circle to find out if the Kuga can cope as well in the wilderness as its mammalian namesake, the cougar.

What is it?

The Kuga is Ford's small SUV offering and comes in a variety of trims and engine options.

We got behind the wheel of the ST-Line Kuga, which costs from £29,554 on the road. This model sits second highest on the spec list, below the luxury Vignale trim. These trims are both available for the first time on the new Kuga.

With a full body styling kit and sports suspension, the ST-Line is aimed at drivers wanting a sportier feel from their Kuga. Coupled with the 2.0-litre, 178bhp TDCi engine, this is as close a performance-orientated SUV as Ford gets.

What's under the bonnet?

The 2.0-litre TDCi AWD Diesel powertrain is coupled to a six-speed manual transmission, producing 178bhp and 400Nm of torque.

Through this slick gearbox, the Kuga can accelerate to 60mph in nine seconds, before continuing all the way to 126mph.

A combined economy of 54.3mpg is seen, while the car produces 135g/km of CO2.

What's the spec like?

Standard spec on the ST-Line Kuga is ample. Ford's SYNC3 system is housed on an aesthetically appealing centre console, with a defined eight-inch touchscreen and the novel addition of a CD player. The driver can control and adjust every aspect of the SYNC3 media system via voice commands.

This system is more responsive than the previous guise, and is compatible with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, allowing extra connectivity to the car.

Ford's Active Park Assist and Park-Out Assist also feature on the model. These systems aid the driver in steering in and out of tricky spots, while the driver remains in control of the accelerator, brake and gears.

An adaptive front lighting signature features on the higher-spec model. This monitors and adjusts the vehicle's beam according to a number of conditions, including its speed, steering angle and distance to a vehicle in front. A weather-dependent lighting mode automatically adjusts the beam to help the driver spot roadside hazards in heavy rain.

Any rivals?

Rivals to the Kuga include the Hyundai Tucson, Nissan Qashqai and Kia Sportage.

What's it like to drive?

The Kuga managed surprisingly well in the Arctic Circle, with the icy roads proving no issue for Ford's intuitive All-Wheel Drive system. This system works by varying torque to each wheel in order to correct any skids.

ABS also kicked in under heavy braking on the slippery roads on more than one occasion, each time managing to bring the vehicle to a safe, controlled stop.

At motorway speeds, the Kuga was comfortable and the steering was light yet well-weighted. Road and wind noise is present, because of the bulky front end, but it isn't loud enough to prove irritating.

The sports suspension of the ST-Line gives the car a firm yet agile feel, and as such it dealt well with body roll.

AOL Cars verdict

Despite having proved its capabilities on the treacherous terrain of Finland and Norway, the Kuga is still very much a car in which to take the kids to school. It's comfortable, spacious and an easy drive. Nonetheless, should more adventurous activities be in mind, buyers can rest assured that the Kuga will rise to the challenges and complete them with impressive ease.

However, despite its impressive array of standard equipment, the Kuga ST-Line is very much the sporty option. Drivers looking for a capable all-rounder would be better suited to the middling Titanium or cheaper Zetec trim Kuga.


Model: Ford Kuga ST-Line
Price: £29,554
Engine: 2.0-litre TDCi Diesel, six-speed manual AWD
Power: 178bhp
0-60mph: 9 seconds
Max speed: 126mph
Economy: 54.3mpg
Emissions: 135g/km