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Upmarket new Ford Kuga chases BMW

By raccars Published

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The blue oval brand has made no secret of its premium ambitions, hence the posh new Ford Kuga.

Ford's Vignale premium sub-brand has made it clear in which direction the mainstream manufacturer sees itself heading. Now it seems that Ford has chosen to expand those premium ambitions beyond the Vignale experience, revealing a smart new Ford Kuga which quite obviously has the BMW X3 in its sights.

Ford Kuga seen in LA as the Escape

Due to go on sale towards the end of the year, the Kuga facelift was first seen in the US in November, when Ford unveiled its new Escape model at the LA Motor Show. The Escape is the American equivalent of Europe's Kuga model so it was pretty clear to industry watchers that Ford had an update in store for the Kuga too. Although a public debut has been planned for the Geneva Motor Show next month, Ford has already released picture and specification details.

SYNC 3

In addition to the sophisticated new styling, the main news is the inclusion in the new Kuga of Ford's most up to date infotainment system, the SYNC 3. Also being introduced to the Mondeo, Galaxy and S-Max this year, SYNC 3 offers voice control of connected devices and the navigation system and works with a number of apps such as AccuWeather and Spotify.

Drivers can also use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto and the system has been designed to be more intuitive and user friendly. A revised engine range also ensures that the new Kuga will be cleaner and greener than before, while a classy interior takes inspiration from premium German rivals.

A first glance reveals a purposeful, two bar front grille, new LED daytime running lights and a completely revised and more modern front bumper arrangement. From the rear a new tail light cluster and reshaped boot lid are the most obvious changes, while the highest spec models are distinguishable by their twin exhausts, a decorative diffuser and lights integrated into the bumper.

Alloy wheels can be selected in 17, 18 and 19 inch version and a new colour option has been introduced, called 'Copper Pulse'. While overall the new Kuga looks very different to the existing car, the updates are more evolutionary than revolutionary and provide a neat and timely re-working of the original 2008 design.

Sitting inside the cabin the changes don't seem too far reaching, although according to Ford the fascia has been re-crafted to a more ergonomic shape. There's a larger touchscreen and a more minimal array of switchgear for the stereo and aircon systems. The centre console also looks neater with an electronic handbrake.

Updated tech

Automatic models now come with steering wheel paddle control as standard and new technology includes Adaptive Front Lighting which can automatically adjust the headlamps according to the layout of the road ahead, the car's speed, its distance from the vehicle in front and its steering angle. There's some new safety kit on board too in the form of intelligent four wheel drive, 'Curve Control', 'Cross Traffic Alert' and Ford's automatic braking system 'Active City Stop'.

The main change to powertrain options is the inclusion of an efficient new 1.5 litre diesel engine producing 118bhp. Ford is quoting 64.2mpg and CO2 emissions of 115g/km which should make the new Kuga attractive to fleet buyers. The 2.0 litre TDCis will still be available in 148bhp and 178bhp formats, plus a couple of turbo petrol 1.5 litre units.

The new Kuga is part of a model rationalisation programme by Ford which will see SUVs taking a larger part in its model line-up and under-performing models phased out. The Kuga will be priced from £20,000 and forms part of an SUV family which also includes the EcoSport and Edge models.

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