Why Ford’s new top-of-the-range Kuga should be on your SUV shopping list – it even has a party trick.
As we all know, the Sports Utility Vehicle market is ferociously competitive, so standing out from the crowd is more important than ever.
Some manage it through sheer good looks, others via safety features, great packaging and fantastic economy. The Ford Kuga, launched in 2009 and refreshed in 2013, has succeeded because it’s an all-rounder.
Last year, Ford also quickly realised that 80% of buyers went for the two hi-spec versions of the refreshed Kuga, so for 2014 a new top-of-the-range model was introduced. Meet the Titanium X Sport.
As well as options such as leather upholstery, heated front seats, automatic headlights and panoramic sunroof already seen in the Titanium X, the Sport gets even more goodies including 19-inch alloy wheels, rear-view camera, body-coloured, sporty body kit and privacy glass.
The end product is a sculpted, rugged, spacious, economical four-wheel-drive… with a party trick – it has a magic tailgate!
Yes, just wave your foot under the Kuga’s rear bumper and the tailgate lifts automatically – very useful if you’ve arrived back at the car with arms full of shopping. Note – the ‘keyless opening’ foot-operated tailgate is a £350 optional extra.
That said, the innovation was chosen by more than one in five of all Ford Kuga buyers in Britain last year and has already been added to 56% of early Titanium X Sport orders in the UK.
The car I drove had other options too, bumping the £31,750 price up to £35,070. The extras included metallic paint (£545) a detachable tow bar (£625) and a Driver Assistance Pack (£900) which includes safety systems such as a Blind Spot Alert and Lane Keeping Aid (the steering wheel vibrates when you approach lane markings).
My test car also came with the range-topping 2.0-litre TDCi diesel, a six-speed gearbox and ‘Intelligent All-Wheel Drive’ which cleverly distributes power between the four wheels.
A little noisy at low speeds, the engine zips along, hitting 0-62mph in 9.9 seconds, a top speed of 123mph and Ford claims it’s capable of 47.9mpg, though I’d say 40ish mpg is more realistic.
Inside the Kuga Titanium X Sport is spacious, front and rear, and generally has a quality feel.
Excellent visibility, a good driving position and a well-designed cockpit all add to the successful mix. The list of standard equipment is endless, including a heated windscreen, air-conditioning, sat nav, cruise control and an excellent Sony DAB music system.
The X Sport is easy and enjoyable to drive, feeling more like a car than an SUV. Its rivals include the Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5, Toyota RAV4 and the Hyundai Sante Fe – maybe even the Volvo XC60 and Nissan Qashqai.
With its rugged looks, good reputation, safety features, driveability and space, the Ford Kuga Titanium X Sport is a solid all-weather choice in a highly competitive sector.
The Kuga range is also available with less costly petrol and diesel engines, front wheel drive and automatic gearboxes. The Titanium Sport X starts at £28,595.