Ford Kuga Zetec 1.5T

EcoBoost

Ford Kuga, 2016, nose
Ford Kuga, 2016, front
Ford Kuga, 2016, side
Ford Kuga, 2016, rear
Ford Kuga, interior
Ford Kuga, interior

WHEN does a crossover become an SUV? It's an interesting question and one which is probably best summed-up by the Ford Kuga.

Perhaps the best way of looking at it is to think of a crossover as a car that looks somewhat like an SUV, has a higher driving position than a conventional car but is smaller and lacks the four-wheel drive capability traditionally associated with an SUV.

Arguably the Kuga is more SUV than crossover, if only for the fact there's plenty of choices for buyers to go for a four-wheel drive version as opposed to front-wheel drive.

Four-wheel drive versions come with Ford's Intelligent All-Wheel Drive system, which diverts power to different wheels as and when required.

This second-generation Kuga represents quite a change over its predecessor, the key feature being it is far more roomy and practical.

Strangely the more sporty styling of the original has been toned -down slightly to deliver a more conventional design.

The increase in stature and size manifests itself most evidently on the inside with a larger and more comfortable cabin and a bigger boot.

While the interior has been upgraded it still feels basic rather than flashy but the instrumentation is well laid out and easy to navigate your way around.

Engine-wise there are two options - a 1.5-litre EcoBoost turbo petrol or the 2.0-litre Duratorq TDCi turbo diesel engines.

While most buyers plump for the diesel, the petrol unit - as fitted to this model - has much to recommend it.

It's a super smooth engine that pulls impressively and delivers a turn of pace that seems to defy its relatively modest capacity.

Both the diesel and petrol units come in different power variants - 148bhp or 178bhp for the diesel - while power depends on whether its two or four-wheel drive in the petrol.

The front-wheel drive versions delivers 148bhp while the four-wheel drive offers 180bhp.

This front-wheel drive version certainly felt pleasingly potent and added to that it promises the kind of economy (45.6mpg on the combined cycle) that means deciding between petrol and diesel isn't really as clear cut a choice as it once might have been.

Sure, the diesel trumps it in pretty much every respect in terms of performance and economy but given the price difference and the kind of usage many buyers will put a Kuga to, a petrol alternative would be pretty easy to live with for many.

The smooth petrol powerplant did much to deliver a pleasant drive in this car but outside of that the Kuga isn't going to be the sort of vehicle that offers an engaging experience behind the wheel.

Sure, it has a reasonable turn of pace but when it comes to going around corners swiftly you soon become aware of those familiar SUV attributes in the shape of pitch and roll.

Light steering also dulls the driving experience, though conversely it aids manoeuvrability greatly.

Outside of that the Kuga scores highly for an exceptionally comfortable ride and another strength is a super slick-shifting gearbox.

In terms of trim levels there's Zetec, Titanium, Titanium X and Titanium X Sport. Standard features on this entry-level Zetec include daytime running lights, alloy wheels, sports seats, cruise control, a push button start and plenty more besides.

FAST FACTS

Ford Kuga Zetec 1.5T EcoBoost

Price:£20,995

Mechanical: 148bhp 1,498cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed:121mph

0-62mph: 9.7 seconds

Combined MPG: 45.6

Insurance Group:21

C02 emissions: 143g/km

Bik rating: 21%

Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles

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