THE first Ford Kuga soft roader used a lengthened and widened version of the excellent Focus chassis and the tried and tested 2.0-litre diesel engine used across the Ford range.
It was the company's first serious offering in the 4x4 class and it's a good performer in every way, with stylish looks and car-like handling.
The turbo diesel was the main seller by far, with power ranging from 134 to 160bhp, and all give decent to good performance with excellent economy.
As with the later models from 2012, only a few get four wheel drive (4WD), so if you want the extra traction, make sure you have it,
The 4WD is an intelligent system that drives the front wheels normally, but takes drive to all four when slippery conditions are detected. Those with just front wheel drive give lower emissions and better economy.
The only petrol available up to 2012 was the 2.5-litre five cylinder, borrowed from Volvo for the Focus ST of that era, and detuned to produce 197bhp.
It is huge fun to drive but if you can find one, bear in mind that it's is going to be expensive to insure and to run.
The two-litre TDCi will be more expensive secondhand but if you don't cover many miles, the petrol might save money.
From 2012, the second generation Kuga has a 1.5 turbo petrol with 120, 150 or 180bhp, or a 1.6 with 150 or 180. The 2.0-litre diesel has either 140, 150, 160 or 180bhp.
Only the 150 and 180bhp diesels and the 180bhp petrol come with that all wheel drive, the rest have front wheel drive only.
The ride in all models is excellent and the suspension also delivers good road-holding, helped by decent balance and positive, well-weighted steering.
Safety is top drawer, with stability control, six airbags and a steering wheel designed to move sideways away from the driver in an accident.
The sports seats are great, with good head and leg room but the boot is rather small, even though split-fold rear seats make more room when needed.
The light and airy cabin is comfortable and refined, practical and modern. There's a mini tailgate for loading smaller items and it comes with a premium feel and equipment including alarm, alloys, cruise, an auto-dimming rear view mirror, automatic headlights and wipers, traction control and remote audio controls. Top models also get sat nav and leather upholstery.
: Pay about Â£7,750 for a '10 10-reg Zetec 2WD, or Â£12,300 for a '12 12-reg Titanium 4WD
: 160bhp, 1,997cc, 4cyl diesel engine drivingtwo or four wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox
: 10 seconds
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