By Patrick James on 2016-11-05 - The author has been a motoring writer for more than 16 years. Formerly motoring editor at the Coventry Telegraph, he now produces motoring copy, on new car launches and road tests on a freelance basis.
Ford Kuga Zetec 1.5T
MILLENNIALS, Quintastics and modern mums. If it wasn't for the third group, you could think you were reading a foreign language.
Jargon as usual with the advertising and marketing industry, but according to a Ford-sponsored survey, the three groups: mothers with young children; Millennials - people reaching young adulthood around the year 2000 - and active 50-somethings are behind the popularity of SUVs in Europe
The survey of 5,000 Europeans showed one in three mothers with children still at home are thinking of buying an SUV, as are one in four of 17- to 34-year-olds, and one in five of today's generation of active 50-somethings.
So the latest Kuga will look to build on the success of its predecessor.
Now bigger and roomier, it introduces a segment-first powered hands-free tailgate and a new intelligent all-wheel drive system. It is also well-equipped, with a raft of safety kit to earn it a five-star Euro NCAP rating. There are four trim levels; Zetec, Titanium, Titanium X and Titanium X Sport.
Standard features on Zetec include keyless entry and start, daytime running lights, alloy wheels, digital radio, cruise control, Bluetooth mobile phone connectivity, a heated front windscreen and air conditioning.
But what came as a surprise when parking was the lack of bleeping from parking sensors. It's the kind of thing you would expect on a £20,000 plus motor and I'm sure its something the Millennials, Quintastics and modern mums would be looking for. However, they are available on more expensive models.
The Kuga has always been smart looking, slightly muscular and robust, though not as pretty as say the Honda CR-V or Mazda CX-5. It is a typically solid product from Ford which offers a choice of economical petrol and diesel engines and two or four-wheel drive options.
The two engines available are a 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol engine on the test model and a two-litre Duratorq TDCi diesel engine. Both have different power ratings, but all versions offer sub-180g/km CO2 emissions, even with all-wheel drive, which makes them attractive fleet/business user options.
The interior is a well put together and feels solid with logically placed dials and switchgear and nice soft touch finish to dash and doors. The centrepiece is the swooping dashboard that houses the touchscreen which control major functions, like navigation, connectivity, climate and infotainment.
The screen is clear enough, but some of the buttons are a bit fiddly.
The higher stance of the SUV/crossover can sometimes mean handling can be compromised. It is, but only slightly. Like like most Fords, the Kuga handles well if not quite so well as its sibling hatchbacks, for obvious reasons. But it's still a pretty decent ride and this two-wheel driver version felt well planted on corners with decent grip.
I tried the four-wheel drive on the previous model and it proved a more than capable 'soft roader' on pretty rough terrain, so there's no reason to believe the latest model is any different.
On the roads, the 150ps petrol engine here has decent enough pace and official economy figures are good, if not quite matched in the real world.
But the power unit has a sweet enough sound and hits the 60mph mark from a standing start in just 9.7 seconds. The car rides well enough and is a decent motorway cruiser, despite some tyre and wind noise.
Ford Kuga Zetec 1.5T EcoBoost
Mechanical: 150ps, 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: 20
C02 emissions: 143g/km
Bik rating: 21%
Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles
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