HOW time flies when you are having fun.
Ford's Kuga has now been with us since 2008.
It has been a popular and rewarding enough car with plenty of road presence so a third generation styling tweak or two should get the job done, hey?
Wrong. The latest version no longer has the same aggressive look because all Fords now have to be global and the old Kuga was very much a European taste.
So, there is a rear end which is flatter, a push up market inside to compete with the class leaders and make a dash away from the bargain basement crossovers hitting our streets, while increasing practicality by doing such things as adding 200-litres to the boot capacity and some seat back tray tables.
In short the Kuga has become captain sensible, it makes less of a statement about you but probably has a wider appeal. Oh, and it is bigger because the Americans like big.
Put the Edge, Ecosport and Kuga together and you see three very similar cars in differing sizes.
Kuga's engine range has been revised, not surprisingly following the trend for smaller capacity.
The 1.6T becomes a 1.5T, in either 150bhp or 182bhp power.
The 2.0-litre diesel now produces up to 180bhp, gaining torque as well. It can now average more than 54mpg while the 150bhp model and claims60mpg. Acceleration is in the nine to 11 seconds to 62mph bracket.
You can have it with four-wheel drive, six-speed manual or automatic transmission.
For your money, the range starts at £21,195 for the entry level Zetec rising to £40,000 for the Vignale which can be heavily personalised, there is plenty of kit. This includes the foot operated tailgate, a godsend when loading shopping or dealing with nippers.
In between is the Titanium and ST-Line at £24,245 and £25,845. Titainium X and above gets full leather while the ST is cloth upholstery.
Briefly the equipment manifest includes air con, keyless start, hill start assist, cruise control and DAB radio throughout, adding navigation, parking sensors and running lights up a grade moving on to ST level and active parking assist and interior trim tweaks.
As is obligatory you can use apps on the go and voice commands will have the Sync 3 system seeking out your request for a refueling halt, refreshments or any one of 22,000 pre-programmed functions..
Safety is boosted with Cross Traffic Alert and auto braking as well as ‘curve control'.
The cabin is busy but not cluttered and certainly has plenty of quality. It is a livable space, well set up for long haul and logically designed
On the road the steering is light, there is some roll and a commanding seating position. It all feels well put together and stable with a refined ride.
Ford expects up to 12,000 customers to choose AWD which is available on all but the basic 1.5-litre. Therefore it is important to know what level of off-road ability you are buying into.
Out on the road the newcomer to the range ST-line, this one with AWD, was a good drive through the wilds and windings of the Peak District in the sort of weather which justifies 4x4 as a road option.
Of course there are those who will have grubby recreational interests, like a bit of towing,who will be looking for more.
On a rutted water splash dotted off-road route the car was hardly called on to do much in the way of jungle warfare until the blast third when the going really did get tougher. It is not mud-monster but well able to justify if you have average conditions to cope with.
Ford is keen to point out that January returned the business to top spot as a vehicle manufacture. There is no reason to think that the Kuga will do anything to blot that copy book.