Ford Kuga ST-Line

2.0 TDCi

Ford Kuga, front action 2
Ford Kuga, front action
Ford Kuga, front action 3
Ford Kuga, front static
Ford Kuga, side action
Ford Kuga, rear seats
Ford Kuga, dashboard
Ford Kuga, boot

FORD'S Kuga was given an overhaul for 2017 and although it remains essentially the same vehicle the changes and improvements have been extensive.

On the outside the customary refresh characteristics are evident, in the shape of new grilles (upper and lower), along with new headlamps and new tail lights.

Those exterior enhancements might be relatively modest but they do quite a bit to redefine the Kuga's profile and it certainly looks different.

The changes are more extensive on the inside.

For a start there's more space and the cabin has a considerably more open and roomy feel given its relatively compact dimensions overall.

Transporting five adults in relative comfort is no mean feat these days but the Kuga manages it with ease.

The other big change on the inside is a transformed layout with oodles of new instrumentation and switchgear.

Given the pace of technological change this is becoming more and more of a priority for manufacturers, rather than just the traditional cosmetic tweaks and tucks.

There are plenty of technological features that represent a big step forward for the Kuga, among them the Adaptive Lighting System, which adapts to the road conditions, geography and other road users, and an electric parking brake - how long before traditional handbrakes become a thing of the past I wonder.

As with many new cars there's a huge emphasis on the latest touchscreen technology and the Kuga has Ford's latest SYNC 3 set-up.

It is straightforward and user-friendly and features voice control, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and Bluetooth.

Engine-wise there's a choice between 1.5-litre petrol and 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre diesel units and you can opt for a six speed manual or a six-speed automatic gearbox.

This was the manual and it was suitably slick and smooth.

Buyers can also opt for two-wheel or four-wheel drive variants.

The 2.0-litre diesel engine is available in two power variants - 148bhp and 178bhp. This was the lower-powered one and it's a commendable all-rounder. It proved to be both a refined and potent unit and with a combined economy figure of just over 60mpg is pretty frugal too.

The Kuga range starts from just under £21,000 and trim levels include Zetec, Titanium, ST-Line and Vignale.

This was an ST-Line model, which has more of a sporty focus. Interestingly it's not just cosmetic stuff either.

The the ST-Line actually sits lower than other versions - indicative of a determined effort to deliver a more engaging drive.

And that drive is pretty decent too. The Kuga is definitely one of those crossovers where pitch and roll are kept to an absolute minimum.

For a long time SUV-makers would eulogise about their latest creation's ‘car-like' handling. An ST-Line Kuga has definitely got it and by all accounts even the other models that sit slightly higher aren't far behind it.

The driving experience is further enhanced by new torque vectoring, which boosts traction and stability.

In addition the Kuga delivers a pretty comfortable and cosseting ride, feeling very much at home on a variety of road surfaces.

FAST FACTS

Ford Kuga ST-Line 2.0 TDCi

Price: £28,745

Mechanical: 148bhp, 1,997cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving four wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 121mph

0-62mph: 10.1 seconds

Combined MPG: 60.1

Insurance Group: 23

C02 emissions: 122g/km

Bik rating: 25%

Warranty:3yrs/60,000 miles

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