Ford Kuga ST-Line

2.0 TDCI

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

THE last time I drove a Ford Kuga it was a shadow of the car I am now driving. It was pretty enough but in this new bigger guise it has really grown into a handsome SUV with bags of kerbside appeal.

Of course, it helps that the version delivered to me is the ST Line - the sporty looking model with a lowered suspension, distinctive black design cues on the exterior instead of chrome, dark privacy glass and some lovely 19in black Rock Metallic alloys with red brake calipers.

The Ford SUV/crossover range now starts with the EcoSport leaving the company free to work some of its magic on the Kuga, the next car in the line-up followed by the Edge and topped off by the big Ranger pickup.

Ford fans will know however, that a new smaller SUV, the Puma, is expected this year and that the Ranger could shortly be joined by a Raptor version.

At the moment though the Kuga with its big, bold roof bars and large rear spoiler is more than flying the flag for the blue oval badge.

Inside, the partial leather seats are trimmed with red stitching, there is an ST-Linesporty steering wheel, also with the red stitching, and aluminium foot pedals to enhance the feel and lookof the Kuga.

It is roomy inside and it feels roomy. Certainly adults could sit comfortably in the rear and the boot space has grown too.

It helps also that with the ST-Line trim comes a power opening panoramic roof that lets light into the cabin and creates an even greater feeling of space.

The dash, like many of Ford's new models, has been decluttered making it much easier to navigate but it still boasts Ford's remarkably good infotainment system with SYNC 3 DAB navigation, AppLink, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and including two USB ports as well as a 12V link.

I also really liked the six-speed automatic powershift gearstick. It was slick and smooth with a Sport mode that you felt encouraged to use and when you did the Kuga really rewarded you with a burst of power and agility that you hardly expected from such a relatively large vehicle.

It moves well too.Not fast and furious, but certainly with genuine athleticism and because of that lower ride height in the ST-Line, the sports suspension, it proved remarkably neat on corners.

Like all Fords it comes with a raft of features to make life easier for the driver - and passengers. There's the amazing Quickclear windscreen of which I am already a besotted fan. There's Emergency Assistance through the SYNC 3 system should you need it, cruise control, hill start assist, emergency brake assist and because I was in the four wheel drive version, there was also intelligent all wheel drive that sends torque to the wheels that need it.

The Ford line up just keeps getting better and better and even the options you might want to add do not cost too much. The Driver's Assistance Pack comes in at just £550 and for that you get Active City Stop, Lane Keeping, Blind Spot Information as well as several other features.

The Premium SYNC 3 system for the same amount adds a rear view camera and a Sony sound system.

FAST FACTS

Ford Kuga ST-Line 2.0 TDCI

Price: £35,935

Mechanical: 180ps, 1,998cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 6-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 124mph

0-62mph: 10 seconds

Combined MPG: 25

Insurance Group: 160g/km

C02 emissions: 37%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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