It's here at last – Ford’s new 4x4 has broken cover. These are the first official pictures of the Focus-based off-roader, the Kuga, which is set to go on Sale
early next year.
Following on from the exciting Verve – the stunning replacement for the Fiesta, which we revealed in last week's issue – and the sleek new Mondeo, the sporty SUV shows that style really is at the top of agenda at Ford.
Initially unveiled at the Paris Motor Show in September last year as the Iosis X, and later with some official sketches, the showroom-ready Kuga is every inch as attractive as the original concept. With its bold, twin-split trapezoidal grilles, huge headlights and lower protective metal tray, the Kuga has plenty of visual presence. That’s complemented by chunky wheelarches, large alloys and a raised ride height.
The rising waistline forms distinctive angular C-pillars, while at the rear, there’s a sporty roof spoiler, classy tail-lights – which sit on the leading edge of the pronounced shoulders – and another undertray.
What’s more, plenty of design cues taken from the Iosis X have made it to production. The same ‘Ice White’ body colour is available on the finished model, and so are the show car’s 19-inch alloys. There’s also the option of a panoramic glass sunroof. In fact, the only major difference over the concept is the profile of the roofline. Gone is the rakish coupé look, replaced by a more upright roof to give decent headroom in the rear.
Practicality promises to be excellent with a split tailgate, and with the model based on underpinnings from the Focus and C-MAX, the five-seat layout should be spacious.
Inside, there are close links to the Iosis X with a radical cabin that features an array of colour and trim options, allowing buyers to personalise their car in the same way that they can a MINI. For example, customers can choose orange piping for the seats and body-coloured panels for the doors and centre console. The dashboard takes its inspiration from the Mondeo and S-MAX MPV but adds an optional Blaupunkt satellite navigation system, which features a seven-inch colour screen, capable of showing images from a rear camera to assist reverse parking.
Under the skin, the Kuga uses a four-wheel-drive system taken from sister firm Volvo and currently seen in the S40 and V50. Operating in front-wheel-drive mode under most conditions, it can divert torque to the rear wheels when on slippery surfaces.
Although details have yet to be confirmed, the Kuga is expected to have a ‘switchable’ system, which allows the driver to select front-wheel drive only, four-wheel drive or ‘auto’, which allows the system to decide what’s required on its own.
Ford is also expected to launch a front-wheel-drive version. As well as some off-road ability, all models will deliver the same driver-pleasing on-road handling that the blue oval has become renowned for.
Engines will be taken from the Focus line-up, with the oil-burning range headed by a 136bhp 2.0-litre TDCi turbodiesel. The petrol offerings are set to be topped by a 217bhp 2.5-litre turbocharged five-cylinder unit. Final equipment levels and prices will be revealed closer to the launch in spring next year, but base models are likely to cost around £16,500.