Ford Kuga Titanium X 2.0 Duratorq TDCi 163PS AWD road test review

Ford Kuga Titanium X 2.0 Duratorq TDCi 163PS AWD road test review

The TotallyMotor Verdict


There’s an all-new Ford Kuga midsize SUV coming to Ford dealers at the end of this year, but if you can’t wait to get your hands on one of these cool-looking cat-named cars, you’ll be pleased to know that the new Kuga – although an all-new car – shares a very similar square ‘n’ chunky style to this current Kuga. And with all the goodies that the top-spec Titanium trim brings – including huge 19-inch wheels – this current big cat is as handsome as a Kuga can get. And so it should be for a not insubstantial pricetag of £28,400, plus some options on this car.

We’ve got the most powerful diesel engine under the hood, with 163PS to play with from 2 litres backed up by a turbocharger; a full leather interior; full postcode sat-nav; colour reversing camera with helpful on-screen guiding graphics; heated and electric almost everything; a double-size sunroof and a fairly pumping stereo. This cat does indeed get the extras-cream, so let’s see if it’s purrfect…


Ford Kuga Titanium X 2.0 TDCi 163PS AWD road test review

First impressions:
SUVs need big wheels and this here Kuga gets the biggest – 19 inches tall with five fat spokes – and the taller the Kuga gets the more imposing it looks, and the more commanding your view of the road.

This car is presented in metallic Mars Red paint (£545 option) which, with its liberal sprinkling of silver sparkles throughout the paint colour – that really light-up in the sun – suits the Kuga as a striking colour, But, for me, it’d be white body paint all the way.

Chunky lines, wide wheel arches, high shoulders and short overhangs all bring an air of the off-road-ready to the Kuga, and this TotallyMotor tester does indeed come equipped with all-wheel drive for muddy fun or snow-shovelling, but there are front-wheel drive choices also.

Much of the time, with this class of car, buyers are looking for the taller stance and tougher looks of a 4×4, but without the less fuel efficient four-wheel drive system that, let’s face it, isn’t hugely important in the UK, unless you live off the beaten track.

Kuga brings the 4×4 style, but with a choice of transmission options, and a range that starts at £21,900.


Into the interior:
Climbing up into the Kuga interior and a first look out of the windscreen reveals a vista across two appealing mini bonnet-bulges, and at a Kuga’s tallest height – thanks to those big wheels – there is indeed a very good view of the road ahead.

The double-size sunroof – you can call it “panoramic” if you want to be fancy – naturally lights the interior and the full leather seating and trimmings look and smell good.

There’s plenty of electric adjustment, including lumbar, to the driver’s seats – both fronts are heated, too – and there’s slide and tilt adjustment to the leather-wrapped steering wheel. The seating style – flatter rather than bucket-like – is about right for this type of car – one that won’t be dashing from apex to apex like a Focus – and the flat seat pad does make it easy to slide in and out of the Kuga. The “Quickclear” windscreen really impressed on one heavily-frosted morning; melting the thick ice in less than a minute.

My issues with the driver’s seat were a tight feeling to knee and elbow room. For a pretty big car I did feel somewhat hemmed in on longer journeys and caught my left knee on the wide centre console and right elbow on the door a few times.

At 6’ 4” I’m possibly too big for some cars, but with Fiesta and Focus I found top-notch comfort, but less so in the Kuga. Average-size lads and lasses probably won’t have an issue, though. Another niggle is that the driver’s window controls can be fiddly to find when concentrating on the road as they are somewhat hidden under the door-pull.

Other than that, there’s a general waft of pleasantry to this top-spec Kuga interior; the sat-nav with full postcode entry is easy-peasy and the reversing camera features neat on-screen graphics that bend as you steer to help predict your path into tight spaces.


The drive:
For a big tall “truck”, the Kuga handles with respectable flat-control through the bends and I would tend to describe the ride as firmer, rather than on the soft side. Big wheels and relatively low-profile tyres generally transmit more road imperfections than smaller wheels with deeper tyres, but I go for looks every time and find a firmer ride far more predictable than a soft-soaker.

The Kuga was, for me, a cruiser (and a bit of a poser!) with its 163PS, 2-litre diesel motor and 6-speed manual gearbox combination easily delivering a waft-able ride and easygoing cruise. However, I’d recommend also trying the Kuga with Ford’s PowerShift automatic gearbox, which I found really suited the car's more laid back driving style.

Kuga gets round town without drama, but this isn’t personally my kind of car, and if you’re looking for faster driving fun from your new Ford with about the same size cabin, take a look at the Focus. SUVs aren’t meant to be hustled – the natural physics of taller cars always put them at a disadvantage – and while the Kuga is respectable through the bends, a few laps in a Focus will put a smile on your face like the Kuga can’t quite match.

And while I didn’t really feel the urge to hustle the Kuga through my favourite twisties, the best economy I could find was around the 37mpg mark; the price you pay for a bigger car with all-wheel drive.


Ten second sum up:
The Ford Kuga Titanium X certainly looks the chunky-SUV-part on the outside, especially with these big 19-inch wheels and muscular proportions. On the inside, I found the driving position tighter than the average high standard from Ford, and while you do get almost every interior toy you can think of, £31,945 (including all the test car options) is a fairly sobering chunk of change.


Prices and availability:
The Ford Kuga range starts at £21,900 for the Zetec, rising to £23,900 for the Titanium, and up to £26,400 for the Titanium X. Price as tested £31,945 including a long list of options; 19-inch wheel upgrade (£250), touchscreen sat-nav (£1,050) and metallic Mars Red paint (£545), and more. Available now.

By Daniel Anslow

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