Driven: 2018 Ford Kuga 1.5EcoBoost

Let us start off this review with clearing the air.  The Kuga caused a bit of a stir with its controversial 1.6-litre derivative. We’re sure it was a PR nightmare trying to contain the situation. With that being said, back in 2017 Ford reported a 93% recall and tried to do everything in their power to track down the remaining 7%. With this refreshed model Ford is aiming to rebuild the trust they lost with consumers.

The refreshed model features new design cues. A new grille, head and rear tail lights. The Kuga was never a bad looking car, but now has a much sharper look to it. Fitted with optional 18-inch wheels, it completes the overall good looks of the car.

Inside the updated Trend and Titanium models feature Ford’s new SYNC3 infotainment system (satellite navigation optional). We love Ford’s infotainment system as it’s very user-friendly. As much as it’s easy to use, the way it’s placed on the dash makes it a bit tricky to operate especially if you have big hands. From the Trend model upwards features an electronic handbrake and standard fitment of a reverse camera (with sensors) across the range. Some of these changes are minimal, but make quite a difference to the consumer.

Our test unit was fitted with a 1.5-litre EcoBoost engine making 132kW and 240Nm of torque mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. It makes good use of its power when you either want to cruise on the highway or when you want to drive it a bit quickly. The car drives really well and performs quite good off-road for a front-wheel-drive car. Taking a shortcut on our way to Durban via the Vrede route, a 5km gravel route proved that the Kuga has what it takes. Kuga claims 6.9 L/100 km but we only achieved 11.7 L/100km driving up to Johannesburg. It somehow redeemed itself when we drove back down to Durban achieving an impressive 7.4 L/100km.

The Kuga is a well-built car, and it’s a pity that it took just one model for the public to lose trust in the brand. Nonetheless, most of us know that it’s quite a reputable motor company and this particular model will continue to do well in its relative market.

Specs

Engine: 1.5 litre 4 cyl turbo petrol
Power: 132 kW @ 6000rpm
Torque: 240 N.m @ 1 600 – 4 000 rpm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Acceleration: 0 – 100 km/h 10.1 seconds
Top Speed: 200 km/h
Fuel Consumption: 6.9 L/100km (claimed)
Price: R 473,890 (as tested)

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