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The new Kuga's green credentials may not be class-leading, but unlike the old model it's competitive with key rivals.
The front-wheel drive 140hp 2.0 TDCi spearheads the new Kuga's assault on the user-chooser market, with emissions of 139g/km, though we tried the 163hp 2.0 TDCi AWD, the only diesel model available to drive at Ford's launch event.
Official figures promise 47.9mpg and 154g/km of CO2, better than what a 170hp 2.0 TDI VW Tiguan achieves, although the Ford is well beaten by the Mazda CX-5, 175hp 2.2, which emits just 136g/km.
A monthly BIK bill of £189 for the Mazda saves a higher-rate tax payer £14 compared with the Ford, but combine the latter's low servicing costs and impressive predicted resale values and the new Kuga makes a strong case for itself, with a cost per mile to beat not only the Mazda and VW but also the Honda CR-V.
The new Kuga is more practical than its predecessor. Boot space was one of the old model's weakest points but the new car has 438-481 litres, depending on how far the rear seat backs have been reclined. If even more room is needed the rear seats fold flat and sit flush with the boot floor, provided it is set to the higher of two levels. There's enough space in the back for adults to sit in reasonable comfort.
The driver faces a dashboard that will look familiar to anyone who has driven the current Focus or C-max. It's attractive enough to look at, although many of the buttons are small and some controls aren't as intuitive as they should be. A sound driving position with plenty of adjustment means long-distance comfort isn't an issue.
The Kuga uses the same platform as the Focus and C-max, matched to a new four-wheel drive system. Under normal driving conditions all the power goes to the front wheels, but if they slip, as much as 100% of the engine's torque can go to the rear wheels. A display on the dash shows where the power is directed, and it's the only way you'll notice the torque shifting around as the system is so smooth and unobtrusive.
There's some wind noise and the engine can sound strained when accelerating hard, but it's acceptably quiet at motorway speeds. Head onto twistier roads and the Kuga corners tidily yet handles all but the sharpest bumps well. However, in growing more mature and sensible, some of the old car's engaging personality has been lost. Yet it would be churlish to complain too loudly when, by any rational measure, including the fact that it's less costly to run, the new Kuga is a much improved car.
Ford Kuga 2.0 TDCi 163 Titanium AWD
Model price range
Service, Maintenance and Repair
Vehicle Excise Duty
Cost per mile
BIK 20/40% per month
Boot space min/max
More practical than before, with impressively low whole-life costs