Kuga upgrade gives you more for less
By Dave Abrahams
Pretoria - Most carmakers, when they announce a facelifted model, will emphasise new trim elements, headlights and bumper styling that make the car look different without significantly altering the basic metalwork.
Ford, however, has gone completely the other way with its 2015-spec Kuga SUV - the only external change mentioned in the media release is the addition of three new metallic paint colours.
But under the bonnet there's a whole lotta shaking going on, with an upgraded diesel engine, a new, seriously muscular petrol engine and a downsized entry-level power-train that runs seven percent cleaner than its predecessor.
So, let's get under the skin of the up-specced Kuga, starting with the two-litre TDCi, which has been tweaked to deliver a claimed 132kW (up from 120) and 400Nm (was 340); the latter figure implies a big improvement in pulling power, especially given that all-wheel drive is standard on diesel Kugas.
At the same time CO2 emissions have been reduced by 19g/km to 140g/km.
The entry-level 1.6-litre EcoBoost engine, by contrast, has been ditched in favour of a new 1.5-litre turbopetrol four that burps only 143g/km of CO2 - 11 less than its predecessor - while delivering a lot more power (134kW, compared to 110) and the same torque rating of 240Nm.
But if you want a seriously muscular beetle-crusher Kuga, listen up: Ford has dropped the Focus ST's two-litre Ecoboost prime mover into a new flagship Kuga.
Okay, it's been detuned from 184kW and 360Nm to 177kW and 340NM in the interests of a wider spread of power, but that's still enough for Ford to claim that it's the most powerful in the mid-sized SUV segment.
And just to prove that it's not only the devil that's in the details, idle stop and an active grille shutter are now standard across the range, as are cruise control and tyre pressure monitoring.
There's more good news in the pricing: the base Ambiente variant is down from R326 900 to R314 900, while the 1.5 Trend is R7000 less expensive at R355 900 than the 1.6 it replaces. Another R12 000 will get you an auto transmission and R27 000 on top of that will drive all four wheels.
The two-litre diesel in Trend trim is down R2000 to R419 900, while the Titanium trim, which was R457 900, will now upset your bank manager to the tune of R454 900.
There's only one two-litre EcoBoost derivative at this stage, in top-spec Titanium trim with an auto transmission and all-wheel drive, for which Ford is asking R437 900.