Johannesburg - Here are the keys, keep it for a couple of months, write, tweet, Instagram and Facebook and tell us what you think.

Who would say “no” to even a dinky car, but the new Ford Kuga is more than that, much more. Launched a couple of months ago, I was privileged to be able to drive the range for more than 1000km from East London back to Joburg.

So when the opportunity came to drive the Kuga as part of a long-term test, I was keen to see what it would be like to live with as an every day, home-work-home, weekend-drive vehicle. 

The one that arrived in the basement is powered by the 1.5 Ecoboost petrol engine pushing out a comfortable 132kW to the front wheels with a six-speed automatic gearbox. And I must say that the gearbox is one of the smoothest I have yet come across, changing effortlessly between the gears and, if you're in the mood, you can always use the paddles to keep yourself occupied.

I haven’t yet felt the need, but on its launch I had some fun driving up the Hogsback Pass and the changes are just as smooth and effortless. It’s a good looking SUV too.

The familiar front Ford grille leans back in to attractive lines through to the back, boasting twin exhausts with attractive diamond-cut alloy rims rounding off a classy package. 

Inside you can clearly see the upgrade over the previous model and Ford have outdone themselves here. 

From the moment you close the door with a solid thump, you’re surrounded by a very modern, attractive cabin that clearly a lot of thought has gone into.

Quality leather seats move electronically, although I’m tall so most of the time I move it to as far back as I can go and then adjust the rest of the support to suit me, and even over long distances it remains comfortable.

The steering wheel too, fits my paws comfortably, with almost everything except the air conditioning controlled from easy to get to switches. 
It took a while to find all the right buttons for the right settings, but once you’re familiar with them it’s a cinch.

The interface is one of the least complicated I’ve come across and because I’m going to be behind the wheel for a while yet, I have started to use the Sync3 connectivity system which after a couple of voice attempts from both sides has seen us get along without too much cussing. 
Eventually I’ll get around to the Android Auto app connection, but for now I’m just enjoying being behind the wheel.

The navigation system on the eight-inch touch screen with its 3D elevated map view impressed a mate of mine who’s very much into graphics and I eventually had to ask him to leave it alone while we drove to an out-of-the-way shop with the temperature showing 35º and the air conditioning keeping us blissfully unaware of how hot and humid it was.

The Kuga will be joining me on the South Coast in December, so I reckon it’s good to know that the heat is one less thing to concern myself with. 

Oh yes, arriving at said shop we needed to cart around some seriously bulky stuff, which necessitated putting the rear seats flat to give us just over 1600 litres of space, which we used almost in its entirety. It was heavy too but the turbo-charged 1.5-litre handled the weight, including two large blokes, without putting up too much of a fight. 

Even going around corners loaded, the Kuga’s suspension never wavered and that included a few kilometres on a seriously corrugated piece of dirt road. It’s also fitted with a list of safety features as long as someone’s potential charge sheet, should he ever get his day in court, with active city stop with low-speed collision mitigation and avoidance, adaptive cruise control, blind spot information system, lane departure warning, lane keeping aid and advanced parking assist. 

Add to that seven airbags, ABS, electronic stability programme, trailer stability function, hill launch assist and rollover mitigation and you’re pretty much covered in every department should things go awry. 

Fuel-wise we’re averaging 10.1 litres/100km in just over 1000km, mostly in an urban environment, and I’m hoping to improve that come the Christmas holidays when the Kuga’s nose will be pointed towards the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast.

FACTS

Ford Kuga 1.5T Trend auto

Engine: 1.6-litre, 4-cyl, turbopetrol
Gearbox: 6-speed automatic
Power: 132kW @ 6000rpm
Torque: 240Nm @ 1600-4000rpm
0-100km/h (claimed)10.1 seconds
Top speed (claimed)200km/h
Fuel use (tested):10.1 litres per 100km
Price: R423 424
Warranty: 4-year/120 000km
Service plan: 4-year/80 000km

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