If the headline didn’t contain the words Ford and Kuga you might not have spotted it, but this is the new one. Ford sucked it like a lozenge, smoothing off the edges.
They promise us it’ll be about the best of the mid-size crossovers to drive. It has a good chance, given it’s got a lot of new-Focus in the mix. But we won’t know for ourselves until closer to the on-sale date. Currently Ford is unsure of quite when that will be, but they expect November this year or January 2020 (in Europe).
What’s really changed this time around are the power options. As you can imagine in today’s climate, the flow of electrons figures heavily.
Top of the bill is a plug-in hybrid. The critical electric-only range is 31 miles WLTP (50km), enough to net it some handy (though not the very juiciest) tax breaks. The technology is a ‘power-split’ hybrid, with a 2.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine. That’s a similar system to a plug-in Prius, though the engine is bigger. Overall power output is a useful 225bhp when everything’s pulling together. The battery takes 14.4kWh, but can’t be DC rapid-charged.
There’s also a standard hybrid, and Ford has caved in to Toyota’s jargon and calls it a ‘self-charging hybrid’. That one is claimed to be on track for 50mpg WLTP, but won’t arrive for more than a year from now.
And just as you thought diesel had gone to hide under a rock, here it is. Ford has added 48-volt mild hybrid tech, so you’ve got 59mpg WLTP from the 1.5-litre engine and 50mpg from the 2.0-litre, which can also be had with all-wheel drive.
Finally, the 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol, as per the Focus, in 120bhp and 150bhp outputs.
Inside, it’s no shock to be greeted with a very Focus-alike dash. You can have all the Focus’s tech too. Comprehensive driver aids include lane support and adaptive cruise. The full-time modem gives connected services and in-car wi-fi. A head-up display and B&O sounds figure among the options.
The hybrids get active noise cancellation. We’d call that a clue that their natural noise is something that needs cancelling.
As it’s a Ford, the family-duty practical stuff is a given. There’s good room in the back, and those rear seats can slide, recline and warm your bum. Tables fold out from the back of the front seats. Overall roominess is notably increased since the existing Kuga, and the boot’s bigger too.
But then, it should be. The wheelbase is longer. Overall length and width are up too. Commendably though it’s lighter by up to 90kg. The height has dropped, which helps it look a little slinkier and saves air resistance.
Ford’s European design chief Amko Leenarts tells Top Gear it’s shaped to look “lightweight and athletic but powerful, and it’s a big vehicle so this makes it look compact”. The windscreen pillar has moved back compared with the current car, and they’ve made the bonnet look long and flat, with a high peak to the shark-nose profile.
As with the other recent Fords, it’ll come with quite different-looking versions. You’ll probably want the lowered, firmed-up ST-Line trim. There’s also a poshed-up Vignale and a civilians’ Titanium.
The outgoing Kuga was a consistent top-ten seller in Britain, sandwiched between the Qashqai and the Kia Sportage, so this one has momentum behind it.