Car group tests

Ford Kuga vs rivals

We’ve got 24 hours to find out how Ford’s new compact SUV copes in the city, on the open road and in the rough against three key rivals

Kuga fr

It was one of the biggest scoops of 2006... Auto Express first snapped spy shots of the Focus 4x4 in Issue 901, following them up with spot-on accurate images just over a year later in Issue 963. It was a long wait for Ford’s SUV to hit the UK – but now it’s here, does the Kuga live up to its billing?

With the exception of the Ranger pick-up, Ford hasn’t produced a 4x4 in years – the Maverick is a distant memory. The Kuga doesn’t have the baggage of being a replacement model, and has the pick of the ever-diversifying SUV market to target. So what is it trying to be?

Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Ford Kuga

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To get to the bottom of the distinctive newcomer’s strengths and weaknesses, we have put it through the toughest day of testing ever! It’s time for the Kuga to prove its worth as it faces three rivals with key skills in three different areas.

The first of our trio of clashes sees the Ford fight it out in the urban jungle. Nissan’s Qashqai has the chunky styling intended to draw buyers away from conventional compact family hatchbacks such as the Focus. Can the Kuga bring them back to Ford showrooms in the high street, where image is king?

Next up, the SUV faces one of the class’s finest all-rounders on the open road. The Honda CR-V blends rugged ability, practicality and tarmac-friendly handling in a way few rivals can match.

And finally, the Kuga has to prove its talent in the mud. Bosses are hoping the model will suit those buyers who like to occasionally head off the beaten track. We do exactly that to see if it has the durability to match Suzuki’s Grand Vitara.

Will the Ford prove to be the king of all surfaces and environments – or has it spread its appeal too thin?

Verdict

Having put the Kuga through an exhaustive challenge, there’s no doubt it’s an impressive SUV.

It’s hard to think of another model that comes close to its dynamic abilities. In fact, the Ford’s handling can put many conventional hatchbacks to shame. A lack of versatility and a limited model range could hold the new 4x4 back, but for now the Kuga is our new compact SUV benchmark.

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