Ford Kuga 2.0 TDCi

We drive the bigger and better equipped new Ford Kuga SUV on British roads for the first time

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

The Kuga is now bigger, better equipped and more competitively priced than its predecessor. However, this model has lost the sharp driving dynamics that set the original apart. The 2.0-litre TDCi diesel engine is at its best when paired with the fine manual gearbox. But it’s not as efficient as Mazda’s 2.2-litre SkyActiv diesel, which powers the better handling and more spacious CX-5.

The new Ford Kuga is sold almost unchanged around the globe, and following drives in mainland Europe and the US, we have finally got our hands on one in the UK.

The new car is more subtly styled than before, with a less distinctive nose and softer rear. A familiar kink and high window line remain, but an 81mm longer wheelbase makes it look slab-sided and conservative.

Inside, rear passengers will appreciate the extra legroom, while boot space increases by 96 litres to 456 litres – as long as you go for a repair kit instead of a spare wheel. With a spare, it drops to 406 litres – 97 litres less than in a Mazda CX-5.

The new Kuga doesn’t weigh any more than before, but it’s definitely not as agile as its predecessor in corners, with more body roll. The steering is nicely weighted and direct, but the car isn’t as fun to drive as the original – it seems Ford wants to broaden the Kuga’s appeal by concentrating on things family buyers want, such as ride comfort and refinement.

It’s mission accomplished in those areas: the Kuga deals with potholed UK roads well. But it no longer stands out as the sharpest-handling model in this competitive class.

There are upsides to the new car’s ‘global status’, though: it’s cheaper than the old Kuga and you get lots of extra kit for your money. Our Titanium-spec test car featured a DAB radio, auto headlights and Ford’s SYNC technology – which reads text messages aloud – as standard.

The 2.0-litre diesel engine pulls strongly and smoothly, and feels quick enough. It’s also quiet and well suited to the slick manual gearbox. Claimed fuel economy has improved from 44.1mpg to 47.9mpg, and CO2 emissions of 154g/km mean annual road tax of £170, which is about average for this class.

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