Expert Reviews

First Drive: Ford Kuga ST-Line

Friday 02 December 2016

First Drive: Ford Kuga ST-Line
Summary

The Ford Kuga was first released back in 2008, and saw instant success in the small SUV market. The second-generation car came along in 2013, with the European sales of this hitting 187,000 during 2014 and 2015. Now, it’s been given a mid-life refresh to keep it in line with rivals.

We tested the Kuga ST-Line, which comes as the second highest on the spec list, sitting just below the luxury Vignale. Both of these trims are available for the first time on the new Vignale.

The Kuga ST-Line is aimed at those drivers wanting a sportier edge to their Kuga. As such, it has a full bodystyling kit and sports suspension. It’s also fitted with a 2.0-litre, 178bhp TDCi engine.

Looks & Image

Ford announced that this latest Kuga’s styling brought it closer to that found on other models in the class. To do this, it has made the Kuga bolder and sportier. However, it’s still not quite as rugged-looking as the Jeep Renegade.

The new trapezoidal grille is instantly recognisable, as are the raked and intricate LED headlights that sit at either side. Redesigned alloy wheels also feature across the range, as well as two new colour options – Guard Grey and Copper Pulse.

ST-Line cars benefit from 18-inch dark alloy wheels and a redesigned body kit, which includes black-finish roof rails, headlight bezels, side wind vents and door frame mouldings.

In the cabin, an electronic parking brake replaces the manual version found on the outgoing model, while all of the buttons are simple and easy to operate.

One point of contention is the heated front windscreen. The heated elements within it are so visible that they can sometimes distort the headlights of oncoming cars.

Space & Practicality

There’s a good amount of room for those sat in the back of the Kuga, with adequate levels of head, leg and hip room. A small transmission hump in the centre doesn’t intrude too much on the central passenger’s legroom, either. 

The front is equally comfortable, with plenty of legroom. The redesigned buttons on the centre console allow the front of the cabin to feel a lot less cluttered, too.

However, what the Kuga ST-Line gains in terms of performance and style, it loses in boot space. As such, the rear luggage compartment simply isn’t as big as that found on its rivals. With the seats up, you’ll find 485 litres of space, which rises to 1,603 litres with them folded down.

Ford’s Intelligent Protection System is fitted as standard, as are a selection of airbags in both the front and rear.

Behind the Wheel

We got behind the wheel of the Kuga in the extremes of the Arctic Circle. Although not an area you’d conventionally find a car in this class, the Kuga managed to deal with the conditions remarkably well. Ford’s All-Wheel Drive system kept the car in check, varying to torque sent to each wheel to correct any slides. The car’s ABS also worked well under heavy braking, bringing it to a safe and controlled stop in even the slipperiest of conditions    .

The sports suspension fitted to the ST-Line gives it a firm yet agile feel, and manages to rid it of a lot of body roll, too.

Value for Money

The Kuga features Ford’s all-new SYNC3 system, which is controlled via an eight-inch screen. It incorporates both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, giving greater levels of smartphone integration to the car.

As standard, the Kuga is fitted with Active Park Assist and Park-Out Assist. These both help the driver enter and exit a tight parking space, activated by the touch of a button.

Who would buy one ?

Although we tested the Kuga on the treacherous roads of snowy Finland and Norway, the Kuga is still a car you’d be happy to take the kids to school in. It’s comfortable, spacious and easy to drive to boot. You can also drive it safe in the knowledge that it won’t crumble at the sight of some off-road terrain, either.

Facts at a Glance

Manufacturer: Ford
Model as tested: Ford Kuga ST-Line
Power: 178bhp
Torque: 400Nm
Max speed: 126mph
0-60mph: 9 seconds
MPG: 54.3
Emissions: 135g/km
Base price: £20,845
Price as tested: £29,554

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