The new Ford Kuga, which has been revealed at the Geneva motor show, will go on sale early in 2013. Ford says it will win customers by being better to drive, larger, more practical and fitted with more technology as standard than its rivals.
Key to its improved dynamics is Ford's Torque Vectoring Control system, first fitted to the latest generation Focus, with which the Kuga shares a platform. The system works by encouraging power to the front wheel with the most grip by braking the slipping wheel.
Ford"s latest all-wheel drive system will also be available. It adjusts the power split front to back more than a 100 times a second with the goal, Ford says, of achieving "the best blend of handling and traction”.
Three engines will be on sale at launch; 138bhp and 161bhp 2.0 diesels and a 148bhp 1.6-litre Ecoboost petrol. The diesels will be available with the option of Ford’s Powershift automatic gearbox.
The Kuga is closely related to the US-market Escape, but has been subtly restyled for the European market. It is around 100mm longer than the outgoing model, which has opened up more rear passenger space - something Ford admits has been criticised by past customers – and allowed for boot space to grow to 442 litres, 82 more than the current model.
Emphasising the Kuga’s family credentials, technology highlights include a boot that can be opened or closed when someone waves their foot under its rear bumper, and rear seats that fold flat at the touch of a button.
Other practicality and safety orientated options that Ford hopes will woo customers include Active Park Assist, which helps steer the car into a parking space, and Blind Spot Information System, which uses a light in the door mirror to indicate if a car is in the driver’s blind spot
Ford’s new in-car connectivity SYNC system will also be available as an option from launch. Buyers get voice control, mobile device integration and Emergency Assistance, which detects if an airbag or the fuel cut-off system are activated, and uses an on-board GPS system and Bluetooth paired device to call the emergency services requesting help in the local language.