Ford Kuga ST-Line X review

Ford Kuga ST-Line X review
Ford Kuga ST-Line X review

Sales of new diesel cars are falling, with negative press, scandals such as Dieselgate and legislation targeting oil-burning engines all contributing to the slump.

At the same time efficient, turbocharged petrol engines are on the up, picking up the slack while the market slowly gets used to the idea of alternative fuels and the charging infrastructure slowly expands.

Some of the most acclaimed examples of this new breed of turbocharged engine are from Ford’s Ecoboost range.

Read more: Vauxhall Grandland X review

The 1.5-litre version in our all-wheel drive Kuga being a prime example. With 174bhp and 177lb/ft of low-down grunt it has ample power for this mid-sized SUV, which squares up against the VW Tiguan and Kia Sportage in that awkward comes-with-AWD-so-not-quite-a-crossover-but-too-car-like-to be-considered-an-off-roader middleground buyers like so much.

Paired with Ford’s six-speed Powershift automatic gearbox it delivers power smoothly around town and is pretty quick to change at higher speeds outside the city too.

Ford Kuga ST-Line X

Ford Kuga ST-Line X

Price: £34,475 (£35,440 as tested)
Engine: 1.5-litre, four-cylinder, turbo, petrol
Power: 174bhp
Torque: 177lb/ft
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Top speed: 122mph
0-62mph: 11 seconds
Economy: 34mpg
CO2 emissions: 188g/km

A few years ago you’d have been mad to buy a big car like this with anything other than a diesel engine and, while the Ecoboost unit is a pleasure to drive, you do pay for it in terms of fuel economy. Official figure is 34mpg combined, but I didn’t reach the 30s in my week-long test of the car.

Ford have a reputation for building great-handling cars very well and, while it’s tough to make an SUV fall into that category, they’ve done a decent job with the Kuga and – true to form – it’s one of the best handling in its class.

ST-Line is Ford’s sporty trim level, generally meaning bigger alloys, a body styling kit and touches such as tinted windows. The ‘X’ adds a bit of luxury with even bigger wheels, a panoramic roof, electrically adjustable and heated seats, a powered tailgate and keyless entry.

Ford Kuga ST-Line X

It’s a good-looking car which was refreshed to look more like its larger brother the Edge 18 months ago. The wider grille not only improves pedestrian safety in the event of a collision, but is actually cheaper to replace should you damage it – something no buyer is ever likely to consider on the forecourt but good to know nonetheless.

Ordinarily, when we’re sent a car by a manufacturer to test I gloss over the wear and tear the test cars tend to pick up on the circuit. There’s usually at least a couple of dozen journalists driving each vehicle before it reaches us and it would be unfair to hold the manufacturer responsible for any scrapes or bumps it might pick up along the way.

However I was disappointed to note that two of the rear seat belt catches were broken in a car that was less than eight months old at the time of driving.

Ford Kuga ST-Line X

That was most likely a fluke, caused by a colleague’s mistreatment, but it’s a first in a Ford test car and not something I expect from a £35,440 model.

And that’s the only other issue I have with this car: the price. It’s great to drive, has bags of equipment and looks good but so is a Kia Sportage, which is £5,000 cheaper in the equivalent GT-Line S specification.

In the old days, Ford could rely on superior build quality but, in the areas that matter, brands like Kia have caught up. Ford must be careful not to price their models too steeply against the improving competition.

The Kuga handles better than the Sportage, but there’s better value than the ST-Line X in the Kuga line-up.

Ford Kuga ST-Line X

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