Ford has been both generous and clever with the Kuga ST line. They offer the driver a responsive fun car to drive with sporty looks and fairly sporty performance and then add dollops of luxury items as standard for a very fair price.
It is both a luxury mid-size SUV and a sporty feeling car at the same time. And very good value for money in its segment.
I really enjoyed driving the ST Line ( note: not ST) Kuga and could live very happily with it even though it is not terribly economical in turbo petrol guise although Ford claims 8.7L/100km. I think most users will average around 10L/100km, although the diesel will be lighter.
The ST Line badging implies it is not a real ST high performance derivative, but rather has more performance and upgraded suspension than the standard models, a bit like Audi offers the S-Line trim, Mercedes-Benz the AMG Line, and a number of BMW derivatives bear M badges.
The interior is restrained but smart and practical. A very pleasant space to spend time in. The Synch3 infotainment system is one of the best out there. Nothing to fault in that department.
An electric tailgate is now standard on all Kuga derivatives and includes a leg-swing opening function, a feature that allows for hands-free operation of the tailgate (even if the car is locked), as long as the key is in your pocket. The function is activated by swinging your foot under the rear of the car to open the tailgate. The technique needs a little practice, but once mastered its pretty useful.
A nice surprise was the 240-Volt two-pin plug port provided for the rear passengers. Very nifty, I thought.
A reverse camera is standard across the range, so parking is easy. The view from the very comfortable and adjustable driving seat is commanding.
The suspension easily soaks up imperfections in the road and rough surfaces and, on smooth tarmac, the Kuga offers a premium, luxury experience. It drives and feels like a car, albeit higher of the tar.
While the suspension has been tweaked to be firmer for better handling, the engineers have achieved an admirable balance between comfort and sharper handling. Its really very good.
Available in Ambiente, Trend and Titanium specification levels, with 1.5 and 2.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engines or 2.0 TDCi diesel.
The 2.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine has power and torque figures of 177 kW and 340 Nm, while the diesel gets 132 kW and 400 Nm with up to 40% less consumption than the petrol.
All Kugas have a four-year or 120 000km warranty.
Pricing is from R403,700 to R576,700. Fortunately they are well equipped, so what you expect is what you get.
The KUGA ST LINE SUV 2.0P 6AT AWD we drove costs R561 300, the diesel is R576 700. The model I like is the KUGA 2.0 TDCI TITANIUM POWERSHIFT 6AT AWD SUV at R530 600.
The Kuga is a good size, not too big, but also not cramped. With the the extensive specification, the above average handling and road holding and the great feel in mind, the Kuga must be on your list if you are looking at a medium sized SUV.