If you’re looking for a SUV for under R350K, you cannot ignore the performance and value from the Ford Kuga EcoBoost.
Ford Kuga EcoBoost review by John Beale
After giving us the Kuga 2 years after international launch a few years back, Ford
finally brought us the updated Kuga right on time, just when things are hotting up in the mid-size SUV category. All new look, a heap of tech and two new engines, one of which was the 1.6-litre turbo Ecoboost unit that also does justice in the Fiesta ST!
Detuned in the FWD Trend model to deliver 110kW and 240NM, the unit is plenty powerful to pull the larger Ford Kuga around. It competes here quite nicely against rival 2litre units, sporting more torque than most of them, and larger overall interior. There’s even considerable kick back and torque steer from the front wheels during pull off! The torque curve is strong enough to keep the Kuga going at highway speeds and overtake with ease.
Only, as with the Ecoboost unit in the Fiesta, 2nd gear pull-away can lead to the unit stalling too easily. The other benefit of smaller capacity turbocharged units is their frugal nature, and I achieved around 8.4l/100km, which is just over claimed figures. You do have to drive quite carefully to achieve this as the nippy unit begs to be driven.
A superb 6 speed manual box that is now familiar in the Ford range, does justice in the FWD units, and it’s a perfect fit with the Ecoboost engine.
The Kuga's handling
Handling shows typical front wheel characteristics and the weight of the Kuga does come as a surprise which is where the plethora of safety systems, including Curve Control which brakes wheels individually if you’re cornering too quickly to slow the vehicle down, comes into play. Brakes show good feel, and the steering is meaty at speed but light enough when parking, which is a huge difference to the lifeless steering from Kia and Hyundai.
The Ford Kuga EcoBoost will more than likely be bought by those looking for a leisure / family focused vehicle so safety is a key priority. Ford sports the highest NCAP crash rating for the Kuga in class, thanks to 7 airbags, ISOFIX child seat attachments as well as Antilock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Emergency Brake Assist (EBA) and Electronic Stability Control (ESP).
The Kuga boasts the largest load area, and ample rear legroom with tray tables for the little ones in the rear. As a whole the Kuga feels big and spacious with generous large windscreen and big dash.
Interior quality and materials are probably some of the best of all of the Ford Range. Doors shut with a solid thud, and buttons feel quality when touched. A healthy dose of standard spec includes leather electric heated seats that are exceptionally comfortable and supportive, keyless start, SYNC Bluetooth streaming audio system, steering wheel and voice control, auto folding mirrors, rear parking sensors and dual zone climate control. Eight cupholders adorn the interior and the centre console swallowed a 1.5litre coke bottle and closed! My only gripe here is the overcomplicated SONY sound system with its plethora of unnecessary buttons.
Ford Kuga EcoBoost conclusion
The Kuga is an exceptional little vehicle, and offers the functional size, with more standard spec than even the Koreans can muster up. Don’t be put off by the 1.6litre, this little Ecoboost unit is more than capable and delivers good fuel consumption. It’s no surprise there are over 440 units leaving showroom floors a month, so if you’re looking for an SUV for under R350 000, this has to be on your list. One of the few SUVs in this price range that reward both passengers and driver.
Ford Kuga EcoBoost - Price
Ford Kuga 1.6 EcoBoost Trend price – R324 900 (110kW / 240 NM)