As small SUVs are popular, competition for this class is intense in domestic and foreign markets. Volkswagen Tiguan and Nissan Qashqai are well known foreign cars that can be seen in domestic and having similar class to small SUVs. In domestic, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, and Ssangyong KorandoC also have similar class. Of course Ford already introduced a number of cars having similar class and appearance, and gasoline-fueled American type ‘Escape’ is the example of it.
One thing that should not be left when talking about Ford Korea’s new car ‘2016 New Kuga’ is the relationship with ‘Escape’. The relationship between Escape, like a brother car coming from One Ford plan, and Kuga has been already seen in Fusion, Mondeo and etc. However, as distance between their origins, the United States and Europe, is almost the half way around the world, powertrain configurations and driving characteristics are fairly different. Kuga from Europe reflects typical popular formula ‘compact SUV of Europe style’.
▲ In One Ford plan, American type is Escape and European type is Kuga.
▲ There might be some differentiated points, but no big difference in appearance.
In fact, it might be hard to find the difference between the appearances of 2016 New Kuga and Escape like the game ‘Find the hidden picture’. As is well known, this is because of Ford’s unique plan that packages in the form of responding to the market’s characteristic. Of course, it uses locally specialized strategy in major markets, and it’s not hard to find a manufacturer showing strategy model.
(Of course, it’s not hard to find a manufacturer showing this kind of strategy model that locally specialized strategy and models in major markets)
Also, we can’t say Ford is unusual when looking at current trend which is making various configurations in modular structure.
2016 New Kuga is the first diesel SUV model in domestic market (by Ford), and equipped with 2.0L Duratorq TDCi diesel engine that has both high performance and fuel-efficiency. With maximum 180-horsepower at 3,500rpm and maximum torque 40.8kg·m in the range of 2000-2500rpm, it is able to gain a great level of torque that reaches almost 90% of maximum torque even in low rev count such as 1,500rpm. When observing a torque curve, about 90% of maximum torque comes out of the range from 1,500 to 3,500rpm, and maximum output comes out of 3,500rpm.
The transmission for use with the engine is a powershift with a six-speed wet dual clutch system, and this combination seems to be a countermeasure for the engine’s high torque. In addition, intelligent AWD as well as high-tech Torque on Demand system provide optimum torque to each wheel, and driving power distribution even reaches rear wheel of maximum 60%. It also shows outstanding response ability in situations that road conditions are frequently changed. Especially, New Kuga’s suspension and handling are well refined through tests in Nürburgring, Germany.
▲ The screen and the existence of ‘SYNC2’ made the dashboard and the design of center fascia fairly unique.
▲ The table for backseat passengers seems a fairly good idea.
2016 New Kuga has the similar level of size to competitive cars with 4,525mm in length, 1,840mm in width, and 1,690mm in height, but 2,690mm of wheelbase is anticipated in aspect of interior space. Some things can be seen as advantages such as electromotive adjustable seat at driver’s seat of front seats and angle-adjustable seat that has reclining function at back seats. Also, we can find some creative ideas inside a car such as tables for passengers.
The most notable features at dashboard are only few buttons and the existence of voice recognition system ‘SYNC2’. In addition, based on infotainment system from Sony brand, most of interfaces are integrated with touchscreen system and the number of buttons is reduced to a minimum. Of course, it might be fairly confused when first encountered, but due to touchscreens, there won’t be big difficulty. One thing to be desired is that mostly English-based, so I doubt the availability of ‘SYNC2’ in domestic.
(Convenience) Devices in 2016 New Kuga are Hands-free Tailgate allowing of opening a trunk with only foot movements and active park assist helping park with audio guidance and sensor. auto start-stop system is also applied so that it makes fuel economy effect of approximately 5-10% and realization of fuel efficiency of 13.0km/L(based on new fuel economy standards) which is the highest level.
▲ The switches for ISG function or Active Part Assist are at handy positions.
2016 New Kuga is a model integrated various safety as well as comfort technology, so intelligent protection system protecting the passengers’ safety is applied by being many precision technologies intimately harmonized. In a safety-cage structured car body with super high strength steel plates, there are electronic stability control that improves driving safety and 7 airbag systems deploying at driver’s seat, passenger seat, and sides of all the seats.
All sorts of embedded sensors largely improved car’s reactivity to driving surroundings and safety. It also has many safety functions such as lane departure warning system that minimizes lane departure danger, adaptive cruise control that maintaining steady speed and safe distance from the car ahead, front crash sensor and etc. In case of lane departure warning system, a driver can set up the level of system’s intervention. If it is set to the strongest level, it will be able to turn back a car by directly getting involved in steering system.
Active city stop function sensors risks of car-to-car collision, and if a driver couldn’t step on the brake, it automatically activates brake to avoid shocks or minimize them. Moreover, automatic function to control a glancing angle and slow-running cornering lamp are applied to Bi-Xenon HID headlamp including LED daytime running light which maximizes Kuga’s existence, so it can secure a clear view during night by controlling the light depending upon driving conditions.
▲ Its inside space was no better than expected since I felt a unique sense of difference that it makes me stuffy.
▲ Two-rows space is a bit stuffy for adults to sit.
Acrofan attended 2016 New Kuga Media test drive event, taken place on December 8 in Yeongjongdo, Incheon, and took its test drive. A test drive, consisting of high speed, city driving, and national highway course with bad condition roads, let us check its abilities in various situations. Especially, in downsizing trend, synergy created by the combination of attractive items such as 2L diesel engine with fairly large output, dual clutch transmission, and a four-wheel drive.
After looking at the car outside and checking car’s outside dimension, the feeling when riding a car is more likely to get some degree of expectation. In case of Kuga, when first rode on the car, there was a sense of difference that didn’t reach the expectation. The position of a driver’s seat is a bit higher than expected. Although the sight is wide and the sight covered by A pillar is small, (but) it feels little smaller than the car’s actual measurements. Roominess of New Kuga is no better than expected as legs reach steering column when the sheet gets little higher and etc.
2,690mm for wheelbase is not that small, but the space for backseat is also to be desired. When an adult male with the height of about 180cm sits, his knees don’t reach the front sheet, but the space left seems tight. In the limited space, Kuga’s packaging seems to be focused more on the trunk, but there is much to be desired that it could also be structured with two-rows more putting back. Also, due to the flat bottom of seats, backseats slightly seem high.
One more thing to be desired at interior composition around driver’s seat is the position of transmission. Since the transmission is positioned a bit higher toward the dashboard rather than the center tunnel, in parking status, it is uncomfortable to check a display with pushing the buttons of air conditioning and function. Of course, there might be no choice of moving the position of transmission as a cup holder, parking brake, center console box and etc. are attached under it. The volume of center console box is not enough, so there is a larger feeling of desiring at interior composition.
▲ It is using a powertrain set for mainly performance among 2L diesels.
Due to dual clutch transmission and relatively strong engine, the departure is easy, and outstrip acceleration is also satisfied. A gear ratio has a normal (usual) setting; in 5th gear, at the same 2,000rpm, it would have gone at 90km/h, and in 6th gear, at the same 2,000rpm, it would have gone at 110-120km/h. It gives comfortable feeling with moderate level of shift during city-drive. Shift speed is slightly slow for avoiding shift shocks, so it shows similar smoothness to a torque-converting transmission during city-drive.
2L TDCi engine is easy to handle as 90% of maximum torque comes out from the speed of 1,500rpm and there is not much turbo lag at outstrip acceleration. However, there are some noise and vibration. Especially, the vibration when a car stops is stronger than vibration of the other similar cars. The noise occurred during driving is not irritating, and aerodynamic noise occurred during the condition of the speed getting over 80-100km/h is also acceptable when considering the car’s weight class.
Settings of suspension and damper are too strong (little hard) that shocks given to body are big when a car goes a little faster at a speed bump. However, meanwhile, the car doesn’t move much and there is almost no secondary counteraction. When considering the recent cars using smooth setting for having convenience and stability, Kuga has a unique setting. Arrangement of the brake’s pedal off is accurate as much as a driver steps, but rather than repelling power, there is a feeling of controlling the strength of a brake in artificial resistance.
▲ The engine is easy to handle as it has a wide range of practical torque.
Originally, this car is not focused on performance, but running performance is outstanding as it has a 2L diesel engine with a large output system when considering engine displacement. When accelerates to the aim of the maximum speed at a long straight section, it seems weakening after the speed of 160km/h, and no more acceleration is performed before and after the speed of 190km/h. At that time, it is before and after approximately 5th gear 4,000rpm and 6th gear 3,000rpm, and I think that there is a limitation at the speed of about 200km/h. As a practical matter, this performance has nothing to be desired at most of the highways
Also, during high-speed driving, I could feel the value of an electronic four-wheel system and suspension refined at Nürburgring. The suspension was slightly hard, stiff, and unpleasant in a city, but it becomes smooth and reliable at high-speed driving, and a feeling of steering or straightness is excellent. Centroid is a bit high at high-speed cornering, but it gives a feeling of holding the road, and it is generally easy to handle.
One of New Kuga’s features is that although most of driving power at high-speed driving is distributed to front-wheels, New Kuga distributes by following the ratio of 7:3(front-wheels : rear-wheels) and sometimes it increases the driving power of rear-wheels until 60%. Information about distribution of driving power is checkable through dashboard, but it is only simply appeared as driving power distribution at four-wheel drive is in fact arranged automatically. Generally, it seems that constant four-wheel drive system enhanced driving performance.
▲ Operating various functions is easy for the first ride, but fuel efficiency is slightly disappointed.
Intuitive approach is possible for operation of a car without difficulty. The button of the steering wheel can control a trip computer. Also, we can check most of functions in maximum 3 stages as the menu shows a tree structure at the edge of the screen. There is nothing hard since infotainment system can be set with touchscreen after opening a menu. One thing to be desired is that most of them are in English except for navigation used in domestic, but there is no big part to desire expect for ‘SYNC2’.
Fuel efficiency during test drive was about 11km/h, which is not much impressive even when considering rough riding. A bit fast driving without considering fuel efficiency during general drive which includes the highest-speed test might be the reason of disappointing fuel efficiency. However, that there is only ISG as a function of fuel efficiency management in a car could also be the reason. Apart from the availability, many cars have a separated eco mode for maximizing fuel efficiency, but Kuga shows a differentiation by only connecting D/S of transmission to ISG setting.
Although the car has a strong powertrain, another reason why power performance and fuel efficiency are disappointing is the car’s weight. 2016 New Kuga’s empty vehicle weight is 1860kg, and it is fairly heavy compared to other competitive cars of the same weight class even considering that it is a four-wheel drive. Official fuel efficiency is total 13km/L, city 12km/L, highway 14.6km/L. I consider what if it was reduced in its weight and trying to have a better fuel efficiency.
▲ It is expected that the competition of 2016 imported compact SUV market will be more intense.
Marketability of Ford’s new car from Europe in domestic is attractive, and I felt how it is possible to produce this much different car depending upon regions in the same brand. Ford’s models from Europe are more adapted to European preferences than other brands in Europe, and they have faithful basics such as high running performance more than any other European brands. In addition, as this ‘European preference’ is also attractive in domestic market, European diesel models such as Focus and Mondeo are doing well in domestic.
2016 New Kuga’s the biggest charm might be practicality come from simplicity. At the most popular moderate size of segment and high accessibility, competitiveness created from the change of structure and several specifications for convenience added to the weight class and form factor is not to be ignored. Especially at general car configuration, it is so optimized to a family car that the most suitable target market for this car is thought to be a thirties family with one or more young kids.
2016 New Kuga, reinforcing Ford’s diesel model lineup in domestic followed by Focus diesel with the start of All-New Mondo, is a model that contains European preferences more than European brands. Also, it is expected a lot in aspects of competitiveness and achievement at compact SUV market which is the most popular segment. It is equipped with many specifications for convenience preferred in domestic and competitive price, so it could be an excellent suggestion for family cars of the main target markets, thirties to forties.