Ford Kuga goes 4x2

I have to admit that I did not approach my road test of this Ford Kuga 2.0 TDCi in a particularly positive frame of mind. After all here was Ford’s 4x4, basically stripped of its most important element – four wheel drive!

What was the point of a 4x4 with just two driven wheels?

Ford Kuga

The fact that – at the end of my time with the new Kuga 2WD – I was more than a little fond of it, speaks volumes. I was not alone. My motoring writing colleague (hello Norman!) who picked up the Kuga next, was apparently also quite smitten.

Needless to say, the front-wheel-drive Kuga is very similar in most ways to the 4x4 Kuga which I tested last year.

As I said in that first encounter, you can think of the Kuga as something like a Ford Focus on stilts. Certainly it takes the best bits of the Focus and blends in a higher driving position and greater ground clearance.

The result is neat, modern and distinctly in the European Ford style. Ford describe the looks as combining elements of estate car, SUV and coupé. Well, I’m with them on the first two... not sure about the coupé looks.

Most of the time the Kuga 2WD and 4x4 are not dissimilar. That’s because, in normal road conditions, your Kuga 4x4 disconnects the power to the rear wheels and becomes front-wheel-drive. Only when it needs extra traction, is power to the rear wheels triggered.



Thereby rests the main reason for the Kuga 2WD. Why add the weight, cost and complexity of a four-wheel-drive system unless you really need it? With so many 4x4s tackle nothing tougher than the school run, do you really need four-wheel-drive?

It is clear that many people like the off-road, SUV style. Some like the more commanding driving position, some like the easier access of being able to step into them. Whichever, lifestyle looks or practicality, people like SUVs.

So, Ford’s new 2WD Kuga gives them that. But, cutting the extra engineering four-wheel-drive engineering makes this Kuga is lighter on your wallet and lighter on the road. Result? You save exactly £2000 on the purchase price and you get higher mpg and lower emissions.

On my mix of country and city driving I got an average of around 37 mpg, which is about two mpg better than with the four-wheel-drive version. The combined figures of 46.3 mpg suggest there is greater economy to be had if you exercise even more care with the right foot, Emissions down 10 g/km to 159 g/km of CO2.

As you would expect, the Kuga is very practical transport with good access and good space for four, possibly five passengers. If you are expecting the loss of the rear transmission to mean a lower load floor, however, you will be disappointed. It would have required major re-engineering to lower the boot floor.

Despite its loftier height, the Kuga corners with very little roll. Indeed, I found the handling well balanced and reasonably neutral. If you provoke it the front wheels will want to plough on in a corner, but it is all very controllable.

The two-litre diesel engine is the only option on the 2WD version, but it is a good unit. Only very slightly gruff in the usual diesel manner, it is surprisingly willing, giving the Kuga a reasonable turn of speed.

The price of the Ford Kuga 2.0 TDCi Titanium is £22,445 (exactly £2,000 less than the 4WD version as I said). That makes it quite competitive with the equivalent Focus, offering family car buyers another slightly different option.
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