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Ford to sharpen claws with sub-$30K new Kuga

Ready to pounce: Ford’s second-generation Kuga SUV will be available with plenty of toys when it arrives Down Under in April.

Front-drive, manual-only Kuga price-leader to help Ford sink teeth into SUV rivals


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25 Jan 2013

FORD’S second-generation Kuga compact SUV is likely to undercut the ancient Taiwanese-built Escape when it launches here in April, with a front-drive, manual-only base variant expected to come in at around $27,000 plus on-road costs.

The competitive new positioning means the new Kuga range could start more than $10,000 lower than the outgoing model that launched here less than a year ago with a steep starting price of $38,990 – just $1000 less than the most affordable Territory from the next size up.

Documents viewed by GoAuto show the new Kuga has been approved for Australia with three specification levels, with a 1.6-litre petrol engine available in two power outputs and a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel.

The entry-level Ambiente, with a 110kW/240Nm version of Ford’s acclaimed 1.6-litre EcoBoost four-cylinder engine driving the front wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox, will become the new price leader.

GoAuto understands this variant will be sharply priced to help Ford drive a wedge into the competitive segment, populated by big sellers like the Mazda CX-5 (from $27,880), Hyundai ix35 (from $26,990) and Honda CR-V (from $27,490).

The Kuga’s Ambiente trim level will also be available with a punchier 134kW/240Nm version of the EcoBoost engine driving all four wheels through a six-speed Powershift dual-clutch automatic transmission.

Mid-spec Trend and flagship Titanium variants will also be offered with this driveline combination or a 120kW/340Nm turbo-diesel, also paired with the six-speed Powershift transmission.

All variants will come with alloy wheels and a space-saver spare, the Ambiente running on 17-inch items, the Trend upping to 18 inches and the Titanium on 19-inch hoops.

The latter two variants will also get standard rear parking sensors but until Ford Australia releases official information in the run-up to the local launch, little else about the specification of each variant is known.

At the Sydney motor show last October Ford announced the new Kuga will debut the Blue Oval’s SYNC Emergency Assistance system in Australia.

The technology automatically alerts the emergency services and provides GPS coordinates via a paired Bluetooth phone if an airbag or fuel shut-off is activated by an impact and the occupants do not verbally respond to cancel the alert within 10 seconds of the system’s prompt.

Crash-test authority Euro NCAP awarded the new Kuga a maximum five-star rating and the car is available in some markets with autonomous emergency braking – although whether this will also apply to Australia remains to be seen.

Other technologies available on the Kuga include self-parking, blind spot monitoring, lane-keeping assistance, automatic high beam and road sign recognition.

An automatic tailgate activated by waving a foot below the rear bumper will also be available.

Ford sold 1107 first-generation Kugas last year, with supply and premium pricing hampering uptake.

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