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Geneva show: Ford’s Kuga attack

Revealed: The new Ford Kuga will hit the Australian market in the first half of 2013, little more than a year after the current model was belatedly launched Down Under.

Ford debuts new Kuga compact SUV ahead of Australian launch next year

8 Mar 2012

FORD of Europe has used the Geneva motor show to premiere the all-new Kuga compact SUV ahead of its Australian debut in the middle of next year.

The new model surfaces just one month after Ford Australia belatedly launched the current-generation model here, around four years after its global debut, with the option of two highly-specified petrol automatic variants.

This is not the first glimpse of the new Kuga as it made its global debut wearing Escape badges at the LA motor show last November and, as a part of the Blue Oval’s ‘One Ford’ strategy, it will be essentially the same car on both sides of the Atlantic.

The Geneva show car did, however, preview the diesel engine range to be made available from the car’s European launch later this year.

Kuga will be offered with the 2.0-litre TDCi turbocharged engine from the Focus small car in either 103kW or 120kW states of tune, optionally matched to a six-speed Powershift dual-clutch transmission.

While not confirmed, we expect Ford Australia will offer at least one diesel option, probably the more powerful of the two.

27 center imageFord will also sell the new compact SUV in Europe with the same 129kW 1.6-litre EcoBoost turbocharged petrol engine from the new US Escape, which would seem like a natural fit Down Under.

The US version additionally gets 125kW naturally aspirated 2.5-litre and 177kW 2.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engines, the latter of which will debut in the Falcon next month and could also join the Kuga range here as a performance flagship.

The new Kuga features a significant 82 litres more luggage space than the current model, as well as rear seats that fold flat at the touch of a button.

Technical features include Ford’s SYNC voice recognition and connectivity interface, and an Emergency Assistance system that notifies emergency services when car’s airbags or emergency fuel shut-off systems deploy, using the on-board GPS locator and the driver’s phone if it is Bluetooth-connected.

Automatic park-assist and blind-spot warning systems will be available, as will a hands-free automatic tailgate, operated simply by sweeping a foot under the rear bumper, that premiered on the Escape in LA.

Kuga’s all-wheel-drive system is said to adjust the torque split between the axles by assessing conditions 20 times faster than a human eye can blink.

Also included is the Torque Vectoring Control system from the Focus, which adjusts braking on the inside wheel to help cornering.

As we reported in December, the new Kuga is expected to eventually join Ford’s production migration to Asia, following on from the Focus, which Ford Australia will source from a new Thai plant in Rayong from mid-year.

Since the Kuga shares its platform with the Focus – being just one of ten global cars to do so – it is likely to start running down the same line in the near future.

Sourcing the car from Thailand would provide significant cost advantages for Ford Australia over the current German-sourced model, due to proximity and the free-trade agreement in place between Australia and Thailand.

Meanwhile, Ford also launched the all-new B-Max people-mover at Geneva, complete with a novel twin rear sliding door system that does away with traditional B-pillars.

As we reported last month, however, Ford Australia has elected not to import to Fiesta-based family car due to the historically poor sales of MPVs and a perceived clash with the forthcoming EcoSport sub-compact crossover due here in mid-2013.

The Blue Oval’s Geneva stand was rounded off by the Fiesta ST hot hatch, which will come here next year as a rival for the Volkswagen Polo GTI, and the next-generation Transit-previewing Tourneo people-mover.

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