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Geneva show: Ford unveils smarter Kuga

Smarter: Ford’s European-built Kuga medium SUV gets the Blue Oval’s latest Sync 3 connectivity, along with a range of new safety technologies such as Cross Traffic Alert.

Ford’s updated Kuga gets mini-me Edge SUV design and a pile of latest technologies


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23 Feb 2016

FORD’S facelifted Kuga has been revealed at the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona ahead of its formal public unveiling at next week’s Geneva motor show, proving it indeed will adopt the Ford family trapezoidal grille and other styling cues from new-generation vehicles such as the Edge and Everest.

Ford Australia has confirmed the upgraded model will be launched in Australia, although timing and final specification is yet to be decided.

The Spanish-built medium SUV will be launched in Europe in about the third quarter of this year, indicating that we can expect it in Australia late this year or early 2017.

Ford Australia will be looking forward to the revised version as sales of its contender in one of Australia’s most important categories slumped 26 per cent last year, to 4344 units, ranking it 11th behind rivals such as Mazda’s CX-5 and Toyota’s RAV4.

Changes to the new version include the adoption of Ford’s latest connectivity system, Sync 3, a new 1.5-litre diesel engine, perpendicular hands-free parking, an upgraded all-wheel-drive system and improved city-stop automatic braking.

New headlights get adaptive switching technology along with LED daytime running lights.

Announcing the midlife rejuvenation for Kuga, Ford of Europe vice-president of product development Joe Bakaj said technologies to be offered in the vehicle would be cutting-edge.

“The sophisticated redesign has given Kuga a fresh and modern feel, while Sync 3 enables drivers to communicate with their vehicle and connected devices in seamless ways that would have seemed impossible just a few years ago,” he said.

To be spread across other Ford models with scheduled updates, Sync 3 acts more like a smartphone, and now permits Apple CarPlay and Android Auto interfaces.

Ford says the system allows drivers to control audio, navigation and climate functions plus connected smartphones using simple, more conversational voice commands.

The company says its new system drew on more than 22,000 comments from drivers, as well as its own research clinics and surveys “to ensure the new version is the most customercentric system to date”.

The voice-activated operation is new more sophisticated. Says Ford: “Simply by pushing a button and saying ‘I need a coffee’, ‘I need petrol’ or ‘I need to park’, drivers can locate nearby cafes, petrol stations or carparks, and find train stations, airports and hotels.

“Kuga drivers can operate Sync 3’s eight-inch touchscreen in the same way that they use their smartphones. A new interface features larger, easier-to-operate buttons and enables pinch and swipe gestures for the first time.”

The steering wheel and air-conditioning controls have been changed to make them more intuitive, while all automatic Kugas will feature paddle-shift controls that enable drivers to manually select gears while keeping their hands on the wheel.

An electronic parking brake replaces the lever unit, while – in Europe at least – Kuga gets a hands-free tailgate.

The new Kuga gets a new 88kW 1.5-litre diesel engine that is unlikely to come to Australia. Its performance is well short of the Kuga’s current Duratorq diesel that bangs out 132kW of power and 400Nm of torque.

One technology that should lob here in Kuga, at least on top variants, is the Cross Traffic Alert warning system that alerts reversing drivers to approaching traffic.

In Europe, Kuga also gets Park-Out Assist to help drivers exit a parallel parking space.

The latest City Stop automatic braking system now works at up to 50km/h, instead of the previous 30km/h.

The Kuga will be launched in Europe alongside the Canadian-built Ford Edge large SUV, with which it shares a strong family resemblance.

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