Review: Ford Kuga

It's the most technologically advanced vehicle Ford has ever sold in Australia, utilising enough computer power to send a monkey to the moon, and back, and it's not a luxury sedan, or even a mega truck, it's just a medium SUV - the new Kuga.

With the Australian market buying up Mazda CX-5s like half price Easter eggs, Ford is set to cash in with what it's calling its Smart Utility Vehicle.

The Kuga - an attractive looking little mid-size family hauler - has the kind of advanced technology you'd expect to find in a European prestige car, and similar levels of quietness and refinement, yet it's got a starting price of just $27,990 (although the one you really want, the Titanium top-spec version, is bumping on the $50k ceiling).

The Kuga can park itself, using radar, has adaptive cruise control that allows you to set a speed and a minimum distance from vehicles in front of you and then sit back and do very little, it has Active City Stop, which can prevent low speed shunts in traffic, again using radar and automatic braking, and it has lane departure and blind spot warnings. Wander out of your lane, dopily, and it will vibrate the steering wheel to let you know.

Plus, if it all goes wrong and you do have a crash, the Kuga will call the emergency services and let them know, using GPS and your mobile phone.

The Kuga also has a hands free tailgate, so you can just soccer kick your foot under the rear of the car and the boot will open without you even touching the key.

Not all of these features are standard on all variants, and a reverse camera isn't even an option on the base models, amazingly, but it's still a startling level of technology for a basic family car. Wheels has just driven the car on launch in Adelaide and found it a refined, quiet and even sporty handler, a bit like driving a Ford Focus on stilts.

The only downside is that the 1.6-litre petrol engine has to work its guts out to produce any kind of performance. As a result, the 2.0-litre diesel is actually quieter, because it has more torque and doesn't have to work as hard.

The Kuga could be a big seller for Ford, which would be welcome news for the struggling company.

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