Ford's new Kuga feels the need for speed
Following up on its pledge to bring serious performance to all customers across as many vehicle ranges and price points as possible, Ford has given its compact crossover the ST treatment.
If a Ford carries the ST badge, then it has to offer something more than an aggressive, sporting appearance. So with the new Kuga ST-line, there will be a bold exterior look but that style will come with substance.
In the case of the compact, Ford Focus-derived SUV this means a sharpened, firmer chassis, more responsive steering, a lower ride height, intelligent all-wheel drive and the option of a 1.5-liter 180bhp EcoBoost engine under the hood.
Styling upgrades will include the honeycomb grille synonymous with Ford's sportier models, side skirts, a front skid plate and a rear roof spoiler. Owners will also get a choice of 18- or 19-inch alloy wheels while inside, the car will be equipped with sports seats and a sports steering wheel.
"Ford ST-Line models are designed to deliver a fun to drive experience, and we placed a strong focus on ensuring that Ford's first performance-orientated SUV in Europe offered the same driving characteristics as the Fiesta ST-Line, Focus ST-Line and Mondeo ST-Line models," said Frederick Vrancken, Kuga ST-Line vehicle dynamics engineer, Ford of Europe.
As SUV sales begin to truly dominate the automotive markets in Europe and the US, consumers are increasingly looking for high-sided vehicles that offer even more of the aspects expected from other vehicle types, be it increased luxury, increased rear passenger space, or increased sportiness.
According to the latest research from IHS, SUVs and crossovers already account for 23% of European vehicle sales (up 6% year-on-year) and by 2020 they're forecast to represent 27% of all vehicle sales on the continent.
"Ford will offer a Kuga for every lifestyle," said Roelant de Waard, vice president, Marketing, Sales and Service, Ford of Europe. "We predict sales of 200,000 Ford Kuga, EcoSport and Edge SUVs in Europe this year -- up by 200 percent from 2013."
The Kuga ST-Line is available to order from August with first deliveries expected towards the end of 2016.