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First Look: Ford’s new Kuga – the compact SUV they claim can do 235mpg

The new Ford Kuga, which will be wider and longer than previous models, is expected to arrive in December with three hybrid variations. The new incarnation of the SUV, which was originally launched in 2008, has been completely updated. Based on a new platform called C2, the next Kuga will be 89mm longer and 44mm wider than before and include a wheelbase that has been stretched by 20mm. According to Ford, the Kuga will deliver “class-leading” space for passengers in the back seats.

Although the trunk capacity has not been announced, it is expected to be much larger than the current 406 liters. Also, a rear bench can be moved back to increase passenger space or forwards to add 67 liters to the trunk’s capacity. Ford of Europe Exterior Design Director George Saridakis told Auto Express, “The extra width has allowed us to get more definition in the wheel arches. This is much softer and more streamlined than the previous model, which was a bit more angular and masculine.”

“The most practical shape is a box, so you have to balance the practical aspect with the emotional connection. And we’ve done that; we’ve found a good balance that delivers more than the predecessor in terms of space in a package that looks appealing,” he added.

The three variations will include the Titanium, ST-Line, and Vignale. All come with a front skid plate, rear diffuser, body-colored mirrors, LED daytime running lights and alloy wheels. The ST-Line models will be distinguished by a gloss-black front grille and diffuser, a roof-mounted spoiler, twin-exhaust system and larger 18-inch alloys, while the Vignale models sport a satin chrome finish to the front grille, bumpers and roof rails, as well as Windsor leather seats.

Eventually, the SUV will be available with five powertrains: three hybrids, as well as petrol and diesel models. The 1.5-liter turbocharged EcoBoost petrol engine, inherited from the Focus, will be available in 119bhp or 148bhp. Diesel options include a 119bhp 1.5-liter EcoBlue and 178bhp 2.0-liter EcoBlue, which have the choice of an eight-speed automatic box.

The first of the models will feature a 48-volt mild-hybrid system matched with the automaker’s 148bhp 2.0-liter EcoBlue diesel engine. It will include a belt-driven starter/generator as opposed to a standard alternator in order for the vehicle to recoup and save energy during braking to enhance its acceleration. Ford says the EcoBlue Hybrid powertrain will deliver 56.5mpg, with CO2 emissions of 132g/km.

The all-wheel-drive Kuga Hybrid, which will feature a 2.5-liter petrol engine and an electric motor driven by a small lithium-ion battery, will be able to travel in full-electric mode for short periods. The company says it will deliver 50.4mpg and CO2 emissions of 130g/km. This variation will be available in 2020.

Meanwhile, the Kuga Plug-in Hybrid with a 2.5-liter petrol engine and an electric motor will be powered by a 10.3kWh lithium-ion battery, which will deliver 223bhp, 235.4mpg and CO2 emissions of 29g/km. Though the powertrains will vary, the SUV will bear identical design features. “It’s powertrain-agnostic, in a way. First and foremost it’s the Kuga and it’s not distinguishable other than that,” Saridakis said.

The new cabin architecture, inherited from the Focus hatch, will be the automaker’s first SUV with a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, though entry-level models will come with analog dials. Also, an eight-inch touchscreen on the dashboard enables access to Ford’s SYNC 3 infotainment system, which can be used with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

In addition, the FordPass Connect will convert the SUV into a mobile hotspot, with connectivity for as many as 10 devices at the same time. The Vignale and the plug-in hybrid feature Active Noise Control, which regulates engine noise in the cabin through three microphones and emits sound waves for noise-cancellation. The new Kuga will be available in December.