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Ford Adds Kuga to European Lineup

Ford Motor Company is showing its all new European Focus-based Kuga Crossover SUV at the Frankfurt Auto Show in September. To be launched in early 2008, Kuga is a competitor to the Honda CR-V and the Toyota RAV4 (less the optional V6). Kuga adopts Ford’s new, distinctive kinetic styling cues and pulls them off very nicely.
Kuga Won’t Make it to the USA
This is another of Ford’s great looking European entries that we likely will not see in the USA. Kuga could slot in below the successful Ford Edge and Ford Escape Crossover SUVs in the American market. Likely, however, Kuga would prove to be too expensive to competitively position against comparable crossovers like CR-V and RAV4.

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There are now so many crossover SUVs on the market that it takes a truly distinctive effort to stand out from the crowd. The Kuga would have a chance. It has a distinctive front end appearance, tough and rugged looking grille and front fascia. It has muscular wheel openings and narrow gaps between the tires and the sheetmetal giving it a purposeful stance. Of course, Kuga has to have the front fender grills that have become de rigeur these days.
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Based on the European Focus platform (also Mazda3 and Volvo C30/S40/V50), the Kuga is available with FWD or AWD drive configurations. Powered by Ford’s European Durateq 2.0L 4-cylinder diesel engine, the Kuga promises good performance in European driving conditions. Having driven a Ford S-Max (large Crossover) in England and Wales for a week this summer, the 2.0L Durateq should be even sprightlier in the lighter weight Kuga.
Call Kuga a Crossover SUV
In Europe, Ford refers to the Kuga simply as a “crossover”. To our mind, this puts the vehicle in a netherworld where many customers will not be able to decide what it is… at least in the USA. In VehicleVoice parlance, we would have referred to the Kuga as a “Crossover SUV”. Sure, its a niggling point, but lets help the buying public categorize new ideas without thinking too much. In Europe’s defense, however, they have never had the super-strong SUV market we have had in the USA, so maybe simple “crossover” terminology is OK.
Ford’s Press Release on Kuga is shown below the fold.
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Ford is releasing the first details of its new Kuga crossover at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show, where the car will be previewed ahead of production early in 2008. The Kuga will be previewed alongside the new Ford Verve Concept small car and other exciting new products yet to be revealed on the show’s first press day, September 11th.
The All-New Ford Kuga in Brief
• Stylish Ford Kuga crossover will be previewed at Frankfurt Motor Show in near production form ahead of sales launch in early 2008
• Inspired by the iosis X Concept that was revealed at the 2006 Paris Motor Show
• Kuga is the latest showcase for Ford’s ‘kinetic design’
• Impressive on-road driving dynamics with substantial off-road ability
• Model range features ‘intelligent’ 4WD and FWD systems
• Powered by Ford’s acclaimed 2.0-litre 136 PS Duratorq TDCi diesel engine
• Benefits from strong Ford Focus lineage
• First crossover designed and developed in-house by Ford of Europe
• To be produced at Ford’s Saarlouis plant in Germany
Ford of Europe’s product portfolio is expanding again – and in another new direction. The new Ford Kuga is an exciting 4WD crossover that combines style with technology and promises impressive on-road dynamics coupled with substantial off-road ability.
The new Ford Kuga will go on sale throughout Europe during the first half of 2008. “When we unveiled the stunning iosis X Concept car at the 2006 Paris Motor Show I promised that in less than two years we would enter this segment with an all-new vehicle developed and built in-house,” said John Fleming, President and CEO, Ford of Europe.
“In delivering that promise, the commitment we also gave in Paris two years ago to add new and exciting niche vehicles to a newly energised Ford of Europe portfolio was also kept,” Fleming added.
“Kuga offers a rare blend of a wagon and SUV features together with coupé-like sporting qualities,” said Stephen Odell, Vice President for Marketing, Sales and Service, Ford of Europe.
“A major element of our strategy to return the Ford of Europe business to sustained profitability is the introduction of exciting new products – like Kuga – that attract new customers to the brand,” explained Odell. “The S-MAX proved to us that there is demand for vehicles which offer the customer universal usability for work, leisure and family roles and where “driving pleasure” is also very important.”

Unmistakably a Ford

One of the challenges of the Kuga development team was to give the vehicle Ford’s acknowledged driving quality while at the same time delivering substantial off-road ability.
For this reason, the Ford Kuga will be available with an intelligent four-wheel-drive system which contributes positively to normal road use and helps give the vehicle an almost sporty dynamic ability. The fact that the Kuga will also be available as a front-wheel-drive only version simply emphasises the crossover concept of the vehicle.
Kuga’s powertrain will feature Ford’s established and highly fuel efficient 2.0-litre, 136 PS Duratorq TDCi common-rail diesel engine mated to a Durashift 6-speed manual transmission. Further details of the Kuga powertrain will be released closer to launch in early 2008.
Kuga Design – Standing Out
“Our kinetic design form language is very flexible and is giving an exciting look to all our new vehicles,” said Martin Smith, Executive Design Director, Ford of Europe. “The iosis X Concept demonstrated how kinetic design could be adapted to the C-sized crossover segment of the market. All the expressive design elements of iosis X are clearly visible in the production vehicle. The new Ford Kuga is a dramatic addition to the Ford portfolio which develops our brand significantly.”
Kuga closely follows the proportions and basic dynamic forms of the iosis X. This relationship is enhanced by the paint finish in the same unique ‘Ice White’ body colour and the bold wheel arches are filled with the same alloy wheels, as seen on iosis X which will be available to customers as a 19-inch option. Strength and athleticism in the design are key attributes of Ford’s ‘kinetic design’ philosophy. Kuga demonstrates this through its dynamic lines, full surfaces and muscular presence. This athletic form language is highlighted with the bold kinetic graphics such as the trapezoidal front grills, rising belt-line and kick-up of the rear window graphic and the dramatic swept back headlamp shapes.
For the production Ford Kuga the coupé-like roof profile of the iosis X Concept has been adjusted to a slightly higher silhouette offering comfortable accommodation for five people.
The luggage compartment is accessed via a split tailgate and this, together with the divided rear lights, ensures the maximum full load width is available for loading and unloading.
Finally, the rear end design of Kuga also incorporates the graphic elements of ‘kinetic design’ such as the high mounted tail lamps, facetted rear glass and sculptured rear bumper. The rear bumper neatly integrates the tailpipes into the contours of the diffuser.
Kuga Interior – Space and Comfort
The interior of the new Ford Kuga has a spacious feel – and not just because of the large panoramic glass roof fitted to the preview model and available as an option in production.
The clean, ergonomic design of the instrument panel and centre stack converge into a voluminous centre console for maximum accessible storage. These interior components contribute to a comfortable surrounding for the driver and front seat passenger. The high seat and shoulder line position of the doors offers the opportunity for maximum glazed areas to give a light and airy environment for passengers and provides the driver a commanding view of their surroundings.
The materials chosen for Kuga’s interior also demonstrate the close links to the iosis X Concept. In Kuga we see once again technical materials, fine leathers and striking orange piping. The Ebony interior is set off by a centre console and details in the door which also feature the piano-white finish from iosis X. All these elements together show how Ford intends to enable Kuga customers in the future to personalise their vehicle.
A hint of the technology coming in Kuga is seen in the new Blaupunkt navigation system which incorporates a 7″ colour display to also show images from a rear view camera incorporated into the tailgate. This new feature, to aid reversing manoeuvres, will find its way to the production version of the Kuga.
“We’re very excited about Kuga, and believe that its blend of great looks, compact exterior dimensions, superb on-road driving quality, spacious and high quality interior and good off-road ability will allow it to stand out from the crowd,” said Fleming. “We can’t wait to see it on and off road early next year”

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