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Review: Ford Kuga Vignale

CAR OF THE WEEK: Kuga Vignale 2.0 TDCi (price range: £35,345)

FORD HAVE found themselves a surefire winner with the stylish Kuga Vignale.

This Kuga delivers cutting-edge styling and superior levels of refinement for the ultimate driving experience. With a range of advanced driver assistance technologies including SYNC 3 and Active Park Assist, you’ll always feel in control behind the steering wheel.

Every feature of the Kuga Vignale puts your needs first. From hands-free communications, to automatically responding to changing road conditions, all you’ll have to do is sit back and relax, whilst smart technologies work their magic.

The Kuga Vignale is an agile and often encouraging kind of Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) to drive. There’s a bit of elasticity to the steering feel and an occasional clunkiness to the ride quality over harsher urban roads if you go for the optional 19in wheels. The 178bhp 2.0 TDCi engine is nois at high revs compared with the premium-brand opposition, and its dual-clutch automatic gearbox can be a bit clumsy and slow to kick down - although both work well at a normal cruising pace. Acceleration feels fairly strong, but it comes as no surprise to discover that this Kuga gives up more than two seconds to its German-branded rivals on the claimed 0-62mph sprint.

COMFORTABLE

Where the Kuga Vignale certainly scores is the interior. The leather front seats are comfortable and tactile, but the rear ones are still rather thin in the cushion, and passenger space in both rows could be better. And for every material highlight and flourish around the cabin, there’s also hard plastic moulding which you don’t really appreciate in a £35k car, those cheaper materials may be okay – but in a £35k one they’re difficult to accept.

Ford has pulled out all the stops to make this current Kuga more economical. For example, an Active Grille Shutter is fitted to all versions. This closes the front grille, reducing aerodynamic drag when the radiator isn’t in need of additional cooling and then reopens it upon demand. Auto start-stop is also standard across the range. Features like an eco mode and a gear shift indicator help keep your right boot out of the carpet. All this effort has paid off in terms of efficiency. The 1.5 TDCi powerplant manages 64.2mpg and 115g/km. And the front-driven 2.0 TDCi 150PS model manages 60.1mpg and 122g/km - or 54.3mpg and 135g/km if you order it with AWD, figures duplicated by the top 2.0 TDCi 180PS AWD derivative. Go for the 1.5 EcoBoost 182PS variant and those figures fall only marginally to 37.7mpg and 173g/km.

You’re going to really need to want a Ford Kuga to pay this much for one. Ford knows that for the money being asked for ‘Vignale’ variants of this car, desirable premium- brand rivals await. But to equip one of those to this Ford’s standard would probably cost you the best part of £10,000.

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