The Kuga joins the ever-widening Ford line-up in Malaysia this week with the media preview this afternoon and the commencement of retail sales at showrooms tomorrow. Malaysia is the only country in ASEAN (with the exception of the tiny markets of Brunei and Singapore) to get this all-new Ford SUV as Thailand and Indonesia are not expected to have the model yet. In fact, those two larger markets than Malaysia also do not have models with Ford EcoBoost Technology either.
Priced at RM159,999 (inclusive of insurance and roadtax in Peninsular Malaysia), the Kuga is the successor to the Escape which was Ford’s successful compact SUV during the past decade. However, unlike the Escape which was jointly developed by Ford and Mazda and which shared some common components, the Kuga is entirely Ford’s own effort and there is no Mazda equivalent (the Mazda CX-5 has definitely nothing related to the Kuga either).
The Kuga is another product of global One Ford strategy which has unified product development globally not only for efficiency but also to saves costs. Where previously Ford had models engineered differently for different regions (eg there was a Focus for Europe and a slightly different one for North America and another variation for Asia), the recent models like the Fiesta, Focus and now the Kuga have all been engineered to be similar worldwide. The only variations are in equipment and certain features which are necessary due to specific regulations in certain countries.
“With the savings from the global One Ford strategy, we have been able to put in more features for our models,” said David Westerman, Regional Manager, Asia Pacific, Ford Export & Growth Operations.
“The all-new Ford Kuga elevates what’s possible in an SUV, distinguished by smart and safe technologies, with the power and performance capabilities to always be adventure-ready,” he said.
Imported from Ford’s factory in Spain, the Kuga has a 1.6-litre turbocharged engine with EcoBoost Technology that bumps power output to 180 ps and torque to a maximum of 240 Nm. An Active Grille Shutter (also found on the latest Focus) further improves on fuel efficiency by maximising aerodynamic efficiency. Power delivery is via a 6-speed torque converter automatic transmission.
The drivetrain has intelligent all-wheel drive which distributes torque between the front and rear axles according to surface conditions to achieve maximum grip and stability. The computerised system is said to analyse conditions 20 times faster than the blink of an eye.
There is also Torque Vectoring Control and Curve Control which adjust wheel speeds when necessary to neutralise understeer or oversteer and keep the vehicle on the course that the driver has chosen. So even though the Kuga would be categorised as an SUV, it is also a capable performer on the highway.
The interior has been optimised for spaciousness, cargo capacity and maximum utility. For those who needs lots of space for their gear or even mountain bikes (up to 3 can be accommodated), there’s 60:40 adaptable rear seating and up to 1603 litres of cargo volume.
The Kuga also comes with the voice-activated, hands-free communication and infotainment Microsoft-powered system known as Ford SYNC. This system allows the driver to make and receive calls, reads out SMS text and plays selected music tracks. The system complements the standard Sony audio system (with 9 speakers) and a 4.2-inch TFT liquid crystal display panel.
One feature which Ford is proud of is a first in Malaysia – a powered rear door that automatically opens when the owner waves a foot under the rear bumper. The door unlocks and rises slowly, which will be most welcome when both hands are carrying groceries. For safety, the door’s movement stops whenever resistance is encountered.
The Kuga has already been crash-tested by the independent EuroNCAP organisation and has been awarded the full 5-star rating. It also received an overall protection score of 88%, the highest-ever for a compact SUV.
The Kuga is the segment’s only vehicle to offer 7 airbags, one of which is to protect the driver’s knees. The airbag technology is more advanced than before with enhanced chest protection using a reconfigured curve-shaped tether system that reduces the impact of the airbag on the passenger in the event of deployment. The front passenger airbags also have adaptive venting technology that diverts some of the gas from the airbag inflators to match deployment force to the occupant’s size, minimising risk of injury. Seatbelts are equipped with pretensioners and load-limiting systems, along with ISOFIX childseat attachments.
When the airbag does deploy – which means a severe frontal collision has occurred – an integrated SOS Post-Crash Alert System immediately activated the hazard warning lights and sounds the horn to attract attention. Other actions taken in such serious accidents are the automatic unlocking of the doors and fuel flow cut-off.
The Kuga comes with a 5-year (or 200,000 kms) factory warranty and for Malaysia, Sime Darby Auto ConneXion, together with Ford, include an Extended Service Plan (ESP) at no extra cost. This is a 3-year (or 60,000 kms) maintenance programme that covers parts and labour free of charge. In addition to routine inspection and maintenance services, Ford’s ESP covers free replacements for selected wear-and-tear items, including spark plugs, shock absorbers, engine belts, brake pads, and wiper blades. So it is quite a money-saving package for owners in the long-term, reducing motoring costs.
“The 5-year warranty combined with Ford ESP is designed to help Ford customers cut costs while increasing the resale value of their vehicles,” said Lee Eu San, MD of Sime Darby Auto ConneXion which distributes Ford vehicles in Malaysia. “We want to give our customers peace of mind when they own a Ford.” Mr. Lee added that the Ford ESP is not just an introductory incentive and will be offered with new Ford passenger models for the foreseeable future, thanks to the support from Ford.
For more information about the Kuga and other Ford vehicles in Malaysia or to locate a dealer, visit www.ford.net.my.