Gone at the days when car companies in Malaysia kept a tight lid on the details of a model about to be launched. No longer does one company go to extremes to keep pictures of its new model being seen before launch and getting the police to hassle anyone who shows a picture on the internet. Today, it’s all about grabbing the attention of buyers and making sure they don’t commit to another model just yet – even if the new model won’t be launched for many months.

Pre-launch activities serve to provide information in advance so that those in the market for a model in a particular segment know what’s coming and can learn more about it before it arrives in showrooms. Of course, with the internet, most models launched in Malaysia have already appeared elsewhere so the looks and the general specifications are no secret. What is not usually revealed is the package that will be in the Malaysian version and of course, the price.

Sime Darby Auto Connection (SDAC) has been one of those companies that has extensive pre-launch activities to introduce a new model (though some tend to be rather long that when the model is actually launched, it’s a surprise that it is being launched!). They’ve done it with the Ranger, Fiesta and Focus and now they’re doing it again with the new Kuga SUV, the successor to the Escape.

This time, though, we’re told that the launch will be ‘within the next few months’ and according to a SDAC insider, the vehicles are already ‘near Malaysia’. While the specs have been revealed, the pricing is not known but SDAC will certainly be looking at rivals like the new Honda CR-V and the Mazda CX-5 and position the Kuga’s price competitively.

Power from the turbocharged 1.6-litre EcoBoost petrol engine goes to all four wheels through an intelligent all-wheel drive system that operates all the time

Malaysians will get the 1.6-litre EcoBoost petrol engine and 6-speed automatic transmission. The output of the turbocharged engine is 180 ps with 240 Nm available from 2500 rpm. Only the all-wheel drive (AWD) will be imported from Ford’s factory in Europe and this is an ‘intelligent’ AWD system which can pre-emptively reassess conditions 20 times faster than it takes to blink an eye. The computer immediately adjusts the power split between the front and rear wheels to give optimum grip and performance.

[Click here to read more about Ford EcoBoost Technology]

The package that SDAC will be offering is the high-speed Titanium one so the Kuga will come with an extensive list of standard equipment, including a number of new technological features such as Torque Vectoring Control, Roll Stability Control and of course, advanced braking and stability control systems.

(Sunroof option not available for Malaysian version)

There’s also SYNC – Ford’s connectivity interface allows the driver to not only use voice commands to make adjustments to the audio system but also allows handsfree operation of a mobilephone (provided it has Bluetooth). This interface can also be found in the Focus.

Other standard equipment includes cruise control, dual-zone automatic air-conditioning, pushstart button and keyless entry, and ISOFIX attachment points for compatible childseats. One thing that’s sure to impress the neighbours is the automatic opening of the rear door – just position your foot under the rear bumper and the door will automatically open upwards (you need to have the key fob in your pocket).Press a button on the underside of the door and it closes, or it can also be operated manually.

Sensors in the rear bumper detect your foot underneath and open the rear door automatically

The styling of the Kuga departs from the traditional SUV design (which some may be unhappy about) and takes on a sleeker profile. It still has ‘SUV elements’ like a roof rail and generous ground clearance as well as a high seating position. Four colours choices will be available – white, black, silver and a brownish shade known as ‘ginger ale’.

To register your interest in this new Ford SUV and receive updates, fill in the form at the Kuga microsite. We’ll also have first driving impressions shortly.

To know more about other Ford models or ask for a test-drive, visit www.ford.net.my

Prefer the old Escape? Click here to view secondhand units available for sale in our 24-hour showroom

Want to buy the new Kuga but need to sell off your present car? Use Motor Trader and you could find a buyer fast. Click here for more details!

[by Chips Yap]


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