Ford has announced that the Kuga SUV will be offered in the Malaysian market towards the end of the second quarter of this year. The model is a significant advancement over the Escape which it replaces, particularly in being more ‘green’ and more high-tech.
“The all-new Ford Kuga is going to be an exciting addition to our Malaysian line-up,” said David Westerman, Regional Manager, Asia Pacific, Ford Export & Growth Operations. “While retaining the all-new Kuga’s SUV charisma, Ford has evolved the vehicle to incorporate remarkable new technologies, more space, a higher quality feel and improved capabilities.”
Mr. Westerman added that the Kuga is the centrepiece of Ford’s strategy to leverage its global leadership in SUVs to deliver a comprehensive line-up of smarter vehicles to the world. It boasts an impressive array of new technologies and enhanced features, including Ford’s global intelligent all-wheel-drive system that offers best-in-class handling, which combined with other features, ensure improved dynamics, traction and cornering control.
Ford engineers designed the Kuga with ultra-high-strength steel beams in the body structure and specially designed reinforcement around the roof to ensure structural rigidity and strength. This has enabled the model to score the maximum 5-star rating (with an overall protection score of 88%) from in the independent EuroNCAP last month.
Other highlights include the segment-first hands-free tailgate and what is claimed to be one of the quietest cabins in the segment.
While the Escape was jointly developed with Mazda in the late 1990s (the Mazda version was known as the Tribute), the Kuga has been developed entirely by Ford. The powertrains are also Ford’s own and should feature EcoBoost technology which provides higher output from a smaller engine displacement while achieving better fuel economy.
Malaysians have a wider choice of Ford models these days compared to the other ASEAN countries (with the exception of Singapore) as the Malaysian market is no longer a ‘subsidiary’ market for Ford, meaning it has no direct involvement in the business unlike previously when it had a joint-venture company. This market is now under the Export & Growth section and can import models from virtually any country, provided Auto ConneXion (the Ford distributor) believes there is a good business case and the model can meet local regulations and conditions.
For example, in Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines, the EcoBoost engine is not yet available but Malaysia has it in models like the Focus ST, Mondeo and S-MAX. The other countries are dependent on what is assembled in Thailand which is the ASEAN production hub for the Ranger, Fiesta, Everest and Focus. There are some small-volume imports, eg the Thai market gets the Territory imported from Australia while Vietnam, being a lefthand drive country, also has some ‘unique’ models. The Kuga will be imported from Ford’s factory in Spain.
To locate a Ford showroom to register your interest in the Kuga, visit www.ford.net.my
[by Chips Yap]