Features
3 avr 19

Ford comes clean in Amsterdam with new, electrified Kuga

In the face of the European CO2 targets for car manufacturers, Ford needed to step up its game in the electrification area. At a Go Further media event in Amsterdam yesterday, the Blue Oval said it will be massively electrifying its line-up, both in the LCV and the passenger car department. Spearheading Ford’s e-offensive will be the brand-new Kuga, the star of yesterday’s reveal.

After a round of industrial restructuring announcements affecting factories around the globe, Ford says it's ready for the future. It presented a plethora of electrified novelties in the Dutch capital, including mild hybrid versions for the Fiesta and Focus, and a “self-charging” hybrid version of the Mondeo estate.

Most journalist had come to see the brand-new Kuga, though, which on top of the previous two electrified options will also come as a plug-in hybrid. After the Peugeot 3008, the new Kuga is just the second C-segment crossover in Europe to offer this type of drivetrain.

The Kuga’s set up is quite different from the Pug’s, though. No electric engine integrated into an 8-speed auto and mated to a turbo-charged 1.6 petrol engine here, but a strictly efficiency-focused 2.5 petrol unit that has no direct connection with the e-motor. Ford uses a so-called power-split transmission, which kind of works like a CVT.

Petrolheads will question the driving fun of such a system as it tends to flatten out the acceleration curve, with the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid as a case in point. Ford promises an electrifying driving experience, though – we will have to wait and see.

 

 

Three degrees of ‘e’

The Kuga PHEV’s battery pack contains 14,4 kWh of electric juice – a bit more than the Peugeot 3008 – for an all-electric range of 50 km (WLTP) and a combined CO2 rating of just 29 g/km (development target). That makes it best-in-class. Don’t go running to the showroom just yet: the plug-in won’t be available for another year or so.

If plugging in is not feasible or you don’t like the hassle, then the Kuga HEV might be the right option for you. It uses the same powertrain as the plug-in hybrid model, but with a smaller battery and a more modest electric motor. Rated at 130 g/km, it remains to be seen how popular this Kuga Hybrid will become as it hardly offers any fiscal benefits. It has one advantage over the PHEV nonetheless: it can be ordered with four-wheel drive.

The lightest shape of electrification is the so-called MHEV variant, for mild hybrid electric vehicle. The word ‘electric’ here is to be taken with a pinch of salt: the e-motor takes the shape of an integrated starter generator that can only assist the combustion engine – in this case a 150-hp 2-litre EcoBlue diesel – but never drive the wheels by itself. It has an estimated CO2 rating of 132 g/km.

Also diesel and petrol

Next to the electrified options, Ford will continue to offer standard combustion engines. On the petrol side, that’s the 1.5 EcoBoost (120 or 150 hp) that can shut off one of its three cylinders to save fuel. Remarkably, it combines port injection with direct injection for extra fuel efficiency and cleaner emissions.

On the diesel side, on top of the aforementioned mild-hybrid model, there is the 1.5 EcoBlue that puts 120 hp on the front wheels or the 190-hp 2-litre EcoBlue with all-wheel drive. Both diesels can be mated to an 8-speed automatic, the origins of which are not clear at this point. It might be the same Aisin unit as the one used by Peugeot, Citroën, Opel and Volvo or an in-house developed device.

As to the road dynamics, the third-generation Kuga loses up to 70 kg compared to its predecessor, even though it has grown considerably, both in terms of footprint and of interior space. It does seem a bit smaller, though, probably because it sits a few centimetres lower to the ground.  

Safer and better connected

To connect to the outside world, the Kuga offers a FordPass Connect embedded modem that turns the vehicle into a mobile WiFi hotspot for up to 10 devices. It also enables live traffic updates and entertainment streaming.

In the ADAS area, Ford says the adaptive cruise control with stop & go and lane-centring technologies help drivers negotiate stop-start and highway traffic with greater confidence than ever before, while predictive curve light and sign-based light help drivers see more clearly in the dark.

Ford’s Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection technology will feature a new Intersection functionality, which can automatically apply the brakes to avoid or mitigate the effects of accidents if the driver is turning across the path of oncoming traffic and the system determines an imminent collision.

Moreover, Evasive Steering Assist uses radar and a camera to detect slower-moving and stationary vehicles ahead and provides steering support to enable drivers to manoeuvre around a vehicle if a collision is imminent. Should an accident occur, new Post-Collision Braking technology helps to reduce the impact of a potential secondary collision by automatically applying moderate brake pressure when an initial collision event is detected.

It would be great to see these technologies come standard, but they are likely to be grouped in packages and offered at a premium. Prices of the new Kuga have not been disclosed yet, but they will probably be close to the Opel Grandland X’ and Peugeot 3008’s.

Oh, and there's one more thing

 

If crossovers is what the people want, then give them plenty, Ford must have thought. It gave us a sneak peek of a compact new model that slots between the EcoSport and the Kuga and therefore competes with the Hyundai Kona, Mazda CX3 and DS3 Crossback. It will go by the name Puma, but it bears little resemblance to its namesake of the 90s, which was a rather successful Fiesta-based sports coupé.

 

 

Authored by: Dieter Quartier