THE new Kuga has arrived in South Africa, offering one of the most technologically-advanced, smart sport utility vehicles (SUVs) with five-star safety and improved fuel efficiency.Ford is the second-largest SUV brand in the world and every model is backed by Ford’s global SUV expertise and robust 50-year heritage in the segment. “We are thrilled with the new Kuga offering,” says Tracey Delate, General Marketing Manager, Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa. “With stunning new design inside and out, smart technologies, fuel-efficient yet powerful engines, and five-star safety, it’s a vehicle that will stand out for our customers.” As preference for SUVs continues grow around the world, so too does the demand for greater choice. The new Kuga joins the best-selling EcoSport compact SUV and the sophisticated Everest seven-seater SUV to offer a wide range of models across all key segments.Buyers have the choice of two petrol engines in the 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre EcoBoost petrol units, as well as the 2.0-litre TDCi turbodiesel engine. Depending on model, there is the option of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive models, and manual or automatic transmissions to suit customer needs.As before, three specification levels are available, starting off with the value-oriented Ambiente, the mid-level Trend and the range-topping Titanium.The new Kuga features Ford’s latest design language for a bold, smart look that is shared with other Ford SUVs. Its large upper trapezoidal grille and a smaller lower grille are flanked by sleek new headlamps complemented by functional, stylish fog lamps.Steeped in SUV expertise from around the Ford world, the new Kuga designers’ objective was to combine stylish form with everyday function for the interior of the SUV. “Our designers went to great lengths to ensure the vehicle and its many different features, large and small, are smart yet provide welcome benefits to even daily routines,” Delate adds. “The Hands-Free Power Tailgate, for example, is something customers have really grown to appreciate. No matter what you might find filling your arms, from sports gear to shopping bags or a toddler or two, the Power Tailgate can make your life easier.”Kuga drivers will find an array of useful convenience features making the vehicle very user-friendly, including ISOFIX anchorage-points, an electronic parking brake, improved storage in the centre console, as well as rear tray tables and rear air vents on the Trend and Titanium models. The new Kuga offers up to 1603 litres of cargo space with the rear stadium seating folded – ideal for weekend escapes. In addition, the Kuga steering wheel and air-conditioning controls operate through fewer and more easily distinguishable buttons and switches, making the controls easier to recognise and navigate. All Kuga automatic models include paddle-shift controls that enable drivers to manually select gears, adding to Ford’s fun-to-drive ethos.Ford has drawn on more than 22,000 comments and insights gained from research clinics and surveys to ensure the new version is the most customer-centric system to date. Kuga drivers can operate the SYNC®3 8-inch touchscreen in the same way that they use their smartphones. A new interface features larger, easier to operate buttons and enables pinch and swipe gestures for the first time. The new Kuga now offers Perpendicular Parking functionality, in addition to the semi-autonomous Active Park Assist technology. Using additional ultrasonic sensors, Perpendicular Parking at the push of a button enables drivers to locate parking spaces alongside other cars as well as parallel to the road, and steers the vehicle into them while the driver controls the accelerator and brake.The new Kuga relies on Ford’s powerful yet extremely efficient 1.5-litre EcoBoost engine. Two output levels are offered, comprising a unit with 110kW and 240Nm of torque in the front-wheel drive six-speed manual derivative.A 132kW version of the 1.5 EcoBoost engine is provided on the models equipped with the six-speed automatic transmission – available in front-wheel drive guise and with Ford’s Intelligent All Wheel Drive.The petrol engine line-up is topped by the powerful 2.0 EcoBoost, which produces 177kW and 340Nm, and is available exclusively with all-wheel drive and the six-speed torque-converter automatic.For diesel fans, the impressive 2.0 TDCi turbodiesel engine remains, producing 132kW and a substantial 400Nm torque peak. Power is delivered to all four wheels through the responsive PowerShift dual-clutch automatic transmission.All models come standard with Ford Protect, including a four-year/120 000km comprehensive warranty, three-year/unlimited distance roadside assistance and five-year/unlimited km corrosion warranty. A five-year/90 000km service plan is included on the TDCi models, with 15 000km service intervals. The petrol Kuga models have 20 000km service intervals, and are sold with a four-year/80 000km service plan. — Supplied.