A week with a hot Kuga

The ST badge is most popular with the Fiesta and Focus models, now Ford brings performance and style with the Kuga ST Line.

When the latest Ruby Red Kuga arrived at the office I remembered back to when the very first Ford Kuga arrived in South Africa, I collected it before its local launch to photograph the media press-kit. When I first laid eyes on that model I remember thinking, this is going to give the competition some chest pains, and it sure did.

Not over the top, just distinctive

The first characteristics we noticed on the new model were the 19-inch alloy wheels and grille finished in gloss black, clearly indicating that it is the ST Line. Upon further inspection we noticed the body coloured side skirts, door handles, slightly different front splitter also finished in body colour paint and of-course the ST Line moniker found on the front fenders. It seems while Ford could have gone mad on the exterior styling, they kept it simple, clean and yet made it distinctive from the other derivatives.

One of the party tricks is the hands-free keyless tailgate, by merely placing or moving your foot underneath the gloss black diffuser on the rear bumper, the boot will automatically open and close. This comes in handy when carrying bags or in my case, light stands and a tripod. Watching your friends and family doing ballet manoeuvres behind the car is priceless.

It’s not on top, its inside

While the changes to the exterior of the Kuga were kept simple, it is on the interior where you will find all the exciting additions. The ST Line receives red stitching on the multifunction steering wheel, the partial leather seats with Dinamica inserts and extends from the centre console to the gear selector. Sunk into the facia, you will find an 8-inch touch screen with the Ford’s SYNC 3 System and voice control managing the two USB ports and Bluetooth.

Our test model was also fitted with the optional navigation system and my personal favourites, Lane-keeping Aid and Adaptive Cruise Control. While the latter not only automatically regulates your speed but also brake if there is a slow moving vehicle in front of you, the Lane-keeping Aid will make small steering adjustments to keep you within the lines. While you can’t just sit back and let the car go on its own, this is as close to autonomous driving you will get currently in South Africa.

Beneath the bonnet

The motivation for the test model comes in the form of a 2-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission able to send the power to all four corners with its Intelligent All-Wheel-Drive system. The powertrain produces 177 kW and develops 340 N.m of torque which is ample for a vehicle such as this. The Kuga was delivered with an average fuel consumption readout of 12.4L/100km, even with my best efforts, I only managed to bring that average down to 11.8L/100km.

Price and warranties

The 2-litre turbocharged EcoBoost ST-Line without the optional extras will set you back R 552 400 which includes a 4-year/120 000 km warranty and a 6-year/90 000 km service plan.


When the Kuga first arrived in South Africa it had little competition in terms of styling, in my opinion. This is not the case with the latest generation, with competitors such as the VW Tiguan and Mazda CX-5 the Kuga has its work cut out. If you can look past its thirsty habits and like me, approve of the understated styling tweaks, the ST Line variant is a very capable and comfortable vehicle within its segment.

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