The rain in Spain falls mainly — at least it would appear — on the area just north of Jerez where Ford held the international launch of its new crossover vehicle, the Kuga. And while the Spanish region may do the world’s best sherry, it certainly doesn’t build any
satisfactory drainage into its road system.
After a torrential downpour which lasted the best part of three hours, the centre of Jerez was slowed to a snail’s pace as the main dual carriageway in and out of the city flooded to a depth of six inches.
But while locals struggled to cope with the soggy, wet conditions, the Ford Kuga — with its intelligent all-wheel-drive system — splashed its way through soaking anything and anyone who got in its way.
When it goes on sale in Scotland in June, the Kuga will be available only with the excellent
2.0-litre TDCi engine. A 2.5-litre five-cylinder petrol model, which will also be available with an automatic gearbox, will join it later in the year.
I’d suggest though that anyone buying the big petrol model would need their head examined. The diesel delivers all the performance you’d ever require: not only will it hit 62mph from standstill in 10.7secs, but it’ll return 44mpg.
Aimed fairly and squarely at the burgeoning sports utility vehicle segment — Ford marketing men are targeting the action-packed family who want to be seen to be rugged, in that ‘we-can-go-anywhere’ style — the Kuga is going head-on against the market leader, Honda’s CR-V.
Clever designing, including a well-designed split-opening tailgate — offering access to the upper tailgate section only, or both sections opening simultaneously — certainly enhances the Ford’s position.
Squat and powerful looking on the outside, the interior of the Kuga continues the robust attitude. The high driving position manages to incorporate a sporty feel and that’s
carried through to the car’s handling.
In monsoon-type conditions which would have had ducks dashing for shelter, the Kuga’s
intelligent 4WD system — with electronically-controlled variable torque distribution up
to 50:50 split — made light of the horrendous conditions.
Horrendous? As I said earlier, Spanish roads aren’t used to such volumes of rain;
and neither are the drivers. Over a 24 hour period, I saw four HGV vehicles which had
toppled in the conditions after aquaplaning, and five cars which had ended up in ditches
after taking corners too quickly.
But while the locals struggled with the wet Spanish tarmac, the Kuga remained surefooted. That said, it’s not cheap: the Kuga Zetec starts at £20,500 with the Titanium £22,500. But if you want to personalise your car, there are three ‘option’ packs ranging from £500 to £2000!
Have no doubt though, the Kuga will sell. Coming hot on the heels of the hugely impressive S-Max, which rapidly established itself as class leader, the Kuga looks likely to achieve the same lofty success.