Road Test: Ford Kuga ST-Line

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Can Ford’s sportiest SUV stop drivers migrating to the premium brands? Alex Grant finds out.

SECTOR Medium SUV   PRICE €31,000-€40,000   FUEL 4.4-8.7l/100km   CO2 115-199g/km

Ford is as much a mainstay of Europe’s fleet market as it is a household name for consumers, with businesses long reliant on its full-size family cars. But any stereotype of the Mondeo as the archetypal company car is not rapidly becoming outdated, because those with a choice are opting for the Kuga instead.

SUVs are big business for Ford; its three-model line-up was refreshed last year, getting consistent styling and top trim levels for European customers. Ford sold 230,000 of them in Europe last year, 150,000 of which were Kugas. That’s outselling the Mondeo three to one.

The ST-Line trim is an important introduction for a traditionally top-weighted sector, adding a bodykit with 18-inch wheels and a leather and alcantara sports interior plus most of the useful options. It adds presence to what’s already one of this segment’s largest cars.

This takes list pricing into premium SUV territory, and the Kuga feels like a better fit here since its last refresh. Soft plastics, silver accents, a thick steering wheel and larger screen all lift the cabin, and there’s plenty of space on board. But it’s still cluttered, with buttons hidden behind the gearstick and infotainment that’s less intuitive than some rivals.

Unusually, compared to other ST-Line products, the Kuga is offered with all three diesel engines. The 120hp 1.5-litre diesel is a good fleet option at 115g/km CO2, though the auto takes that to 124g/km. And the 2.0-litre diesel is available with 150hp or 180hp, the latter always with four-wheel drive.

We tried the 180hp unit with the PowerShift auto; a good spec for motorway cruising, though thirsty at around 7.0l/100km, and quite sensitive to rough surfaces thanks to its large wheels. Opt for the Mondeo-like, 4.7l/100km 150hp unit and front-wheel drive, and the Kuga makes a great alternative to the traditional company car options.

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Alex Grant

Trained on Cardiff University’s renowned Postgraduate Diploma in Motor Magazine Journalism, Alex is an award-winning motoring journalist with ten years’ experience across B2B and consumer titles. A life-long car enthusiast with a fascination for new technology and future drivetrains, he joined Fleet World in April 2011, contributing across the magazine and website portfolio and editing the EV Fleet World Website.