Ford might just be considering the Kuga for the Indian market. It is interesting to note that a single unit of the Ford Kuga was imported from the UK sometime last year for ‘R&D Purposes.’ Dig further into the data and you'd find a few parts and peripherals for the Kuga that have been imported into India. All of this does point towards possible homologation, and subsequent testing to prep it for the great Indian outdoors.
What is the Kuga?
The Kuga is a mid-size SUV that sits a notch below the Endeavour in Ford's portfolio. It is based on the same C1 platform that also underpins other global bestsellers from Ford - the Focus hatchback and the C-Max MPV. In terms of dimensions, it is a sizeable fella, measuring 4.5 metres long, 1.8 metres wide and 1.7 metres tall. It is also known as the Ford Escape in a few markets, which is in line with Ford's tradition of naming their SUVs starting with the letter ‘E’ (EcoSport, Explorer, Expedition, Endeavour... you get the drift).
Where does it fit in?
The 5-seater SUV takes on the likes of the Volkswagen Tiguan, the Hyundai Tucson, the Mazda CX-5 and the Kia Sportage globally. In India, it will slot into the same segment as the Hyundai, and its contemporaries such as the Honda CR-V and the Skoda Yeti. Naturally, that means a price range that spans from Rs 17 lakh to Rs 22 lakh.
What's under the hood?
The Kuga gets a choice of three diesel and two petrol engines globally. There's the familiar 1.5-litre TDCi diesel available in a 120PS tune, or a larger 2.0-litre TDCi that can be had with 150PS or 180PS. The bigger engine also gets an optional all-wheel drive and Ford's 'Powershift' 6-speed automatic gearbox, in case you do not fancy a front-wheel drive variant with a 6-speed manual. On the petrol front, Ford's 1.5-litre Ti-VCT motor finds itself in the engine bay of the Kuga, with either 120PS, 150PS or 180PS on tap. Only the most powerful version gets an optional all-wheel drive configuration.
As far as India is concerned, the Ford Kuga might just be a diesel-only offering, just like the Endeavour. The smaller 1.5-litre engine might power entry-level offerings, whereas the range-topping variant could get the 2.0-litre motor with optional all-wheel drive.
What about the interiors?
Well, it is a conventional Ford layout. If you have been in a Figo or an EcoSport, the design and the theme will seem familiar. In terms of goodies, the Kuga gets an 8-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, bundled with Ford's updated SYNC3 interface. Feel-good features include leather upholstery, dual-zone climate control, a massive sunroof and electric seats - pretty much the standard 20 lakh SUV fare, then. Just like the Endeavour, the semi-auto parallel park is available as an option for the Kuga internationally, but it remains to be seen if that option is ticked for India.
Does it look good?
Take a good look at the pictures and let us know what you think! We think it is handsome, with the right amount of muscle. It does look slightly MPVish in profile, and it could do with a tailgate-mounted spare wheel too, but we're just nitpicking. The family face with the big air dam and the projector headlamps looks swell, and so do the all-LED tail lamps. The design isn't as curvaceous as the Tucson, nor as outright boxy as the Yeti - it is a nice blend between old-school SUV charm and a modern runabout; which we like!
When is it launching?
Good question! While there's no official word from Ford, the Kuga might just make it to our shores in the second half of 2017. Oddly enough, the time of launch depends largely on how the market warms up to the Tucson. Simply because, the sub 25 lakh rupee SUV segment hasn't been a volume mover in the Indian context, and Ford will be wary of introducing an all-new product in a slow-moving bracket. For now, the American automaker looks more than willing to sit on the sidelines and play the waiting game, gauging market demand.
Ford currently retails two SUVs in the Indian market - the EcoSport and the Endeavour - both of which have seen a fair share of success. An SUV to bridge the gap between the two seems like a good idea on paper, but we'll need to wait and watch if Ford puts the plan into action.