She bought my advice and a Kuga

AS a motoring correspondent, friends and readers ask for my advice when buying a car.

Other people’s attitude to me is ‘what, ask that eejit?’ They feel their own grasp of the subject would be sullied by asking a professional.

When someone — foolish or enlightened or anywhere in between — phones to ask my opinion, I am polite and courteous.

Sometimes the inquirer phones me back, not only to say that they appreciated my advice but also that they acted upon it.

One such instance happened not so long ago, when a dear lady of my acquaintance called and told me that she was tired of negotiating the hills in Cork City during winter when ice and snow made life impossible and the roads impassable.

She, therefore, wanted to get rid of her regular, two-wheel-drive machine and purchase a mid-range 4x4, having initially scoffed at suggestions that she should consider the Audi Q5 and the BMW X3, on the basis that they were outrageously priced (and I agree).

I then set her on the path of looking at the Ford Kuga, the Hyundai ix35, the VW Tiguan and a few other 4x4s.

Eventually, the lady concerned bought the Ford and got a good deal on it, too, I have no doubt, such are her formidable negotiating skills.

And, I am delighted to report that ever since, she has been as happy with the Kuga as she felt she ought to be. The relief in this quarter, I can tell you, was massive, because if the car had turned out to be a dog, or in any way problematic, I would still be getting it in the ear — by the bucketload.

The Kuga, of course, is Ford’s only real soft-roader and for a company which has not had a stellar record in the SUV department, it has made a really good job of this one.

The Kuga is easy on the eye, near the top of the class in terms of driving dynamics and a decent enough proposition, both on the economy front and on list-price, by comparison with its rivals.

One only has to scroll through the current Ford product list to see that the company is as close to the top of its game as it is possible to be and the Kuga certainly does not let the side down.

Ford was forced into this market niche because it could not afford to let its rivals have it to themselves, so lucrative has the soft-roader market become. Like many of its competitors, however, the Kuga is more about image and perception than anything to do with off-roading.

The furthest off-road many of these cars will ever get is their owners’ driveway. But that’s not the point here.

The Kuga, the Tiguan and the rest of them are bought for what they say about their owners rather than for driving ability.

We tested the two-litre TDCi Titanium version with Powershift 4WD and in all the areas that mattered it proved itself to be a very worthy beast, indeed.

Even though equipped with a four-wheel drive system, this Kuga will certainly spend the majority of its working life with the power being fed to the front wheels only (as the car’s gadgetry only puts the rear wheels to use when it deems it necessary).

Some, but not many, of the Kuga’s underpinnings come from the Focus and possibly the most important of these is the excellent control-blade multi-link rear-axle system, which imbues the Kuga with very pleasing handling characteristics, particularly for such a tall vehicle.

And, of course, for many purchasers, the height of the vehicle is one of the main selling points, but the down side to that is the inevitable body roll.

Again, though, Ford has done a decent job in containing this major potential flaw and while the necessarily stiff suspension does its job, it does not translate into a harsh ride for those aboard.

The engine is not the most powerful, but it does the job. There is some 135 bhp on tap and the 10.6 second 0-100 kph dash is reasonable, as is the 183 kph top speed.

The economy is decent too, returning some 6.8 l/100 km (approx 41 mpg) over the combined cycle.

In Titanium trim, the Kuga is expansively appointed; leather upholstery, sat. nav., electric drivers’ seat, automatic Xenon lights, automatic wipers and a pile of other stuff, which remarkably adds just €2,000 to the base price.

The cockpit displays Ford’s customary intuitive touches to make driver and passengers at home. The space for those in the rear is a bit on the stingy side, but that did not detract from the overall appeal of the package.

I’m glad to say that when my original opinion of this car was asked for, my recommendation was forthcoming and was acted upon. I am equally delighted, Nodlaig, that having bought it, you found it was exactly what you wanted.

Phew.


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Kevin O’Hanrahan, clinical psychologist, HSEWorking life: HSE clinical psychologist Kevin O’Hanrahan

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