SOME CARS PERFORM much as you expect. Some really surprise you. Of the two Fords I’ve been driving recently, one falls into each camp.
Bigger and better: the new Ford Kuga
The Ford Kuga was in line with my expectations. Of all the mainstream car makers, Ford most consistently builds cars which appeal to keen drivers, and the Kuga does nothing to detract from that reputation.
Our test car was the 2.0 TDCi 163PS 4×4. Although I have driven it before in Spain, this was my first chance to tow with Kuga and to drive it on familiar roads.
With a caravan in tow on the public highway, the Kuga felt stable, always in charge of the van and with more than enough torque (251lb.ft to be precise) for towing duties. Even with a big twin-axle van with a MiRO of 1470kg behind it the 2.0-litre diesel engine was man enough for the job.
At the test track, the Kuga was almost as impressive. However, our car came with 17-inch wheels shod with ‘mud and snow’ tyres. These four-season all-rounders will come in handy if you live in the back of beyond or regularly use farm campsites, but on dry Tarmac they don’t offer the same bite as summer tyres. In the lane-change manouevre a little more grip would have been welcome. It’s worth noting that summer tyres are fitted if you opt for larger alloy wheels.
Inside, the new Kuga is a big improvement on its predecessor, with more space in the back and a bigger boot. However, it’s not as roomy as the likes of the Honda CR-V or Mitsubishi Outlander.
Room with a view: the Tourneo Custom
I can’t imagine anyone complaining that the Ford Tourneo Custom isn’t big enough inside. Based on the Transit, this MPV really is a ‘van with windows’.
The Tourneo Custom turns that put-down into a badge of pride. Our test car had no fewer than nine seats, each with head and legroom to spare. What’s really remarkable is just how much boot space is left with every seat in place. The vehicle is long enough for three rows of seats and plenty of room for luggage.
Perhaps that’s not surprising, given the size of the Transit on which the Tourneo is based. What will raise your eyebrows, though, is the way it drives.
Forget any preconception about awkward gearboxes, a bouncy ride and noisy cabins. The Tourneo Custom is really rather car-like. Yes, you sit up high, but once you get used to the upright driving position the Tourneo Custom rides bumps well, corners with precision, and is refreshingly quiet at speed. Around town the tight turning circle, well weighted controls and good visibility make it easier to drive than you might expect, too.
Unfortunately we haven’t had the chance to tow with the Tourneo Custom, but the engine’s 284lb.ft of torque and 2.1-tonne kerbweight bode well for hauling a tourer. It’s a shame the legal towing limit is a modest 1600kg.
As well as the relatively low towing limit, the price may put you off. Our Tourneo Custom 300 SWB Limited has a price tag of £32,454. The Tourneo is a lot of car, but that’s a lot of money.
Even so, driving the Tourneo Connect was a pleasant surprise.
Ford Kuga 2.0 TDCi 163PS Titanium Powershift
85% of kerbweight 1451kg
Max towing limit 2100kg
Towball limit 105kg
Ford Tourneo Custom 2.2 TDCi 300 SWB Limited
85% of kerbweight Not legal
Max towing limit 1600kg
Towball limit 112kg