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New Kuga is out to make a big impact and is sure to put the boot into its rivals

Unlike some car manufacturers Ford actually listen to their customers and the all-new Kaga is testimony to that.

They carry out exhaustive surveys with the current owners of their vehicles in a bid to iron out any little niggles and correct them with a mid-life refresh.

Very noble indeed, but they've brought out a whole new model just over four years after the initial launch so was the old offering really that bad?

On the contrary.

The first generation compact SUV was an astoundingly good vehicle considering how late they were to the crossover party.

You see, it's 2008 and the Celtic Tiger hangover is just starting to kick in, as is the Europe-wide economic headache. Not exactly the best time to launch a car like this.

Thankfully, unlike the bigger gas-guzzlers the Kuga was not as heavy on fuel and was well ahead of the posse on CO2 emissions.

The only real chink in its armour was size.

Outside it had rugged good looks and a Tonka toy feel of invincibility but climb on board and the cabin space was really no bigger than a Focus.

More importantly the boot was non-existent meaning it was nigh on impossible to carry anything bigger than an overnight bag.

For some (mainly growing families), the illusion was shattered.

That's all been put right and the boffins in the white coats have pulled, stretched and tweaked the chassis to give it an extra 81mm.

That one small change has resulted in an epic 1,930 litres of load carrying space – increased by a massive 570 litres.

This not only gives rear seat passengers more head and elbow room but limousine-style legroom.

Up front, the dash is a familiar one with a similar layout to that of the C-Max and Focus and comes with Bluetooth, air con, cruise control, leather multi-function steering wheel (Zetec).

Titanium models will get Ford's clever voice-controlled SYNC system which intigrates your phone, music and messaging and will even make an emergency call in a different language.

Drive-wise, the new Kuga is a lot more sprightly with the 2.0 litre TDi engine generating a very decent 140bhp giving it plenty of grunt despite its hulking body.

On country roads, it soaks up bumps and potholes with absolute ease while around town she handles like a hatchback and cruises effortlessly on the motorway.

The big surprise though is the economy – returning a mega frugal 53mpg (5.3 litres/100km) while the emissions are kept in Tax Band B meaning annual duty of €280.

But the 'piece de résistance' has to be the automatic tailgate.

A simple wave of a Jimmy Choo-clad foot under the rear bumper sees the boot lid magically open.

Load all your luxury items on board, take a step back and watch it close as everyone in the car park looks on in envy.

Prices for the new Ford Kuga start at €33,450.


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