Motoring review: The hi-tech safety feature that takes Ford Kuga to the limit
A few years back I remember driving a Ford S-MAX people carrier around west Dublin with technology on board that could help avert an accident — and/or a speeding fine. It was only available on limited, more expensive versions of the Ford range at that stage. I came across it again recently when I was testing the new Kuga medium-sized crossover SUV. Ford confirmed it is now standard on all Kuga models. It is called Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA) and at the time of my S-MAX drive there was a lot of discussion and endorsement from international safety experts at a special Road Safety Authority (RSA) conference in Dublin about how it could reduce serious accidents by 30pc to 50pc a year. Essentially ISA, when switched on, automatically slows the car to the prevailing speed limit. I tried to break some limits, but the car doggedly obeyed the limit. If I really wanted to dispense with ISA, I’d have had to suddenly plunge my right foot on the accelerator. As speed limits changed, the car adjusted to them — increasing and decreasing. It works via a small camera near the top of the windscreen detecting the speed limit sign. As soon as it does, the technology adjusts the amount of fuel and power going to the engine. It does not apply the brakes; rather it adjusts power at its source. It also works in tandem with a satnav speed system — excellent for country roads where there may be fewer signs. I believe it should be on every car now and it shouldn’t be taxed (VRT, VAT are levied because ISA pushes up the pre-tax price of the car). Sadly, there are other examples of potential life-saving elements getting similar taxation treatment. And so to the rest of the car: The Kuga, always a roomy motor, has expanded further in this latest manifestation. Sometimes it can happen that too much general room distorts proportions and space distribution. In the case of the Kuga, there is a good high-driving position but the benefits, for me, were partially erased by my seat being too high and close to the dashboard no matter how far I racked it downwards. Now, you simply have to get those things right — it is where the most frequent user of a car resides. I mention it as an example of how some of us might like a more accommodating driving-seat position. I definitely needed more room. That’s an apparent contradiction when you consider it is 44mm wider, 89mm longer and there’s a 20mm stretch in the wheelbase to yield more shoulder, hip and headroom for all.