Review: We Test Drive the Sporty Ford Kuga ST (2019)

Ford Kuga ST

The Ford ST brand is much loved in South Africa. Synonymous with sporty good looks and great performance, for many car enthusiasts owning an ST-line Ford is a badge of honour. But, what happens when you’ve outgrown the carefree hatchback lifestyle that the popular Ford Fiesta ST and Focus ST so perfectly personifies? For most people adding a dog, children, and adult past times (like trips to the hardware store and Saturday bike rides in the park) means upgrading to a more practical SUV. But, just because you’re an adult now doesn’t mean you can’t have fun, the Ford Kuga ST-line is indeed proof of that.

But, is this sportier version of Ford’s Kuga the right choice for you? I put it to the test to find out if it’s worth making the space in your garage.

It’s got the looks

Ford Kuga ST

While the Kuga line-up offers a wide range of options, this performance-inspired option is sure to get your heart racing. The Kuga ST-Line delivers a bold design that mirrors its athletic character. With Ebony Black finish for the front grille, along with a striking honeycomb design for the lower portion of the grille and matching sports mesh finish on the fog lamp bezels, there’s no doubt this car turns heads. An integrated body kit, featuring high-gloss front skid plate, side skirts, mirrors, door handles, rear roof spoiler and wheel arches further contributes to the eye-catching, sporty appearance of the vehicle. I absolutely love the look of this car; it’s a testament to the fact that no matter how old you are, you can still inject a little fun into everyday life.

The interior of the Kuga ST further re-iterates the sporty vibe. Details like sport seats trimmed with partial leather, red contrasting stitching for the seats, steering wheel and gear lever gaiter, give the interior real stand-out appeal. Plus, in case you forget which model Kuga you’re driving, the alloy pedals and scuff plates incorporating the ST-Line logo serve to remind you of your car’s individuality. To round it all off, ST-Line exterior badging on the front fender, helps to share your hidden wild side with the world.

Behind the wheel

Ford Kuga ST

But what about the drive? Where the Kuga ST really shines is in terms of ride quality and comfort. It’s a wonderfully comfortable car to cover long distances in, making road trips with the family a real pleasure.

While the engine hasn’t had any performance upgrades from the base-line Kuga models, chassis enhancements, incorporating optimised suspension and steering, mean the Kuga ST-Line delivers the sportiest driving dynamics yet for this model. Furthermore, the Kuga’s steering system employs a revised calibration to deliver a tighter, more responsive and sporty feel. I’ve always enjoyed the comfortable drive you get with a Kuga and the latest ST iteration seems to really up the ante, giving you the sense you’re not in your mother’s SUV any more. It’s quick off the mark, getting you from 0 to 100 in under 8 seconds, not bad for a seemingly clunky SUV.

Is it the car for you?

Ford Kuga ST

For me, the Kuga ST offers the best of both worlds. I love the go-anywhere convenience an SUV offers but, cruising around in a practical ‘mom-car’ I’m always left with a little bit of longing for the fun that comes with a sporty hatchback. By bringing the sporty look and feel to the SUV game, the Kuga ST-Line means I no longer have to make a choice between the carefree hatchback life and comfortably fitting all my big girl baggage into my car. While you may have to use all your free time to tackle your real grown-up responsibilities, at least you can still have fun doing it in the Ford Kuga ST.

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What does it cost?

A selection of option packs are available with the Kuga range-topping models. The Driver Assistance Pack for the ST-Line adds Adaptive Cruise Control, Advanced Active Park Assist, Blind Spot Information System and Lane Keeping Aid. While the Styling Pack includes the power opening panoramic roof, 19-inch alloy wheels and a larger single-wing rear spoiler that gives the Kuga an even more spirited appearance. High-Intensity Discharge (HID) Bi-Xenon headlamps with LED Daytime Running Lights can also be specified on ST-Line models.

Ford Kuga ST

The Ford Kuga 1.5 EcoBoost Ambiente FWD 6MT starts at R433,500 and caps out at R600,700 for the 2.0 EcoBoost ST-Line AWD 6AT and R617,000 for the 2.0 TDCi ST-Line AWD 6AT. 

All models come standard with Ford Protect, comprising a four-year/120 000km comprehensive warranty, three-year/unlimited distance roadside assistance and five-year/unlimited km corrosion warranty. A six-year/90 000km service plan is included, with 15 000km service intervals.

Want more motoring news? Check out our Cars section for more great reads.

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