It took Ford a while to get the Kuga right. The first generation was fun to drive but cramped inside. The second generation was much more spacious but hardly inspired the keen driver.
This updated version (an all-new third generation is due at the end of this year) sits on the new Ford Focus platform, making it sharper to drive, and now comes in a sporty trim level.
The Kuga ST-Line comes with a full body styling kid, including 18in alloy wheels, unique headlights, roof rails finished in black and sports suspension.
Ford offers a choice of EcoBoost petrol and TDCi diesel engines. Most Kugas are sold with front-wheel drive, but four-wheel drive is an option across the range, and makes sense if you live in rural parts of Scotland.
My test car was fitted with a 2.0 litre, 180hp turbodiesel engine with four-wheel drive paired to a six-speed automatic gearbox – yours for £36,260.
Though you can add to the price with a lengthy options list, it already comes with a high standard specification. Highlights on my car included a panoramic glass roof, keyless entry and start, power tailgate, part-leather trim, two-zone climate control and Ford’s excellent Quickclear windscreen – not necessary at this time of year but a very handy feature in the winter.
Giving the Kuga a good leg stretch on some roads through Angus and the edge of Aberdeenshire, I was impressed by the car’s refinement. Even with sports suspension ride quality is comfortable, while wind and tyre noise are kept well in check.
Show it some corners and the Kuga handles well, though it’s not as sharp as Seat’s Ateca – probably the most car-like of its rivals. It’s certainly more dynamic than the Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson or Nissan Qashqai, however.
Inside, there’s room for five adults, and the panoramic roof adds plenty of light, particularly in the back.
Downsides? While it has all the tech you could ask for, the cabin layout now feels a bit dated. Emissions of 160gm/km and fuel economy of around 37mpg are both figures that can be bettered by its rivals.
I would expect both of these concerns to be ironed out when the all-new version arrives at the end of the year.
Despite getting a bit long in the tooth, the current generation Kuga can still, for the most part, hold its own against its rivals. The smart looking ST-Line version should keep sales ticking over until the new model comes along.