The rants and raves of Top Gear's most famous son...
Ford Kuga: month seven
On fleet since: July 2011
Official combined mpg: 41.5 mpg
Our average economy: 33.0 mpg
Performance: 0-62mph 9.6secs/119mph
Power/Torque: 163hp@3750rpm/251lb ft@2000rpm
Insurance group: 21/50
Price as tested: £32,045
Pros: Good looking, easy to drive, well thought-out interior
Cons: Firm seats and suspension, economy sometimes indifferent
Where have we been?
A second trip to Belgium, planning routes for a Guild of Motoring Writers event in June. It was a punishing couple of days.
What do we like?
This car event has been the cards for twelve months, so we should have got our act together a little sooner. I needed to plan out a driving route over interesting roads for three or four days; the final day would be a motorway blast home, no two ways about it.
My co-driver and note taker was fellow journalist John Simister, so the company would be excellent, at least. And he came up with a novel idea. Why not take the Aston Martin V8 Vantage he'd have sitting in his driveway at the required time?
Now, I won't deny it wasn't a strongly tempting proposition, the stuff of boyhood dreams. But there was the issue of fuel costs and also, simply put, the Kuga would be a million times more appropriate.
And so we took the Ford and even die-hard John had to admit that we would have found the bits of unintended off-roading action challenging in the Aston. The four-wheel-drive Kuga, on the other hand simply soaked up everything we could throw at it.
The roomy interior meant that there was space for maps to be opened up, pockets for drinks and sweets and plenty of floor space for accumulated rubbish. The satnav worked seamlessly and the six-speed Powershift transmission was unobtrusive.
The Kuga was close to perfect in these circumstances, as I thought it might be, and John even admitted as much at the end. We dashed the 200 miles back to Calais on Saturday evening to just miss a ferry, but the economy never dropped below 33mpg, not bad for such unrelenting high speed.
I let John do most of the final driving as we listened to endless episodes of Ed Reardon on the iPod. We are of that age, you see.
What don't we like?
This isn't really a criticism at all. The Ford has a tyre pressure warning system and on the afternoon of the first day in Belgium it flashed up an alert. I was driving and, cynical as I am, I simply knew it was down to an electrical malfunction.
Except the next day, as we walked from our hotel down the road to the Kuga, it was pretty obvious the front tyre was, well, a bit soft. And it was drizzling. So we gingerly headed off in the direction of the next town.
And would you believe it, we stumbled upon a village fuel station that had a small tyre depot attached. Jean Claude gave it a quick once over and had it fixed in minutes. Mind you his methods were distinctly old school.
First he found the culprit screw, yanked it out with pliers, reamed the hole with a bradawl and then forced a piece of "liquorice" into the hole. It seems to have worked, as the tyre is still up three weeks later, with the advantage that the wheel didn't need removing.
I am not sure the Association of Tyre Fitters, Trolley Jackers and Puncture Pluggers would approve, though.
What next for the Kuga?
I am going to dip out of the Kuga for the next few weeks and hand it over to my son and his young family. Ian needs more space and we both want to see if the Ford fits his lifestyle better than his current hatch.
Report 1: Ford Kuga arrival
Report 2: Ford Kuga month two
Report 3: Ford Kuga month three
Report 4: Ford Kuga month four
Report 5: Ford Kuga month five
Report 6: Ford Kuga month six
Report 7: Ford Kuga month seven (this report)
Report 8: Ford Kuga final report
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