Ford's 'kinetic design' form language has become an established and recognised part of the company's brand DNA in Europe, and is being woven into all of the company's new models, whether all-new or redesigns.
Martin Smith, Ford of Europe's Executive Director for Design, headed the design team during the Kuga's creation with Stefan Lamm handling the exterior, Niko Vidakovic the interior and Ruth Pauli selecting the colours and materials.
A key target for the team was to carry the essence of the 2006 iosis X Concept through to the production Kuga.
“It was important that we made the Kuga instantly recognisable as a new generation Ford model, but we also wanted to retain a design relationship with the iosis X Concept that signaled our intent to get into this market,” said Smith. “I believe we have achieved these targets in the final design for Kuga � we've captured the character of the concept with the car's appearance being both rugged and dynamic to show off its on- and off-road capabilities.”
“The taut, muscular lines and full surfaces are a crucial part of our 'kinetic design' signature elements, yet as we have demonstrated with vehicles like new Focus, Mondeo, S-MAX, and the new Fiesta, each new Ford model has its own individuality,” Smith commented. “Kuga will be distinctive within the Ford range as well as in its market segment. I believe it is a truly appealing and compelling car from every angle.”
The five-door structure and core design remain the same regardless of whether intelligent AWD or FWD is chosen. Styling details alter depending on whether the Trend or Titanium series level is selected, and Kuga customers will be able to personalise their car further through carefully selected items that are optionally available as tailored Packs, and a wide range of purpose-designed accessories from Ford's Customer Service Division.
Kuga adopts the new face of Ford, with bold upper and lower trapezoid grilles and dramatic, swept-back headlamps. Below the lower trapezoid is a purposeful skid plate which further signals the car's tough, off-road capability. Circular fog lamps situated either side of the lower grille are standard equipment on both series.
The sculpted, muscular bonnet features distinctive power blisters which also strengthen the structural rigidity of the pressing.
“Our 'kinetic design' strategy gives us scope to incorporate the key brand characteristic elements to each of our cars yet gives us the flexibility to tailor them for each model,” said Smith.
Large, swept back headlights are available with two technologies; Ford's Adaptive Front lighting System (AFS) or Bi-Xenon which is standard on the high series Titanium model. Bi-Xenon technology is identified by the bluish hue of the reflectors.
“The 'kinetic design' elements in Kuga combine to reinforce our 'energy in motion' philosophy,” explained Smith. “The powerful form language and bold graphics merge to give the car the impression of movement, even when it is parked.”
When viewed in profile, Kuga is as athletic as a modern running shoe. Bold graphics are evident from front to rear, with a rising belt-line and kick-up at the rear window.
Bold wheelarches are filled with standard 17-inch wheels – for the majority of markets, with the remainder gaining 16-inch wheels – and optional 18- and 19-inch wheels of varying styles and tyres that are available in a selection of profiles.
The contemporary new range of wheel designs developed for Kuga all enhance the rugged, sporty looks of the car. Four new alloy wheel designs are introduced and all are completely new and unique to Kuga. For the first time on a production Ford, these include some dramatic 19-inch alloy wheels directly influenced by the iosis X Concept car, and which are available to Kuga customers as an option later in 2008.
The bold wheelarches are linked by integrated rocker mouldings which extend along both side doors and run parallel with the high, pronounced shoulder line. The side 'undercut' further highlights the dynamic intent. Collectively, these elements make the vehicle look muscular and strong.
The unique door mirrors have integrated side indicators and the design has been optimised to deliver exceptionally good levels of Sound Quality and Vibration (SQ&V) as free airspace is created between the mirror housing and the door.
Brushed aluminium effect roof rails neatly top off the profile view and add symmetry to the chrome used on the waistline. A small roof-mounted spoiler and optional panoramic glass roof section add further premium touches and contribute to Kuga's design modernity and longevity.
With a wheelbase of 2690mm the overall footprint of the Kuga is compact and its proportions are balanced by relatively short body overhangs to front and rear.
The rear design is equally purposeful and gives the Kuga a solid stance, and incorporates kinetic design signatures.
A rear diffuser-like skid plate extends visibly from beneath the rear bumper and houses the sporty-looking twin exhaust pipes which are standard on all series. The lower skid plate also houses the low-slung fog lamps. The large, split rear lamps are a dominant horizontal feature of the rear end.
Other neat details include a third LED brake light integrated into the bodycoloured rear spoiler and rear parking sensors blended into the painted bumper. Blue tinted glass is standard on the Titanium model, adding to the premium quality feel of this series. Surfaces are kept clean and clear with the pair of large Ford ovals being supplemented only on the metalwork of the tailgate with a distinctive 'KUGA' logo badge.
A carefully selected palette of ten exterior body colours has been chosen to complement the charismatic nature of the Kuga. A specially developed and brand new metallic hero colour – Chill – is available for both Kuga series options and drive choices.
As a reflection of its iosis X Concept roots, the production Kuga is also available in a new metallic Electric White as well as the traditional solid Frozen White. Electric White was the colour chosen for both the iosis X Concept car and the pre-production Kuga showcar revealed at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show. The Kuga is the first Ford of Europe production model to use Electric White which uses a specialised application method.
The exterior design features naturally incorporate a wealth of practicality that provides much more than first meets the eye. The 'liftgate in liftgate' tailgate offers maximum flexibility and convenience with separate access via micro switches to either the upper tailgate section only or both sections simultaneously.
The size of the open upper section has been engineered to allow convenient access to the luggage compartment. When the upper section is opened access can be gained to the luggage area without having to move the standard tonneau cover, enabling smaller items to be placed in the luggage compartment quickly and easily.
The quick-release tonneau cover can also be completely removed and stored beneath the load floor with ease.
The high ride height, large surface bumpers and tailgate design help avoid damage to the sheet metal during a low speed rear impact.
Ease of repair and favourable insurance ratings are also helped at the front by the use of plastic front wings. Not only does the use of plastic wings aid in overall vehicle weight saving, they also provide greater resistance to dents. The avoidance of expensive sheet metal repairs assists the Kuga in achieving the desired low insurance ratings.
A lower finishing panel in matt anthracite hugs the lower edges of the entire car, offering resistance to long-term dirt accumulation and providing a degree of protection against flying debris. It also visually enhances the off-road styling.
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