Extensive durability testing was conducted specifically to ensure that the new Ford Kuga would satisfy the needs of all terrains and geographical territories. Testing in ambient temperatures of minus 40C in territories including the northern region of Finland ensure that Kuga's go-anywhere ability is not unduly affected by the climate.
Ford Kuga is a fine example of Ford precision engineering, with innovative design, a tactile high quality interior, outstanding styling and premium driving dynamics. In addition to having excellent driver assistance features and making journeys easier and more enjoyable for any passengers, the Ford Kuga has a number of technology features that underline its high quality and premium-like status.
Uniquely manufactured at Ford's Saarlouis plant in Germany the new Kuga will be built alongside the new Focus three-door, five-door and wagon variants and C-MAX. At the end of 2007 the plant celebrated the manufacture of its eleven-millionth vehicle.
Previous success stories during the plant's 37-year history include the Escort Mk 1, Capri and Orion models. The plant is the largest employer in Germany's Saarland region with a skilled workforce of 6,500 employees and a further 2,000 workers in a neighbouring supply park.
The Saarlouis plant practices Ford's new product development process, devised to enable more new vehicles to be developed and manufactured in a shorter time and with negligible development issues.
Kuga is built with lasting quality, expressing craftsmanship and precision.
The attention to detail is evident in all aspects of the car and extends to more than the chrome finish details, the harmony of colours, trims and materials and the precision of the craftsmanship.
Further highlights of the Kuga's high build quality include:
- A unique door mirror design which also improves SQ&V by creating airspace between the mirror and door.
- A premium-style centre stack and centre console fully painted or foiled.
- Premium execution on window and mirror switches.
- Extra-durable door seals to prevent water seepage when wading.
The inclusion of plastic front wings on the new Kuga are a key factor in keeping the car's weight to a minimum. Proven to be up to 50 per cent lighter than steel, they help the Kuga achieve the desired low insurance rating as they are also resistant to minor knocks and avoid expensive sheet metal repairs. Component weight reduction also contributes to reduced emissions through improved fuel economy.
“There are a number of actions and objectives that are applied to all of our vehicles irrespective of the class they are in,” said Herrmann. “We always use high quality materials and excellent levels of craftsmanship and finish to get the best result. Our stringent durability testing proves to us that all aspects of every car are sufficiently tested to give long service lives and years of pleasure.”
Developed for Best SQ&V Performance
Kuga has been built to give an equally positive driving experience in all regards to customers who choose either the FWD or intelligent AWD version.
“Giving our cars very favourable SQ&V levels is a key target we have that give our cars a refined nature and premium-like quality,” explained Tamm. “Most people understand this to mean that we take steps to reduce the noise levels that reach the passenger compartment. While we did this on Kuga we also needed to ensure that the car still gives sufficient feedback based on the terrain it is on. Very few people go off-roading with their music playing loudly; this is because they subconsciously realise the benefit that sound plays to their driving experience and concentration levels. On this terrain they want the aural feedback that snapping branches and rocks settling beneath the tyres gives them and we ensure that this feedback is available to them.”
Significant efforts were made to reduce noise levels and improve the perceived sound quality inside the car to match the overall refinement.
Low sound pressure levels and the source harmony for engine, road and wind contributions support the quality of the interior ambience. The Kuga provides stress-free, relaxed driving through low noise levels which enables easy communication inside the vehicle and optimum use of the internal audio equipment up to high speeds. This was achieved by detailed analytical preparation using state-of-the-art CAE tools, time spent in highly sophisticated SQ&V test facilities and a high number of test kilometres on test tracks and public roads.
Attention to detail was a key enabler for successful SQ&V development of the new Kuga. Combustion noise has been specifically attenuated and is acoustically optimised with torque-based engine calibration and multiple pilot injection. The engine characteristic map has been adjusted to the different gears, using optimised injection capacities, timings and pulse timings for each gear.
Enhanced Powertrain SQ&V
Designing a premium powertrain sound quality was a key area of attention in the development phase of the new Kuga. One important goal was to achieve a high level of sound refinement through the range that included low to medium engine speeds and also while cruising. At the same time a positive sound feedback from the engine during accelerating manoeuvres was accomplished and the necessary level of aural feedback has been achieved during off-road driving.
Features incorporated to meet this objective include:
- Air intake and exhaust tuning: The design of the exhaust and the air intake systems has been refined in powertrain SQ&V test cells to meet the interior noise sound quality targets. Shell surface stiffnesses has been optimised, internal absorption and resonators have been developed and utilised
- Engine mount isolation: All engine mounts underwent a rigorous development program to improve the structure borne noise isolation in all frequency areas under all load conditions
- State-of- the-art high pressure Common Rail Duratorq diesel engine: A refined diesel engine SQ&V development programme was devised to give the Kuga a high level of refinement. This has been achieved by optimising the injector hardware and the continual improvement of the engine calibration, using both powertrain SQ&V rigs and test drives. A multipilot injection strategy is employed to smooth the combustion events in the entire engine speed and load area
- Attention to detail: The level of detail given to maximise the SQ&V characteristics extends to the secondary noise paths, such as cables, hoses and ducts. For example, noise transmission through the gear shifter cables has been eradicated and power assisted steering and air conditioning lines have been tuned to suppress unwanted noises
Road Noise Optimisation
The main focus of road noise development was to achieve low levels on all road surfaces while retaining necessary aural feedback while off-road. This includes a smooth noise and vibration behaviour over smooth or rough roads as well as over impacts. A good balance between high frequency and low frequency road noise contributes to Kuga's excellent driving experience. The development work was conducted over a variety of critical on- and off-road surfaces at Ford's Lommel Proving Ground in Belgium, as well as public roads around Europe.
Reduced Wind Noise
Reduction of wind noise is a result of detailed engineering and development. Details on Kuga include an optimised A-pillar shape, while door mirror design, the flush execution of the door seals and the concealed wiper arms and blades all make their own contribution to reducing wind noise.
Another key target was to minimise the transmission of noise from the car's surface area into the passenger compartment. In order to achieve this, particular attention was given to door design. Improvements included making the door glass 3.85mm thick and introducing an additional seal between the door and body.
“The combination of a number of small actions means that Kuga has comparable wind noise behaviour with our large and luxury cars,” explained Tamm. “This was no mean feat considering the higher bodystyle and therefore the perceived reduction in aerodynamic properties of the Kuga.”
Ford of Europe's Environmental Commitment
Sustainability plays a key role in Ford Motor Company's global business. The development and integration of a sustainability management system encompasses the pursuit of improved air quality and fuel efficiency. Together with built in recoverability at the time they have completed their useable life, these actions are applied to all Ford of Europe products.
Ford Motor Company is committed to socially and environmentally responsible manufacturing. Each manufacturing plant has a workforce dedicated to the task of analysing the use of energy and resources to identify and adopt changes to working practice and policy to make improvements.
All vehicles developed and manufactured by Ford of Europe comply with legal requirements, including those covered by the European End of Life Vehicle Directive. Covering recycling opportunities, the Directive also includes initiatives that impose boundaries on the materials used in vehicle production. For example, heavy metal restrictions are imposed on the use of lead, mercury, hexavalent chromium and cadmium. However, Ford of Europe is going beyond this; Ford cars were the first to receive the German T�V organisation's allergy-tested interior certificate and achieved the British Allergy Foundation's Seal of Approval.
A number of materials introduced by Ford of Europe to the new Kuga are further evidence of the company's commitment to embracing new materials and ensuring that, in theory, the materials can be used ad infinitum.
A recycling process for the Kuga's unique front wings which are moulded from resin has already been proven. Kuga energy absorbers moulded with Xenoy iQ PC/PBT resin can utilise post-consumer PET bottle scrap as a feed-stock. This uses less energy and emits less CO2 than conventional plastic manufacturing or recycling processes.
Use of modern materials such as those used in the Kuga front wings contributes to reduced overall vehicle weight reduction. This translates directly to improved fuel economy and reduced CO2 emissions.
New components unique to the Kuga are made of recycled materials � the pedestrian safety energy absorber behind the front bumper skin, for example, is made out of recycled PET bottles.
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