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New Kuga uses tech to overcome safety fears

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The new Kuga has arrived in South Africa, offering one of the most technologically-advanced, smart sport utility vehicles (SUVs) to restore the battered safety image of the vehicle.

Ford issued three recalls of Kuga vehicles in South Africa over the past year due to faulty coolant systems resulting in a number catching fire, followed by seatbelt concerns.

“We are thrilled with the new Kuga offering,” says Tracey Delate, General Marketing Manager, Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa. “With stunning new design inside and out, smart technologies, fuel-efficient yet powerful engines, and five-star safety, it’s a vehicle that will stand out for our customers.”

The new Kuga joins the best-selling EcoSport compact SUV and the sophisticated Everest seven-seater SUV to offer a wide range of models across all key segments.

Buyers have the choice of two petrol engines in the 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre EcoBoost petrol units, as well as the 2.0-litre TDCi turbodiesel engine. Depending on model, there is the option of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive models, and manual or automatic transmissions to suit customer needs.

As before, three specification levels are available, starting off with the value-oriented Ambiente, the mid-level Trend and the range-topping Titanium.

Ford provided the following information:

The new Kuga features Ford’s latest design language for a bold, smart look that is shared with other Ford SUVs. Its large upper trapezoidal grille and a smaller lower grille are flanked by sleek new headlamps complemented by functional, stylish fog lamps.

At the rear, the Kuga’s smart, athletic stance is emphasized by the redesigned light clusters and new tailgate design, along with the purposeful twin exhausts. A new range of standard and optional alloy wheel designs are available, spanning 17 to 19-inch sizes, which complement the upmarket styling of the new Kuga.

“We know from customer feedback and research that vehicle design and style are key factors in the car buying decision process,” Delate says. “In many cases, it’s actually the top consideration which is why we’re particularly excited about the new Kuga. In addition to being a very capable, functional SUV with a fantastic suite of smart technologies, it’s also a vehicle that will turn heads wherever it’s driven.”

Smart and intuitive interior

Steeped in SUV expertise from around the Ford world, the new Kuga designers’ objective was to combine stylish form with everyday function for the interior of the SUV.

“Our designers went to great lengths to ensure the vehicle and its many different features, large and small, are smart yet provide welcome benefits to even daily routines,” Delate adds. “The Hands-Free Power Tailgate, for example, is something customers have really grown to appreciate. No matter what you might find filling your arms, from sports gear to shopping bags or a toddler or two, the Power Tailgate can make your life easier.”

Kuga drivers will find an array of useful convenience features making the vehicle very user-friendly, including ISOFIX anchorage-points, an electronic parking brake, improved storage in the centre console, as well as rear tray tables and rear air vents on the Trend and Titanium models.

The new Kuga offers up to 1603 litres of cargo space with the rear stadium seating folded – ideal for weekend escapes. In addition, the Kuga steering wheel and air-conditioning controls operate through fewer and more easily distinguishable buttons and switches, making the controls easier to recognise and navigate.

All Kuga automatic models include paddle-shift controls that enable drivers to manually select gears, adding to Ford’s fun-to-drive ethos.

Introduction of SYNC 3 with optional Navigation

The new Kuga will allow drivers to control audio functions plus connected smartphones using simple, more conversational voice commands, with Ford’s new SYNC®3 connectivity system, which is standard on the Trend and Titanium derivatives.

SYNC®3 with Navigation is optional across the Kuga range, featuring embedded navigation which provides a full 3D experience with elevated map view, enhanced full colour graphics and point of interest (POI) building images. When driving, the navigation map displays a raft of information, including the next manoeuvre; current speed limit; current GPS speed; and a choice of estimated time of arrival, time to reach destination, or distance to destination; plus highway services information such as rest stops and garages.

Ford has drawn on more than 22,000 comments and insights gained from research clinics and surveys to ensure the new version is the most customer-centric system to date.

Kuga drivers can operate the SYNC 3 8-inch touchscreen in the same way that they use their smartphones. A new interface features larger, easier to operate buttons and enables pinch and swipe gestures for the first time.

SYNC 3 incorporates Apple CarPlay, the smarter, safer way to use iPhones in the car allowing drivers to make phone calls, access music, send and receive messages, get directions optimised for traffic conditions, and more while they stay focused on the road*.

AndroidT users can activate Android AutoT, which makes apps and services that are already widely used accessible in safer and seamless ways in the Kuga, including Google Search, Google Maps and Google Play*.

Enhanced visibility and safety

The latest Ford technologies and sophisticated body engineering help drivers see more clearly and enhance safety on the road for new Kuga occupants and other road users.

The new Kuga’s sculpted bonnet features a wider, uninterrupted central dome that not only serves to complement its sporty, smart new look, but also incorporates a structural design that improves pedestrian protection in the event of an accident. The bonnet and rear liftgate also have been re-engineered to help mitigate damage to more expensive-to-replace components.

Sophisticated technology for safer driving

Segment-defining driver and passenger safety remains a highlight of the new Kuga, with standard safety features across the range incorporating a total of seven airbags – including a driver’s knee airbag – as well as ABS brakes with Electronic Stability Programme (ESP), Trailer Stability function, Hill Launch Assist and Rollover Mitigation.

An enhanced version of Ford’s Active City Stop with low-speed collision mitigation and avoidance has been introduced, which can be specified as with the Driver Assistance Pack available as an option on the Trend and Titanium models. This pack also includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind Spot Information System (BLIS), Lane Departure Warning and Lane Keeping Aid, as well as Advanced Active Park Assist.

The new Kuga now offers Perpendicular Parking functionality, in addition to the semi-autonomous Active Park Assist technology. Using additional ultrasonic sensors, Perpendicular Parking at the push of a button enables drivers to locate parking spaces alongside other cars as well as parallel to the road, and steers the vehicle into them while the driver controls the accelerator and brake.

Efficient EcoBoost performance

The new Kuga relies on Ford’s powerful yet extremely efficient 1.5-litre EcoBoost engine. Two output levels are offered, comprising a unit with 110kW and 240Nm of torque in the front-wheel drive six-speed manual derivative.

A 132kW version of the 1.5 EcoBoost engine is provided on the models equipped with the six-speed automatic transmission – available in front-wheel drive guise and with Ford’s Intelligent All Wheel Drive.

The petrol engine line-up is topped by the powerful 2.0 EcoBoost, which produces 177kW and 340Nm, and is available exclusively with all-wheel drive and the six-speed torque-converter automatic.

For diesel fans, the impressive 2.0 TDCi turbodiesel engine remains, producing 132kW and a substantial 400Nm torque peak. Power is delivered to all four wheels through the responsive PowerShift dual-clutch automatic transmission.

Recommended Retail Prices:

Ford Kuga 1.5 EcoBoost Ambiente 6MT FWD            R368 800

Ford Kuga 1.5 EcoBoost Ambiente 6AT FWD             R381 900

Ford Kuga 1.5 EcoBoost Trend 6MT FWD                             R406 400

Ford Kuga 1.5 EcoBoost Trend 6AT FWD                              R427 900

Ford Kuga 2.0 TDCi Trend 6AT AWD                          R483 900

Ford Kuga 2.0 EcoBoost Titanium 6AT AWD              R497 900

Ford Kuga 2.0 TDCi Titanium 6AT AWD                              R506 900

All models come standard with Ford Protect, including a four-year/120 000km comprehensive warranty, three-year/unlimited distance roadside assistance and five-year/unlimited km corrosion warranty. A five-year/90 000km service plan is included on the TDCi models, with 15 000km service intervals. The petrol Kuga models have 20 000km service intervals, and are sold with a four-year/80 000km service plan.

Cars

Why sports cars make us feel good

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Forget romance, fine dining or an epic boxset binge – new preliminary research reveals that driving a sports car on a daily basis is among the best ways to boost your sense of wellbeing and emotional fulfilment.

The study measured “buzz moments” – peak thrills that play a vital role in our overall wellness – as volunteers cheered on their favourite football team, watched a gripping Game of Thrones episode, enjoyed a passionate kiss with a loved one or took an intense salsa dancing class. Only the occasional highs of riding a roller coaster ranked higher than the daily buzz of a commute in a sports car.

Working with neuroscientists and designers, Ford brought the research to life with the unique Ford Performance Buzz Car: a customised Ford Focus RS incorporating wearable and artificial intelligence technology to animate the driver’s emotions in real time across the car’s exterior. 

Watch the video here https://youtu.be/AFpt6jziFsU

“A roller coaster may be good for a quick thrill, but it’s not great for getting you to work every day,” said Dr Harry Witchel, Discipline Leader in Physiology. “This study shows how driving a performance car does much more than get you from A to B – it could be a valuable part of your daily wellbeing routine.”

Study participants who sat behind the wheel of a Ford Focus RS, Focus ST or Mustang experienced an average of 2.1 high-intensity buzz moments during a typical commute; this compared with an average of 3 buzz moments while riding on a roller coaster, 1.7 while on a shopping trip, 1.5 each while watching a Game of Thrones episode or a football match, and none at all while salsa dancing, fine dining or sharing a passionate kiss. 

For the research, Ford took one Focus RS and worked with Designworks to create the Buzz Car:

From concept, design and installation to software development and programming, the Buzz Car took 1,400 man-hours to create. Each “buzz moment” experienced by the driver – analysed using a real-time “emotional AI” system developed by leading empathic technology firm Sensum – produces a dazzling animation across almost 200,000 LED lights integrated into the car. The Buzz Car also features:

  • High-performance Zotac VR GO gaming PC
  • 110 x 500-lumen daylight-bright light strips
  • 82 display panels with 188,416 individually addressable LEDs

Driver state research

Researchers at the Ford Research and Innovation Center in Aachen, Germany are already looking into how vehicles can better understand and respond to drivers’ emotions. As part of the EUfunded ADAS&ME project, Ford experts are investigating how in-car systems may one day be aware of our emotions – as well as levels of stress, distraction and fatigue – providing prompts and warnings, and could even take control of the car in emergency situations.

“We think driving should be an enjoyable, emotional experience,” said Dr Marcel Mathissen, research scientist at Ford of Europe. “The driver-state research Ford and its partners are undertaking is helping to lead us towards safer roads and – importantly – healthier driving.”

Activity Buzz Moments *
Roller Coaster 3
Driving 2.1
Shopping 1.7
Game of Thrones 1.5
Football Game 1.5
Kissing 0
Salsa Dancing 0
Dining 0

* Average number of high-intensity buzz moments per participant

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Car that sees round corners

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Jaguar Land Rover is leading a £4.7 million (approximately R79 million) project to develop self-driving cars that can ‘see’ at blind junctions and through obstacles.

Britain’s biggest carmaker is leading a project called AutopleX to combine connected, automated and live mapping tech so more information is provided earlier to the self-driving car. This enables automated cars to communicate with all road users and obstacles where there is no direct view, effectively helping them see, so they can safely merge lanes and negotiate complex roundabouts autonomously.

Chris Holmes, Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Research Manager at Jaguar Land Rover said: “This project is crucial in order to bring self-driving cars to our customers in the near future. Together with our AutopleX partners, we will merge our connected and autonomous research to empower our self-driving vehicles to operate safely in the most challenging, real-world traffic situations. This project will ensure we deliver the most sophisticated and capable automated driving technology.”

Jaguar Land Rover is developing fully- and semi-automated vehicle technologies, offering customers a choice of an engaged or automated drive, while maintaining an enjoyable and safe driving experience. The company’s vision is to make the self-driving car viable in the widest range of real-life, on- and off-road driving environments and weather.

AutopleX will develop the technology through simulation and public road testing both on motorways and in urban environments in the West Midlands. Highways England, INRIX, Ricardo, Siemens, Transport for West Midlands and WMG at the University of Warwick join the AutopleX consortium, which was announced as part of Innovate UK’s third round of Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Funding in March 2018.

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