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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.

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Body-tracking tech moves to assembly line

Technology typically used by the world’s top sport stars to raise their game, or ensure their signature skills are accurately replicated in leading video games, is now being used on an auto assembly line.

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Employees at Ford’s Valencia Engine Assembly Plant, in Spain, are using a special suit equipped with advanced body tracking technology. The pilot system, created by Ford and the Instituto Biomecánica de Valencia, has involved 70 employees in 21 work areas. 

Player motion technology usually records how athletes sprint or turn, enabling sport coaches or game developers to unlock the potential of sport stars in the real world or on screen. Ford is using it to design less physically stressful workstations for enhanced manufacturing quality.

“It’s been proven on the sports field that with motion tracking technology, tiny adjustments to the way you move can have a huge benefit,” said Javier Gisbert, production area manager, Ford Valencia Engine Assembly Plant. “For our employees, changes made to work areas using similar technology can ultimately ensure that, even on a long day, they are able to work comfortably.”

Engineers took inspiration from a suit they saw at a trade fair that demonstrated how robots could replicate human movement and then applied it to their workplace, where production of the  new Ford Transit Connect and 2.0-litre EcoBoost Duratec engines began this month.

The skin-tight suit consists of 15 tiny movement tracking light sensors connected to a wireless detection unit. The system tracks how the person moves at work, highlighting head, neck, shoulder and limb movements. Movement is recorded by four specialised motion-tracking cameras – similar to those usually paired with computer game consoles – placed near the worker and captured as a 3D skeletal character animation of the user.

Specially trained ergonomists then use the data to help employees align their posture correctly. Measurements captured by the system, such as an employee’s height or arm length, are used to design workstations, so they better fit employees. 

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Electric cars begin to bridge the luxury gap

A new era has dawned as electric mobility bridges the gap between luxury and necessity, writes TREVOR HILL – head of Audi South Africa.

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Mobility is essential to today’s world. We travel to get to work, to go shopping, and to meet friends and family – in short, effective transport impacts on all aspects of our modern lives. Access to mobility is critical to economic growth and progress, bringing more opportunities and better productivity. At the same time however, growing environmental concerns and a looming shortage of fossil fuels have created tension between our ever-growing demand for mobility and the health of our planet.

Growing populations, increasing urbanization and economic and social development mean that there are more cars on our roads each day. The knock-on effects of this are greater levels of congestion and longer times spent commuting, which means more stress and higher levels of aggression on the road. Skyrocketing levels of air pollution – to which transportation is one of the leading contributors – has negative effects on both health and climate change, both of which are key issues in global policy agendas.

So, the writing has been on the wall for some time. The gold standard in automotive technological progress has thus been to achieve a radical reduction of engine emissions and the development of electric cars has been at the forefront of this charge. We have now entered the beginning of a new era, as more and more of these vehicles take to the roads. Electric cars are now at the cusp of the mass market, with a steady stream of new models set to reach the consumer in future. Last week, we launched the Audi e-tron, our first all-electric-drive SUV, at a world premiere in San Francisco – one huge leap forward in pursuit of our goal. Audi will also bring more than 20 electrified models to the market by 2025, from the compact class to the full-size category. Around a dozen models will be all-electric, while the remainder will be plug-in hybrids for emission-free driving on shorter journeys.

Powering this development is ongoing improvement in battery technology, with increasing energy density and lengthened driving ranges possible between charges. Consumers have noted that they feel confident using electric cars for day-to-day use once battery technology can sustain a driving range of 300 or more kilometres, which is now possible. The Audi e-tron has a range of 400 kilometers, making it ideal for long distance driving. Drivers who charge the e-tron overnight can set off in the morning in full confidence that they won’t need to stop at a charging station as they go about their day.

What this technological progress also means however, is that the levels of power and performance achieved by an electric car draw ever closer to those of traditional engines. For anyone who loves high strung, powerful engines and the rush of adrenaline that comes from flooring the throttle on an empty stretch of road, this is no small thing.  At Audi, we are lucky to be surrounded by some of the most exceptional engines ever produced, so few people understand the thrill of an extraordinary driving experience better than we do. So, the holy grail is to achieve this same performance with vastly improved economy.

The Audi e-tron’s electric drive has two asynchronous motors, one at the front, one at the rear, with a total output of 300 kW of power. This allows the Audi e-tron to accelerate from 0 to 100km/h in just 5.7 seconds.

The next step will be the development of electric cars suitable for those who regularly drive long distances, entailing further advances in battery technology, and the development of a network of charging stations across the country. The battery for the Audi e-tron is designed to last the entire life cycle of the vehicle. When charged at a high-power charging station at up to 150 kW, the Audi e-tron can be restored to 80% in less than half an hour. At 22 kW, the Audi e-tron can charge its battery to 100% in around four and a half hours.

For city dwellers, however, the age of electric mobility has well and truly arrived. Rapid advances in technology continue to drive progress; the rise of electric cars is only one of many developments set to transform transportation as we know it, heralding a cleaner, more efficient future.

 

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