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Ford Focus 4X4 is ready

Ford Focus 4x4 is more road focussed

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Kuga develops Ford’s twin-grille theme, with gaping lower air intake outlined in chrome. Chunky wheelarches will likely be toned down for the production model.

Ford looks sure to rouse interest from buyers who may not have otherwise considered an SUV

The wait is over – Ford’s Focus 4x4 is here at last! Nearly a year after the blue oval revealed the exciting Iosis X concept at the Paris Motor Show, the company has released this first official sketch of its new off-roader.

The image will whet the appetites of potential buyers. As you can see, it’s virtually identical to our scoop shot, which we showed you in our world exclusive in May (Issue 963).

And Ford hasn’t only taken the wraps off the newcomer – two months ahead of its global unveiling at the Frankfurt exhibition. Bosses have also announced the car’s name. It’s going to be called the Kuga.

We revealed in Issue 961 that the company had registered the badge – and, of course, it has used it before, albeit spelled Cougar, on the short-lived coupé, axed in 2002. The name should suit this off-roader’s image.

At the front, the designers have taken Ford’s twin-grille theme to the extreme. As you can see, the Kuga’s purposeful face is dominated by a huge lower air intake, which is outlined in chrome. Above lies a smaller grille, with rakish headlights featuring bright circular central bulbs. The lens design is very sporty, with the plastic covering trailing along the wing.

Raised bonnet lines running to the A-pillars add to the aggressive stance, and that’s continued by the extended wheelarches, which are filled by stylish alloys wearing enormous tyres.

At the rear, the roofline slopes down to meet the distinctive C-pillar. With minimal overhangs all-round, plus an athletic-looking wide track, the Kuga has a similar sporty appearance to the original Iosis X concept car.

While other compact 4x4s such as the VW Tiguan and Land Rover Free­lander have played it safe on the styling front – only the Nissan Qashqai really offers something different – the Ford looks sure to rouse interest from buyers who may not have otherwise considered an SUV. “We recognise that customers want an individual car which blends on-road capability with substantial off-road ability,” said Martin Smith, executive design director for Ford of Europe.

“The Kuga will stand out from the crowd by offering the visual excitement and on-road driving quality that buyers of the likes of the Focus, S-MAX and the new Mondeo have come to expect from us,” Smith added. The interior will most likely take styling cues from the recently revised C-MAX and the Mondeo, and will undoubtedly have a similar quality feel. Ford’s clever Human Machine Interface cabin control system is likely to be offered as well.

Under the skin, the newcomer will be based on the Focus, and use a variable four-wheel-drive system taken from Volvo’s V50 estate. However, it is not expected to be quite as capable off-road as a Free­lander, so it won’t get the British 4x4’s sophisticated Terrain Response system – which can switch between various traction modes – nor its Hill Descent Control. Nevertheless, with a raised ride height, the Ford is still expected to be able cut it in the rough.

Where the Kuga will really shine, though, is on the road. The flagship will feature the 222bhp 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbo engine from the Focus ST. Other choices will include 1.6 and 2.0-litre petrol units, as well as 1.8 and 2.0-litre TDCi diesels. Six-speed manual and Durashift auto transmissions will be available.

The finished model will go on sale in the UK in spring next year, priced from around £16,000. But the Kuga is not the only new Ford to debut at Frankfurt in September. Also on the stands will be the revised Focus, which features a sleek new look with every body panel updated.