Special Coverage

Frankfurt Auto Show

Ford Motor Co. will deliver on its year-old promise of a new cross/utility vehicle for Europe when it rolls out the Kuga during first-half 2008.

The new Focus-based CUV, which makes its public debut “in near production form” alongside the Verve concept at next week’s Frankfurt auto show, will feature within its powertrain lineup a 134-hp 2.0L Duratorq TDCi common-rail diesel mated to a 6-speed manual transmission.

Available in front-wheel drive or with what Ford calls an intelligent 4-wheel-drive system, the auto maker promises that despite its off-road ability the CUV will put the accent on “driving quality.”

“A major element of our strategy to return the Ford of Europe business to sustained profitability is the introduction of exciting new products – like (the) Kuga – that attract new customers to the brand,” Stephen Odell, Ford of Europe vice president-marketing, sales and service, says in a statement. “The S-MAX proved to us that there is demand for vehicles which offer the customer universal usability for work, leisure and family roles and where ‘driving pleasure’ is also very important.”

The Kuga, inspired by the Iosis X concept vehicle revealed last year at the Paris auto show, continues Ford of Europe’s muscular “kinetic design” styling theme. It carries over the Iosis’ “Ice White” paint scheme, bold wheel arches and 19-in. alloy wheels, an option on the Kuga.

However, the Iosis’s roof line has been raised for the Kuga to better accommodate five passengers. An optional panoramic roof is meant to further enhance the sense of spaciousness inside the vehicle, where drivers will find a Blaupunkt navigation system that also shows images from a rear-view, tailgate-mounted camera on its 7-in. (18-cm) color screen.

A horizontally split tailgate and divided rear lights “ensure the maximum full load width is available” for cargo, Ford says.

The first CUV designed and developed in-house by Ford of Europe, the Kuga will be built at the Saarlouis, Germany, assembly plant.