New Ford Kuga SUV steers ahead of the pack in test

Ford Kuga - a first in driver assistance tests.

Ford Kuga - a first in driver assistance tests.

Ford’s Co-Pilot 360 driver assistance technologies, which were designed to deliver an intuitive and stress-reducing driving experience, has earned the new Kuga SUV a leading position in Euro NCAP’s first assisted driving grading.

The Kuga finished ahead of vehicles including the Tesla Model 3, Volvo V60 and Volkswagen Passat in the overall ranking, following independent testing of technologies that automatically help the SUV maintain a comfortable driving distance from vehicles ahead, stay centred in its lane, and adjust the speed to within legal limits.

Euro NCAP’s new assisted driving programme evaluates features that share control of the vehicle with a driver who retains full responsibility, helping to detect and respond to objects and events for effortless, confidence-inspiring journeys.

The Kuga scored more than twice as many points as the Tesla Model 3 in the driver engagement category, and significantly outscored both the Volvo V60 and Volkswagen Passat for safety backup during two weeks of tests, which also assessed the effectiveness of vehicle assistance from the technologies.

Intuitive assistance

Stuart Southgate, director of Ford of Europe's safety engineering, says the company designed technologies to take some of the strain from drivers and help them focus more clearly on the road.

“We worked hard to make Kuga’s assisted driving experience as intuitive, natural and engaging as possible so that drivers would enjoy taking full advantage of the technologies available.”

Kuga’s available adaptive cruise control (ACC ) with stop & go, speed sign recognition and lane centring uses a combination of radar and camera to monitor the road and traffic ahead, and can automatically keep pace with traffic and road flow as well as speed restrictions in many driving scenarios.

Stop & go is available with Kuga’s eight-speed automatic transmission, and enables the ACC system to bring the vehicle to a complete halt in stop-start traffic using up to 50 per cent of total braking force, and automatically pull away if the stopping duration is less than three seconds. For stopping durations greater than three seconds, the driver can push a steering wheel button or gently apply the accelerator to pull away.

Speed sign recognition can adjust the vehicle speed to within legal limits by monitoring the roadside and overhead gantries for speed signs, in addition to using information from the on-board navigation system. Lane centring technology monitors road markings and can apply gentle but discernible torque to the steering system to help drivers stay centred in their lane whenever the ACC system is activated. Designed to support drivers at speeds up to 200km/h (125mph ), the technology will deliver visual and audible warnings if it detects a lack of steering wheel input from the driver.

“The Ford Kuga demonstrates across a wide variety of cars tested that a good grading is achievable on a high-volume family SUV,” says Richard Schram, technical director of Euro NCAP.

“Ford impressed in our first assisted driving technology grading, showing high performance in all areas and a good balance between driver engagement and vehicle assistance with a robust safety backup.”

Ford says the Kuga also features advanced technologies designed to help prevent or mitigate the effects of accidents, including blind spot assist and intersection assist – both making their global debuts – and pre-collision assist with active braking. Sophisticated technologies last year contributed to the Kuga’s maximum five-star Euro NCAP safety rating.


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