As I pen this report, the kids are set to return to school and the first phase of leaving lockdown has begun. While our long-term Kuga would usually be pounding the streets, earning its keep, it has largely been kept a prisoner on the driveway. I’m sure it’ll relish taking the kids to school early in the morning and bringing them home later in the afternoon. It’ll certainly see the mileometer rising faster than it has done in recent weeks, and the engine will continue to bed in.
The second lockdown hasn’t given us an awful lot of opportunities to get ourselves familiar with our Kuga Vignale, with recent journeys confined to essential shopping only. But the time at home has given us plenty of time to research the engine that powers our long-term Kuga.
The EcoBlue range of engines was first pressed into service in Ford’s commercial vehicle range as far back as 2016, making its debut in the Transit two-tonne and Transit Custom. Designed to produce anything from 99bhp right up to 237bhp, the powerplant in our car sits towards the top of the hierarchy. A clean-sheet design, it was developed under the ‘Panther’ codename and rather than being designed with a partner, like the old 2.0-litre unit was with the PSA Group, this new powerplant is an in-house design, engineered by teams based at Dunton in the UK and in Germany.
Goals for the new engine included a cleaner-burning combustion system and reduced friction that sees an improvement to fuel economy by around 13 per cent. A strong, but lightweight engine block that features an aluminium ladder is designed to not only reduce vibration, but noise, too. A new belt-in-oil system is utilised to drive the cams, resulting in less friction, and the head’s intake system has been designed from the outset to balance the air between each cylinder. Latest generation eight-hole Piezo injectors are used in the EcoBlue engines, with the ability to inject 2,000 bar pressure, considerably higher than the previous Duratec powerplant.
If you compare old Kuga with new, firstly, there’s a brand new eight-speed torque converted equipped eight-speed automatic transmission, in place of the previous six-speed twin-clutch automatic gearbox. The latest car produces 188bhp and 295lb ft of torque, compared to 177bhp and 295lb ft of torque for its predecessor. Performance is enhanced, too, with the top speed 5mph faster at 129mph, while acceleration to 62mph takes 8.7 seconds, down from 10 seconds dead. And while CO2 emissions have only dropped by 1g/km to 160g/km on our car, fuel economy has been boosted from 38.1 to 39.2mpg to 47.9 to 49.6mpg in my car. That’s a useful 10mpg improvement that’s likely to be vaguely achievable in the real world.
Date arrived 1st December 2020
Economy (WLTP combined) 47.9-49.6
Economy (On test) 40.8mpg