Ford Kuga: The gadgety, guilt-free 4x4?

Ford is trying to change perceptions with its new Kuga -- a tech-filled, low-emissions all-wheel drive that it reckons handles more like a hatchback

Owning a 4x4 in London is like being a self-confessed murderer of new-born kittens. It has nothing to do with the fact they take up six parking spaces and are prone to reversing over children. No, that much we can handle. The major problem is the amount of carbon monoxide they belch into our fragile atmosphere.

Ford is trying to change perceptions with its new Kuga -- a tech-filled, low-emissions all-wheel drive based on the Ford iosis X concept (pictured bottom). Forgetting for a moment that kuga means 'plague' in some eastern European languages, and that Ford actually had another car called the Cougar, the new 4x4 is pretty interesting.

It'll pack all manner of tech toys, including a DAB radio, keyless push-button starting, voice control, a rumoured reverse-parking camera, and four-wheel drive that automatically kicks in when the onboard computer detects the front wheels are losing traction. That's the hotness right there.

There's good news on the smog-belching front, too. Ford says the Kuga only produces 169g/km, which is about the same as you get from a Volkswagen Beetle. For reference, its main rivals, the popular Honda CR-V 2.0 iVTEC SE and the Volkswagen Tiguan Sport 2.0 TDI 140PS chuck out approximately 192g/km, and 182g/km respectively. Fuel-wise, the Kuga is said to achieve up to 44mpg, which is slightly more than the CR-V's 43.5mpg, and considerably -- approximately 15mpg -- more than you can expect from many petrol cars.

Is it enough to stop the 4x4 witch hunt? Probably not, but it's a definite step in the right direction. -Rory Reid

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