By Dave Abrahams
Pretoria - Most carmakers, when they announce a facelifted model, will emphasise new trim elements, headlights and bumper styling that make the car look different without significantly altering the basic metalwork.
Ford, however, has gone completely the other way with its 2015-spec Kuga SUV - the only external change mentioned in the media release is the addition of three new metallic paint colours.
But under the bonnet there's a whole lotta shaking going on, with an upgraded diesel engine, a new, seriously muscular petrol engine and a downsized entry-level power-train that runs seven percent cleaner than its predecessor.
So, let's get under the skin of the up-specced Kuga, starting with the two-litre TDCi, which has been tweaked to deliver a claimed 132kW (up from 120) and 400Nm (was 340); the latter figure implies a big improvement in pulling power, especially given that all-wheel drive is standard on diesel Kugas.
At the same time CO2 emissions have been reduced by 19g/km to 140g/km.
The entry-level 1.6-litre EcoBoost engine, by contrast, has been ditched in favour of a new 1.5-litre turbopetrol four that burps only 143g/km of CO2 - 11 less than its predecessor - while delivering a lot more power (134kW, compared to 110) and the same torque rating of 240Nm.
But if you want a seriously muscular beetle-crusher Kuga, listen up: Ford has dropped the Focus ST's two-litre Ecoboost prime mover into a new flagship Kuga.
Okay, it's been detuned from 184kW and 360Nm to 177kW and 340NM in the interests of a wider spread of power, but that's still enough for Ford to claim that it's the most powerful in the mid-sized SUV segment.
And just to prove that it's not only the devil that's in the details, idle stop and an active grille shutter are now standard across the range, as are cruise control and tyre pressure monitoring