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The Ford Kuga made its official debut in the country earlier this evening, with the second-generation C520 being introduced in a single variant guise. The Titanium 1.6 litre EcoBoost rolls in priced at RM159,999 on-the-road with insurance, which is RM8k less than the estimated price stated when bookings opened for it last month.

In terms of specification and equipment levels, what’s on the SUV follows that mentioned in our earlier review. To recap, the 1.6 litre turbocharged direct-injection engine has 180 PS at 5,700 rpm and 240 Nm at 1,600 rpm to 5,000 rpm for output numbers, with performance specs including a 200 km/h top speed.

The mill is paired to a six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission with a sequential Sport Mode, specially calibrated for the EcoBoost and featuring revised gear ratios and a new torque converter.

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The Kuga is shod with an Intelligent AWD system, with items such as Torque Vectoring Control, AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control, Curve Control, Trailer Sway Control and Hill Start Assist in the mix.

Leading the tech list is a segment-first hands-free tailgate, in which simply sweeping a foot under the rear bumper allows the opening or closing of the rear tailgate automatically. Sensors detect a combination of the intelligent access key fob – in your pocket, bag or purse – and a shin/leg sweeping motion as a safeguard against accidental openings.

The system can be programmed to raise the liftgate to the desired height, and also has safety sensors in place to stop motion when there is an obstacle in its path, ensuring no accidental closings.

Also to be found, an Active Grille Shutter as seen on the Focus and voice-activated Ford SYNC connectivity. The Kuga is also equipped with keyless entry with push-start ignition, automatic climate control, a nine-speaker Sony CD/MP3 audio system featuring Bluetooth, USB and iPod connectivity and a 4.2-inch TFT liquid crystal display.

Safety kit on the five-star NCAP-rated vehicle includes seven airbags (front, front thorax/pelvis, side curtain, driver knee) as well as Electronic Stability Control (ESP) with ABS and electronic brake assist.

As also mentioned in the review of the Kuga, the SUV sits on 17-inch nine double-spoke alloys and 235/55 tyres and the Titanium specification for Malaysia has the seats fitted out in a leather/fabric combination.

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An update on the stalk controls positioning as stated in the review: the launch vehicles today had an European-styled left indicator/right wiper layout, despite not being equipped with the Technology Pack, so guess it’s that layout then for the Kugas we get.

Four exterior colours (Ginger Ale, Panther Black, Frozen White and Moondust Silver) are available for the Kuga, which comes with a five-year/200,000 km new vehicle warranty and a three-year/60,000 km Extended Service Plan. Apparently, the initial batch of 150 units ordered by SDAC have been accounted for, so things sound like they’re getting off to a very good start for the Escape replacement.