Mention “UAV” and most people would think of an unmanned aerial vehicle – a buzzing drone, with or without an underslung camera. The Kuga and CX-5 are another kind of UAV – urban activity vehicle. Like drones, these vehicular UAVs have become popular here.
Both cars are comfortable, practical, and suitable for urban and suburban excursions. But these vehicles have different personalities and characteristics. And I think the CX-5 looks more stylo milo than the Kuga.
The compact Ford crossover, around since 2013, has had a recent refresh. There are no styling changes, but the car is packed with fresh goodies that make it more appealing than before.
Under the hood, the 1.6-litre EcoBoost engine has been downsized to 1.5-litre, but the turbocharged 4-pot is otherwise unchanged. There’s 182bhp and 240Nm, coupled to a 6-speed dual-clutch transmission.
That means the power delivery is smooth and uninterrupted, with the only thing missing being paddle-shifters, which would have made the driving experience a tad more exciting.
Unlike the turbo Ford, the CX-5 engine relies on natural aspiration. The 2-litre 4-cylinder produces 165bhp and 210Nm. It loses out in pure numbers, and doesn’t have the midrange punch of the Kuga. But thanks to the lack of turbo lag and perhaps the absence of four-wheel-drive, the Mazda feels more eager off the line.
The CX-5 has six gears like the Kuga, and its conventional automatic performs just as well as Ford’s fancier dual-clutch gearbox, with the Mazda’s torque converter “locking up” most of the time for added efficiency and immediacy.
On paper, the CX-5 accelerates more quickly than the Kuga, but has a lower maximum speed. On tarmac in the real world, there’s really not much of a performance difference between the two rival cars. And both are equally quiet on the move.
Still on real-world tarmac, the CX-5 corners with less body roll than the Kuga, but this comes at a price – the Mazda’s ride is firmer. The Japanese car has sharper turn-in, too, but the Kuga scores higher with the driver in terms of feel, feedback and road grip, while also giving him a more pliant ride.
Over our three-day test, both vehicles returned around 12km per litre, which is reasonable economy. Official figures, however, indicate that the Mazda is more fuel-efficient than the Ford, averaging an additional 2.1km per litre of petrol.
These are high-spec models (Kuga Titanium and CX-5 Premium), so their equipment levels are, well, high. The Ford’s is even higher than the Mazda’s.
In addition to “repeat” features such as keyless entry/ignition, dual-zone climate control, Xenon/LED exterior lights, solid hi-fi sound, an electrically adjusted driver’s seat and a multi-function steering wheel, the Kuga has a panoramic sunroof (against the Mazda’s regular one), active cruise control (unlike the Mazda’s standard-issue system), automated parking (unavailable in the CX-5) and four-wheel-drive (the CX-5 is front-drive).
But the Mazda has GPS satellite navigation, lane-keeping assistance/warning and blind-spot monitoring – all of which are absent in the Ford.
Inside both cabins, the materials used should meet the expectations of buyers in the $140k-$150k price bracket.
Personally, I prefer the Kuga’s fabric/leather upholstery, but I find the CX-5’s dashboard nicer, neater and easier to operate.
These are well-packaged five-seater crossovers, so they offer plenty of interior space, as well as easy accessibility for occupants.
So, which of these automotive UAVs would I choose to navigate the concrete jungle and the occasional park? If I ignore the $5.1k extra, I’ll pick the Ford Kuga.
Ford Kuga 1.5 (A)
ENGINE 1498cc, 16-valves, inline-4, turbocharged
MAX POWER 182bhp at 6000rpm
MAX TORQUE 240Nm at 1600-5000rpm
POWER TO WEIGHT 113bhp per tonne
GEARBOX 6-speed dual-clutch with manual select
0-100KM/H 10.1 seconds
TOP SPEED 200km/h
CONSUMPTION 13.5km/L (combined)
CO2 EMISSION 171g/km
PRICE INCL. COE $153,999 (no CEVS rebate/surcharge)
Mazda CX-5 2.0 (A)
ENGINE 1998cc, 16-valves, inline-4
MAX POWER 165bhp at 6000rpm
MAX TORQUE 210Nm at 4000rpm
POWER TO WEIGHT 108bhp per tonne
GEARBOX 6-speed automatic with manual select
0-100KM/H 9.5 seconds
TOP SPEED 187km/h
CONSUMPTION 15.6km/L (combined)
CO2 EMISSION 148g/km
PRICE INCL. COE $148,888 (no CEVS rebate/surcharge)