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Few test vehicles in 2013 impressed us as much as the Kuga. After a slow start in 2011 with the launch of the previous-generation model in the twilight of its life, Ford’s compact SUV gained traction when the new Kuga debuted last year and then immediately shot to the top of the pile. The reasons are simple: it looks decidedly modern, the cabin is large, well equipped and solidly built, the powertrains are strong and efficient, it rides with great maturity yet handles as well as you’d expect of a Ford, and the pricing is right.
Our favourite is the 110 kW/240 N.m 1,6T Trend at R339 900, which strikes a perfect balance between strong performance and frugal fuel consumption. But don’t discount the 2,0-litre turbo-diesel; models with this engine may start at R390 700, but that’s still less than what most rival manufacturers charge.
Were it priced slightly more reasonably, the CR-V might have retained its crown. It’s even bigger inside than the Kuga and Honda’s reputation for reliability ensures excellent residuals.
Audi A4 Allroad
One Audi replaces another… Beating last year’s runner-up, the Q3, thanks to its larger cabin and more accomplished road manners, the A4 Allroad also impressed with its refined, frugal engines and solid build.
If it’s a great-value seven-seater MPV you’re after, look no further than the revised Verso. Starting at R269 200 for the 1,6 S, the Toyota undercuts the starting price of last year’s
winner, the Volkswagen Touran, by almost R20 000. Toyota clearly did its homework on family needs: the cabin is extremely versatile, with the second row providing loads of seating space or folding flat into the floor together with the third. Safety was a priority, too; even the base version features seven airbags.
LOOK OUT FOR
The premium end of this segment will undergo a shake-up when the Mercedes-Benz GLA and Porsche Macan debut in the second quarter. But don’t forget the Nissan Qashqai (see our impressions on page 44) and facelifted BMW X3. We’re also excited to test the Fiat 500L.
Check out all the winners from our Top 12 Best Buys for 2014 here (click).