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Ford Kuga strong driving dynamics

Ford Kuga maintains a solid on-road stance despite the increased centre of gravity.

Using proven and established Ford C-car chassis components and technology as a solid basis, Ford’s engineers tailored, tuned and calibrated each component and aspect of the ride and handling to ensure the Ford Kuga carries the Blue Oval family pedigree for strong driving dynamics.

“With the Focus we had an established portfolio to use as a basis and our shared technologies initiative within Ford Motor Company allows us even more possibilities to develop vehicles like Kuga,” Herrmann said.

Engineered to provide car-like qualities

The challenge when developing the new Ford Kuga was to bring passenger car-like DNA characteristics into the crossover segment. Ford’s engineers had a number of targets and areas that contribute to the Kuga’s characteristics:

  • A high level of agility, low level of steering wheel angle demand, avoiding a ‘big-car’ feel, despite a high seating position
  • A high level of ride quality while still providing excellent body control
  • A low level of roll angle and low roll velocity during cornering, despite the higher centre of gravity
  • A high level of steering precision
  • The key overall target was to ensure that the Ford Kuga achieved high levels of ride, handling, braking and steering performance within the segment.
  • Although Ford’s engineers have a wealth of proven and established technologies available to them it is important to understand that the Ford Kuga is not the result simply of a ‘copy and paste’ solution from other models.

Unique suspension and steering geometry had to be developed, but still based on reliable C-car components such as the front axle with MacPherson strut suspension, Ford’s Control Blade independent rear suspension already fitted to many of the latest Ford models, a solid body structure and a low-friction steering system.

The Ford Kuga uses many systems and components in order to achieve the programme’s targets:

  • New front shock absorber valving
  • Rear shock absorbers that are larger than those fitted to Ford’s C segment cars
  • New front suspension ‘jounce’ bumper
  • New front and rear suspension top mounts
  • Hydraulic rebound stops
  • New rear anti-roll bar system
  • New rear suspension knuckle and subframe to provide significant stiffness improvements
  • New front and rear suspension geometry
  • New hydrobush in the front suspension lower control arm
  • New front and rear wheel bearings for improved stiffness
  • Wide front track width –1575mm
  • Long wheelbase –2690mm
  • Ford Kuga ride

Despite its compact SUV dimensions, the Ford Kuga has a wide track and long wheelbase to help ensure the Ford Kuga maintains a solid on-road stance despite the increased centre of gravity.

To achieve a high level of ride quality for on-road usage combined with the demand of high body articulation angles for excellent off-road traction and manoeuvrability, the front and rear damper systems have been optimised.

The front shock absorbers utilise a new valving system. An industry-first from Ford, the valving system allows a better tuning in ‘jounce’ to rebound balance for better body control. The valving system helps to reduce suspension noise, thus contributing to the best possible ride and SQ&V characteristics.

Hydraulic rebound stops are located within the front shock absorbers of the Ford Kuga, further improving suspension noise suppression.

The improvements to the front shock absorbers had to be balanced with the rear. The rear shock absorbers of the Ford Kuga were therefore increased in size, in order to reduce the internal pressure level. This ensures an even better ‘tunability’ throughout the damper speed range, an especially important consideration in off-road conditions.

The improved tunability of both shock absorber systems was also key in minimising so-called ‘headtoss’, a term coined by Ford’s engineers to describe the unpleasant lateral jerks usually associated with off-roading where a higher level of wheel travel occurs. This is further supported by a new anti-roll bar system with improved efficiency.

A new rear anti-roll bar system gives a significantly increased ‘efficiency’, which in driving dynamics terms means an optimised response time. These actions also enabled a reduction in the anti-roll bar diameter, a main parameter of headtoss-causing driving situations.

The positive headtoss characteristics are further enabled by front and rear suspension geometry that has been especially devised for the Ford Kuga.

They employ ‘off-road optimised rollcentre’ positions. The rollcentre positions can be tuned to create individuality to each car’s driving dynamics. For the Ford Kuga, Ford engineers chose a high position to enable the desired low car-like roll motions during cornering while at the same time allow for a quick steering response through optimised lateral load transfer.

Ford Kuga steering

Front and rear geometry settings of the Ford Kuga are a key enabler to providing the desired car-like steering attribute targets. The Ford Kuga also includes a quick steering ratio, further improving agility, precision and manoeuvrability.

The high level of structural stiffness within the body and chassis systems were optimised on the Ford Kuga to ensure that outstanding driving quality is delivered. A new front suspension turret brace that reinforces the top mount attachment areas was developed to cope with increased loads. Stiff prop-shaft brackets that reinforce the tunnel area are also used.

Because of the ‘intelligent’ AWD capability of the new Ford Kuga, it was necessary to incorporate significant stiffness into the car while avoiding unwanted weight gain. To ensure this, Ford engineers developed a stiff rear suspension crossmember and new stiff cast knuckles.

These overall actions to maximise stiffness caused the camber stiffness on Ford Kuga to be raised by 40 per cent at the rear and 25 per cent on the front. Elastokinematiks of the front and rear suspension have been adapted to these changes by the use of a number of new suspension bushes.

Low roll motion and a direct and predictable steering response on a high level of agility form the basis for crossover steering precision and feel. Coupled with Ford’s proven and established Electro-Hydraulic Power Assisted Steering (EHPAS) system enables speed-dependent steering efforts.

Ford Kuga handling

The significant structural stiffness of the Ford Kuga was not only a key means to achieving the desired steering characteristics but also provide the key to outstanding handling performance.

Superior cornering capability with the highest level of ‘steady state’ and transient stability are the result of these efforts. Together with excellent steering performance, the Ford Kuga achieves conventional passenger car-like handling and gives the driver the highest level of confidence under all conditions.

Specific to the ‘intelligent’ AWD is an electronically controlled ‘on demand’ rear-wheel-drive system. The system transmits as much torque to the rear wheels as needed to ensure the best traction under all possible cornering and accelerating conditions, while being careful to avoid a negative impact on the fuel consumption.

The ‘intelligent’ AWD system continually provides levels of torque to the rear axle depending on the driver’s style and driving conditions. Determined by acceleration levels, steering wheel angle and vehicle speed, among numerous other smaller parameters, the torque to the rear wheels can vary from 10 per cent for cruising on-road to 50 per cent when a more enthusiastic driving style is adopted.

The torque provided to the rear of the vehicle is based purely on the demands of the driver or driving situation. Coupled with our electronic Traction Control System (TCS) and Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), it gives instant and seamless reactions just when the driver demands it.

Various signals from the Ford Kuga’s Controller Area Network (CAN) system such as vehicle speed, steering angle and driver’s torque demand, among others, are used to transfer optimum torque to the rear axle.

With agile manoeuvring and stable handling the Ford Kuga delivers on the expectations of road ride and handling, continuing Ford’s acclaimed reputation as a leader in driving dynamics. The combination of the ‘intelligent’ AWD system and the specific tuning of the chassis components make the Ford Kuga a highly capable and comfortable car for on- and off-road driving.

Equipped with disc brakes all-round, the Ford Kuga gives assured braking performance at all times. All models feature standard Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) and Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) with Anti Rollover Mitigation (ARM) and Electronic Brake Assist (EBA).

The ABS is specially tuned for Ford Kuga to give good brake performance and high levels of stability. Vehicle stability and short stopping distances are achieved by the use of individual rear wheel brake pressure control.

Integrated electronic systems

To deliver a very high degree of stability and driver confidence the Ford Kuga is equipped with a complex and highly integrated network of electronic driver assistance systems. Each of these assistance systems is designed and calibrated to share its data with the other systems to ensure that all aspects will be considered for potential electronic intervention.

Dynamic Stability Control (DSC)

The standard DSC system continually monitors the vehicle’s progress and will activate only when it is needed during critical driving situations. This enables the driver to enjoy fully the Ford Kuga’s driving qualities without suffering disturbing and possibly unexpected interventions from the DSC system. The seamless engagement and intervention of the DSC system also reduces the likelihood of the driver manually switching it off.

Dedicated axle software analyses and controls the yaw; making over- and understeer almost negligible. If the software determines too much body roll it will reduce the torque to the wheels and will apply the brakes to the wheel(s) as necessary.

The system is capable of individually braking only one wheel – or any combination of up to three wheels – if the situation demands it. This is especially important for increased performance, particularly in understeer situations where excessive speed entering corners can be reduced much more effectively.

In oversteer situations – and depending on the road friction and Ford Kuga’s stability levels – the intelligent logic of the DSC will decide to brake either the front or rear axle, or both, to achieve an effective, comfortable and imperceptible level of DSC intervention.

The Ford Kuga’s DSC system is so advanced it is capable of detecting variations in the car’s behaviour due to consequential elements such as tyre wear or vehicle loads at any given point.

The DSC’s ‘matrix of events’ will ‘learn’ the real behaviour of the car and adjust itself to significantly increase the performance and robustness of DSC interventions.

DSC is also capable of reducing the amount of torque transmitted to the rear axle down to 0Nm. This interface between DSC and AWD is used to stabilise the car in case oversteer occurs while the driver maintains a full-throttle position.

Several areas of tuning were focused on in developing Ford Kuga’s DSC system:

  • To achieve maximum directional support in critical driving situations and maximise the vehicle’s active safety elements within their physical limits and tolerances.
  • To offer maximum traction performance for on- and off-road driving.
  • To adapt DSC tuning to the car to allow the passive elements to work at their full potential.
  • To eliminate the need for the driver to switch between DSC modes when driving from one surface type to another by implementing robust tuning and intelligent DSC logic.
  • The Ford Kuga’s state-of-the-art DSC system therefore incorporates:
  • Anti Lock Braking (ABS) system including Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and Corner Brake Control (CBC)
  • Emergency Brake Assist (EBA)

Traction Control System (TCS) which comprises:

  • Engine Traction Control System (ETCS) and Brake Lock Differential (BLD)
  • Engine Drag torque Control (EDC)
  • Anti Rollover Mitigation (ARM)
  • Accompanying systems for added driver confidence

Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD)

Limits the brake pressure applied to the rear brakes to maintain stability by preventing rear axle lock prior to the front axle locking.

Corner Brake Control (CBC)

Improves stability during partial braking and during EBD or ABS activation in bends by reducing pressure at the inner edge of the front wheels. This produces a stabilisation torque in case the vehicle ‘turns in’ too much.

Emergency Brake Assist (EBA)

EBA is responsible for rapidly building up brake pressure when activated. The level of activation depends on the driver’s intervention and is triggered by a rapid brake pedal movement in an emergency event.

During this time the brake pressure applied by the driver is not high enough to achieve maximum brake forces, therefore the EBA increases the pressure applied to the brake pads until the system enters ABS mode. This results in the shortest possible braking distance.

The Traction Control System (TCS) consist of two parts:

  1. Engine Track Control System (ETCS)

Traction Control eliminates excessive wheel spin to guarantee optimal traction performance and stability. This becomes even more important for cars with off-road capability. The Ford Kuga’s TCS will reduce the engine torque to a level that delivers optimal wheel slip to achieve maximum acceleration.

        2.  Brake Lock Differential (BLD)

When necessary, one wheel on each driven axle can be braked to transfer torque to the wheel with the most grip – the BLD will control the torque distribution between left and right wheels. In addition, the ‘intelligent’ AWD system will control the torque distribution between the front and rear wheels. This ensures that each wheel will receive the optimum amount of traction torque for every road condition.

On high-friction surfaces TCS delivers maximum acceleration without the need for the driver to modulate wheelspin by adjusting the pressure to the throttle pedal. In off-road conditions the intelligent TCS logic will allow sufficient wheel slip to ‘dig’ through conditions such as deep sand or mud without the need for the driver to switch the system off – which otherwise may be expected.

Even in conditions where only one wheel is able to take traction forces, the TCS and AWD systems will make optimal use of the available surface friction.

This is further testimony to the Ford Kuga’s capability in off-road conditions:

  • Engine Drag torque Control (EDC)
  • EDC requests positive torque from the powertrain control system to compensate for the engine drag and powertrain losses during specific driving manoeuvres. Conventionally on low-friction surfaces the engine drag forces may slow the wheels too much causing them to slip. EDC is applied to re-accelerate the slipping wheel(s) and build up traction forces between the tyres and the road. EDC serves to support vehicle stability.
  • Ford Kuga’s TCS has two elements that can be selected by the system to ensure good traction at all times:

Reducing engine torque to a level which delivers optimal wheel slip to achieve maximum acceleration:

The ability to brake one wheel on each driven axle or transfer torque to the wheel with the most grip. This means that the TCS will control the torque distribution between front and rear wheels and that every wheel will receive the right amount of traction for the road conditions
Anti Rollover Mitigation (ARM)

An Anti Rollover Mitigation (ARM) system is integrated into the DSC system to further increase driving safety.

While ARM is braking the front wheels the engine torque is reduced to zero. These combined actions generate understeer and reduces the Ford Kuga’s road speed in order to reduce the lateral acceleration and minimise the possibility of a rollover. As soon as the potential rollover situation has passed ARM stops the braking and engine intervention for normal driving to resume.

The DSC, and therefore its integrated systems, can be switched off by the driver via the info display screen in the driver’s console. However, for maximum safety, the ARM system will always remain active.

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