When you make it in journalism, you usually get offered a column about one of the following: restaurants, technology, films, theatre, beauty or cars. Most people go for the food option. I chose vehicles. But the longer I write about cars, the more it feels as if I actually ended up writing about gadgets.
Cars nowadays are generally well built. In engineering terms, there is little to differentiate them - some are literally the same, rebadged versions of a particular model set apart only by gizmos. And Ford's second version of the Kuga is an illustration of just how important gadgetry has become.
At its heart, the Kuga is excellent. It is a better drive than much of the opposition - the Nissan Qashqai, for instance. The engine provides just the right amount of power. It is well built - nice seats, good materials. The driving position, halfway between a saloon and a 4x4, is great for visibility. The Titanium X version I drove, with 17-inch alloys and privacy glass and a white paint job, looked handsome. But almost all of this good work was undermined by the technology.
Which is not to say Ford hasn't tried. The company claims that the Kuga has more gadgets on it than any other of its cars in Europe. But maybe this is the problem: it is technology for the sake of it. Take the hands-free tailgate.
It opens not only at the push of a button on a key but also when you wave your foot beneath it. But should you be in a rush and want to open it yourself, it whirrs like a printer experiencing a paper jam. You end up waiting for the electronic theatre to do the job for you, which surely defeats the point of technology - to make life easier.
Then there is the SYNC entertainment system. It is quick and efficient but the controls for it are counterintuitive. It is powerful, but the size of the main screen is so small - there are mobile phones with bigger screens - that you cannot begin to appreciate what it can do. It's like having a Rolex watch and replacing the dial with one made by Casio.
It should come as no surprise that the system is manufactured, at least in part, by Sony, a once-mighty technology company that has been scuppered by its inability to understand the importance of simplicity and elegance. Ford should heed the warning.
RATING: 4 OUT OF 5
SPECIFICATION - FORD KUGA 2.0 TDCI TITANIUM X
Engine: 1,997 cc, four-cyl, turbodiesel
Transmission: six-speed automatic
Fuel consumption: 45.6 mpg (combined cycle)
CO2 emissions: 162 g/km
Power: 163 bhp @ 3,750 rpm
Torque: 251 lb/ft @ 2,000 rpm
0-62 mph: 10.4 seconds
Top speed: 122 mph