It is hard to believe that it is almost a decade since the original Ford Kuga took to the road.

Back in 2008 it had few real rivals, but the sports utility vehicle segment has seen a massive change since then with most manufacturers now offering a mid-size challenger.

Plenty of pressure on Ford then to make sure that the redesigned Kuga can still cut it against newer competition like the Peugeot 3008 and SEAT Ateca.

And the facelift for 2017, with a front grille similar to its big brother the Edge, restyled lights and new tailgate, has given it a real lift.

There are some welcome changes too inside, with the plethora of buttons on the dashboard replaced by an eight-inch touchscreen and Ford’s Sync 3 connectivity system, that gives you voice control over everything from audio and navigation, to climate control and connected smartphones.

Simply by pushing a button and saying “I need a coffee,” “I need petrol,” and “I need to park,” you can locate nearby cafes, petrol stations or car parks, and find rail stations, airports and hotels.

iPhone users can activate Apple CarPlay to make phone calls, access music, send and receive messages and get directions while Android users can activate Android Auto.

The cabin is a pleasant place, with plenty of soft-touch materials on the dashboard and doors and a new electronic parking brake freeing up space in the centre console.

The multi-function steering wheel has fewer buttons and switches, which makes it easier to operate and it is also available with heated leather.

In the rear seats, there is plenty of space for passengers, but the boot is still on the small size for the size of car.

Power comes from a range of petrol and diesel engines. A new 120 horsepower 1.5-litre TDCi diesel engine replaces the outgoing 2.0-litre TDCi, but the front-wheel-drive ST-Line test model was fitted with a 150 horsepower version of the 2.0-litre TDCi diesel engine. This gives plenty of pulling power, especially as the turbocharger kicks in.

Ride and handling are decent enough, though the sports suspension picks up chatter on poor road surfaces.

A 180 horsepower version of the 2.0-litre engine, which is available for the all-wheel-drive model, is the engine of choice for towing.

Petrol choices include 130 horsepower and 150 horsepower versions of the 1.5-litre EcoBoost engine in front-wheel drive form and a 182 horsepower version for the all-wheel-drive model.

Prices start from about £22,000 for the Zetec model, but buyers of this type of car like their luxury with the vast majority going for more upmarket specification vehicles. The ST-Line model driven here is fitted with a mass of standard equipment including the SYNC 3 system, ST-Line seats, sports suspension, rain-sensing wipers, heated windscreen, keyless start and cruise control to name a few.

The Kuga is now even easier to park, thanks to a set of ultrasonic sensors that feed into a system that automatically parks the car both into parallel and perpendicular spots. Yet more sensors are fitted for optional systems that help you drive out of a parallel parking space and warn of approaching vehicles when reversing out of a parking space.

The car can also be fitted with a collision avoidance system that uses sensors at the front to look for stationary objects in the road ahead and pre-charges the brakes if the car is approaching an object too quickly. If you do not respond, the system reduces engine power and automatically applies the brakes to reduce the impact of a collision, or avoid it altogether.

The latest generation Ford MyKey technology also allows new Kuga owners to programme a key for younger drivers that can inhibit incoming phone calls; restrict top speed; prevent deactivation of driver assistance and safety features; reduce audio system maximum volume, and disable the audio system altogether if occupants are not using safety belts.

Ford says its redesigned Kuga and the larger Edge are among five new or redesigned Ford vehicles that will compete in the SUV and crossover space in the next three years and the company’s focus on this segment of the market is understandable. For one industry analyst is predicting that sales in the SUV segment are poised to increase to 27 per cent of all vehicle sales in Europe by 2020.

Auto facts

Model: Ford Kuga ST-Line 2.0 TDCI FWD

Price: £30,390 as tested

Insurance group: 23E (1-50)

Fuel consumption (combined): 60.1mpg

Top speed: 121mph

Length: 454cm/178in

Width: 184cm/72.4in

Luggage capacity: 14.3 cu ft

Fuel tank capacity: 13.2 gallons/60 litres

CO2 emissions: 122g/km

Warranty: Three years/60,000 miles