So here we are again with another Inside Lane EPIC road trip. With our European exploits of the summer now a distant memory, we hit the road, or snow in this case. Welcome to Ivalo in the very north of Finland. A quick glance of the map reveals that our starting point is actually within the Arctic Circle where temperatures in the preceding days have been as low as -24. Thankfully, a warm spell is flowing through the area bringing things up to a much toastier -5. Settling down in our first hotel before making a start the following morning left me time to ponder a now slightly irrelevant question… Were we being a bit ambitions with this trip? 366km through an environment where Mother Nature tries her best to make life a near impossibility. This is the Kuga Arctic Adventure.
The morning soon arrived under the cover of darkness thanks to this part of the world experiencing only a handful of daylight hours. Snow blanketed the ground creating a vast white vista outside of my window. Before collecting the keys to our noble steed that would provide, not only a mode of transport, but a vital lifeline, we were invited to get a lay of the land via snowmobile. Being the love child of a tank and motorbike, the snowmobile is an interesting machine to look at. Domed bodywork sits between a set of skis whilst a single large track underpins the rear. Perfectly adapted to such an environment, these skidoos are capable of well over 60 MPH in even the poorest of conditions. Acceleration is instant and more than capable of dismounting anyone not anticipating it. Picking our way through what appeared to be Narnia, the vast scale of the frozen land dawned upon me. You could choose any direction and travel for hours without encountering another soul.
The snowmobile may well be the ideal means of getting around, but it couldn’t provide protection against the bitter cold on our northbound journey. Enter the new 2017 Ford Kuga. This family SUV was here to test its metal and in ST-Line specification, it certainly struck a purposeful pose against the arctic backdrop. A new trapezoid grill brings aesthetics inline with its bigger brother, the Edge. Sitting 10mm lower than the standard Kuga, but still maintaining a healthy ground clearance, our 2.0 litre diesel AWD model was well equipped for the road trip.
Climbing into the Kuga’s rather sporty half leather seats, and making good use of the dual zone climate control, we set off. Pointing the nose north towards the Norwegian boarder, a reassuring wave of torque began proceedings. The all wheel drive system proved its worth almost immediately after a photoshoot next to a frozen lake. The frozen wasteland was indeed a gasp inducing sight, as was the rapidly dropping temperature, but unless the Ford could rejoin the road we risked becoming a permanent part of it. Initially the lack of studded tyres was a worry but Ford’s intelligent AWD made the most of the traction provided by a set of Continental winter tyres. Sending power where appropriate the SUV found some grip in the snow and relocated itself on our ice covered path to Norway. The roads were slippery, but the 2017 Ford Kuga provided stability and reassurance. Refinement levels were also good, something very important when covering such vast distances in a particular vehicle. Darkness fell again plunging the awe inspiring landscape into the black. Crossing the boarder we decided to visit the locals. A centre for Husky dogs played host to dozens of the most enthusiastic 6 month old pups. Whilst young, and incredibly beautiful, they were already showing their pure strength. Whilst the Northern Lights proved illusive, the frankly delicious hot chocolate in these parts was not. Heading into the traditional Sami regions we were invited to an authentic reindeer dinner and native song. The people in these parts are very friendly and proud of their history.
The following morning again began in the dark with a row of Kuga’s being the only source of light outside. As the respectable boot swallowed all of our camera equipment once again, we set off. Whilst the previous day was full of discovery, this final leg of our journey would be about survival. Venturing further into the Arctic Circle towards Alto would deliver on its promise of challenging terrain. Temperatures again made themselves at home in the negative region and mountain roads were garnished with thick layers of black ice. As our path undulated Nature began to show off with snowcapped peaks and waterfalls frozen in time. It was truly breathtaking. As I surveyed these wonders of the world, the laws of physics decided to play a cruel visit. Rounding a cambered corner the Kuga began to shift laterally. I could feel the rear end begin to rotate as its momentum on the ice began to overtake that of the front. A sharp input of opposite lock and the cars stability program, working in tandem with the AWD system, was just enough to prevent a nose-first shunt into a barrier. This was a heart rate raising reminder that this part of the world is uninhabited for good reason.
Our arrival in Alto marked the end of our arctic adventure. The new Ford Kuga had delivered me safely through the snow, ice, and extreme cold. This trip was truly a once in a lifetime experience of this largely unvisited environment.
Another unforgettable road trip under Inside Lane’s belt, but certainly not the last. Don’t forget to check out our video of the Arctic Adventure!