Starting Price: €44,863
Price as tested: €49,482
- Looks good, decent handling an SUV, competent EV performance
- Cabin feels a cheap in places for the money
WHAT IS IT?
The Kuga SUV has been doing good business for Ford in Europe and here in Ireland for some time now and with good reason. It is handsome, has the usual excellent Ford driving dynamics and isn’t bad value either. As it has developed it has become more like a taller Ford Focus and certainly in its latest iteration looks more like the Focus than ever before – which of course is no bad thing. Ford claims that the latest Kuga is some 28% more efficient than the model it replaces and that is, in part, thanks to the addition of some electrified versions, including the one you see here – the Plug-In Hybrid Version. The Kuga is a 5-seater only, and Ford could really do with a 7-seater SUV in their range.
HOW ABOUT THE LOOKS?
The latest Kuga, now in its 3rd generation has evolved into a much more handsome and less dowdy offering than it was before and can now lay claim to being one of the more handsome of the SUV / Crossover offerings. Our test car was the ST-Line, so got a full body kit that includes a unique front and rear fascia and bumper design; a rear painted diffusor, a front painted skid plate and a dark mesh grille as well as 18” Rock metallic alloy wheels. There are black roof rails, a large rear spoiler and red brake callipers to round up the sporty look and our test model was painted in the €1,006 Lucid Red.
WHAT IS THE INSIDE LIKE?
The cabin of the Kuga is pretty closely related to the Focus and while it is a nice place to be, some of the plastics could be a little better in places. There is a 12.3-inch instrument display behind the steering wheel which is clearly laid out and in the centre console, there is an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, which employs the now ubiquitous Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which when you use, you tend to pay little other attention to any of the other functionality of the infotainment system, such as using Google Maps over the in-built navigation, which always feels slightly inferior. There is more space in the Kuga than before in this 3rdgeneration model and there are no complaints at all about the space on offer.
WHAT IS IT LIKE TO DRIVE?
The Kuga PHEV combines a 2.5-litre, four-cylinder Atkinson-cycle petrol engine, electric motor and generator, and a 14.4 kWh lithium-ion battery to produce 225hp. The Kuga PHEV delivers a claimed 56km of electric-only driving on WLTP and this is totally believable given the prowess of the vehicles (especially when we put the correct tyre pressure into the tyres). It also, according to Ford is capable of returning 1.4 l/100km and C02 emissions are just 32g/km meaning that this is not just a frugal car to run, but it is cheap to tax too (at just €170 per year). The battery can be charged using a charging port on the front left-wing (from a wall box etc) or it can also be charged on the move using regenerative charging technology that captures kinetic energy that is normally lost during braking. To fully charge the battery from an external 230-volt electricity supply will take less than 6 hours. In a rather neat touch, drivers can choose when and how to deploy battery power using EV Auto, EV Now, EV Later and EV Charge modes. When the battery reaches its lowest state of charge, the Kuga automatically reverts to EV Auto mode – supplementing petrol engine power with electric motor assistance using recaptured energy for optimised fuel efficiency. This is a clever system that, as you can see, gives a variety of options and the transitions are all pretty seamless. If you have a wall box at home and there really is little point in driving a PHEV of any kind unless you can keep it charged, and your commute was within range, you could really do very well out of this car, spending most of your time in full EV mode. Even without being in full EV mode the needle Is slow to budge. It is only when the battery is fully depleted that it starts to make less sense. Ride and handling are good, Ford handling is always rewarding and it doesn’t get unsettled over poor surfaces either.
WHICH ONE SHOULD I BUY?
At nearly €50,000 for the model we drove, you would need to ensure that you had access to a charging point and your commute made sense before stumping up the extra money for the PHEV version. You could spend less on the Mild Hybrid Diesel and get very decent fuel economy figures. But if you can spend most of the time in EV mode then your fuel bills will drop dramatically and the PHEV version will start to make more sense.
IS IT SAFE?
The new architecture used on the 3rd generation Kuga meant enhanced crash performance and contributed to Kuga’s Euro NCAP 5-star safety rating, scoring 92 per cent for adult protection and receiving full points for both side barrier and the more severe side pole impact tests.
The Kuga is a handsome, smart PHEV that offers a good step towards full EV motoring for those that aren’t quite ready yet to jump in head first this is an excellent alternative. It looks good, is well equipped and feels potent too.
Ford Kuga PHEV ST-Line X
Engine: Four-cylinder inline petrol engine and 14.4 kWh lithium-ion battery
0-100km/h: 9.2 seconds
Fuel Economy: 1.4 l/100km
Top Speed: 200 km/h
Transmission: CVT automatic, front-wheel drive
Annual Motor Tax: €170 (Band A1)
Luggage Capacity: 475 litres, expanding out to 1,534 litres with the rear seats folded flat
Price as tested: €49,482
For more information log-on to www.ford.ie