The late adopter

It doesn’t look much, but the plug-in hybrid Kuga turns out to be an excellent all-round package with nothing to scare off PHEV newbies. By Chris Chilton Despite its hefty engine and the weight of the battery pack, driven carefully it could top 55mpg


After nine months of sterling service the three-pin plug socket on the side of my garage is looking for a new gig. I never did get round to plumbing in a proper EV charger because there wasn’t a need. The Kuga PHEV’s battery was small enough to charge without one, big enough to deliver an excellent 30-plus miles of EV driving in the right conditions, and I had the option of not bothering at all.

When the Ford arrived I wondered how often I’d settle for the last option, through a mix of disorganis­ation (forgetting to plug in at night) and because, historical­ly, most of my driving has been long-distance stuff that didn’t make best of a PHEV’s strengths.

Though I’ve driven hundreds of hybrids and EVs, the Kuga was the first electrifie­d car I’d spent any serious time with. It didn’t take long for it to bring me round, and much of the credit for that goes to its generous WLTP-rated 34-mile electric range. The area around my house is fairly hilly so I never quite managed that figure, though other owners have reported beating it. Recent cold months have dropped the usable range into the mid 20s, but there was always enough charge for a day spent doing local chores.

I was surprised to find that despite its hefty 2.5-litre petrol engine and the weight of the battery pack, the Kuga could top 55mpg on a long trip when driven carefully, and do more than 450 miles with a full charge and brimmed tank. The next full charge via my household socket would take around six hours.

But what about the rest of the Kuga package? I didn’t love the styling; think of the Focus, then think what happens to packets of crisps at 35,000 feet. Or the interior’s too-small, too-low buttons. The ride on ST-Line suspension was slightly stiff, and the CVT transmissi­on robbed you of any connection to the car that might encourage you to up the pace. So I didn’t bother.

But the Kuga has other strengths. Like masses of interior space, a huge boot (only fractional­ly smaller than a non-hybrid Kuga’s), generous standard equipment levels, and, bar last month’s phantom tyre pressure warning (fixed by adding air and resetting), it proved entirely reliable. There are also some great Kuga deals out there.

The bland, bloated design would probably stop me buying one, but the rest of the package is seriously compelling, not to mention a great introducti­on to the world of electrifie­d cars for those of us late to the party.

Count the cost

Cost new £40,255 Part-exchange £31,045 Cost per mile 13.6p Cost per mile including depreciati­on 94.1p

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