Motoring editor Jeremy Taylor and sustainable fashion expert Jessica Saunders drive a Ford favourite with plug-in hybrid technology, the Kuga ST Line 2.5 PHEV.
The Green Lane: Kuga ST Line 2.5 PHEV
[JS] SUV sales have been booming for years. The Kuga seems to be very popular on the road, why so?
[JT] There are lots of them around for good reason. A combination of price, economy and value for money – as well as one of the best large SUVs for drivers looking to keep their company car tax bill down.
How much are we talking about?
There are lots of Kuga models in the Ford line-up, starting from a very reasonable £23,000. However, this PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) is near the top of the range at almost £35,000. That puts it up against popular rivals such as the Mazda CX-5, Renault Kadjar and upmarket BMW X1.
It’s quite a curvy car – not exactly standout though
I’d agree but there are some who say it looks a little like the Aston Martin DBX SUV – which is no bad thing. Just don’t expect supercar performance from this family mover.
It has a 2.5-litre petrol engine and a battery pack, so why so?
Well, the Kuga is a lot heavier than the Ford Fiesta it shares a build platform with and the battery pack only aids performance for a few moments. Despite the 225bhp under the bonnet, the SUV labours to 60mph in just under ten seconds.
We drove it around Tuscany and on some hills the Kuga seemed to struggle a bit didn’t it?
Yes, the petrol engine was screaming at times – not very relaxing in the cabin and quite disconcerting during an overtake. It’s odd because there seems to be plenty of power available, yet the car really laboured under harsh acceleration.
I thought it would perform better around town, with the battery providing the power. But there was some jolting as the electric motor kicked in?
And the electric-only range is just 35 miles. However, that will be more than enough for many people on a daily commute in the UK. The good news is that when the battery runs out, the Kuga will still manage a very respectable 50mpg.
The levels of equipment on the ST Line were also pretty impressive for a car at this price. Rear-view camera, a really good navigation system and even windscreen heating for those frosty mornings
I have to agree – I was genuinely surprised by what came as standard. And there was a lot of space both front and rear, with a decent-sized boot and a proper panoramic roof that opens. Unfortunately, there is still a lot of cheap, hard plastic around the cabin that doesn’t match key rivals from Peugeot and Mazda.
A good choice for a family buyer on a tight budget then?
Yes, especially if they have a plug-in charge point at home and can make use of the battery pack on a daily basis. With fuel prices high, this is exactly the kind of car to help keep family bills down. It just lacks a premium feel to the interior and a slick, more sophisticated drivetrain.
Main image: The Ford Kuga ST Line 2.5 PHEV, image courtesy of Ford.