MOTORS: Does Kuga answer any ongoing conundrum?
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While the government – whichever one it is after the next General Election – decides its policy on electrification, it leaves every potential new car buyer with a quandary.
It all seemed so clear until Rishi Sunak moved the goalposts and extended the end of new petrol and diesel car production from 2030 to 2035.
Now, with the five-year breathing space, should you go down the electric route or stick with the conventional internal combustion engine to power your next new pride and joy?
Then there’s the issue of the charging infrastructure which can’t cope with the existing demand so will be overstretched if we all go electric before many more charging points are up and running.
So maybe the best option in the meantime is to go hybrid, hedging your bets by using petrol but benefitting from the advantages of an electric motor for greater economy from the conventional engine.
There’s plenty of choice but I liked one of the latest offerings from Ford. The Kuga has all the appeal of a mid-size SUV with Ford’s tried and tested technology.
The featured model is the 2.5 litre Duratec Plug-In hybrid CVT automatic Black Package edition which came with big 20-inch performance alloys and ST-Line body styling with black highlights on the door mirrors, roof panel, spoiler, upper tailgate, roof rails and lower fascia at the front.
All of that, along with red brake calipers gave the car a more signficant look but with that package and no less than almost £5,000 of optional extras, it pushed the final price to more than £44,000 which is a hefty amount to fork out.
But, you are getting a lot for your money with almost every conceivable bit of safety and comfort technology including front camera, adaptive cruise control and active park assist where the car controls the accelerator, gears and braking to squeeze into our out of tight spaces. There’s also wireless charging for your phone, a retractable tow bar and 12-way powered front seats and with the technology pack, there’s full LED quad projector headlights and a head-up display.
The standard features are comprehensive too with a clear and simple 12.3-inch digital colour instrument cluster and an equally-impressive central 8-inch touchscreen for all the functions and importantly, it’s easy to use without a complex menu.
But the best bit about this car is the plug-in hybrid element which not only helps give this car great economy of more than 250 miles out of every gallon, but also very low emissions of 25 g/km which means low benefit-in-kind tax bills for company car drivers.
The official electric-only range is 39 miles but you’d be lucky to get more than about 30 miles on a full charge in everyday driving, although that depends how much start-stop you do which regenerates the battery.
Performance is impressive and while it’s not as quick off the mark as an all-electric car, getting up to 62 mph in just over nine seconds is perfectly satisfactory.
Charging is pretty simple and it’s designed to be done at home overnight on cheap rate electricity from a wallbox which should take around three-and-a-half hours or about six hours if plugged into a three-pin domestic socket.
I did quite a few miles and used up the electric charge quite quickly but even when the petrol engine did all the work, I still managed to get almost 50 mpg.
It drives well whether on electric or petrol power and there’s stacks of room for five full-size adults and all their luggage in the boot.
It has a small compartment under the floor to store the charging cables, although that wasn’t available in the test car as it came with a £150 mini spare wheel which took up the space.
CAR: Ford Kuga Black Package Edition 2.5 Duratec PHEV CVT Auto front wheel drive
PRICE: £39,855 (£44,255 as tested)
ENGINE: 2488cc Duratec 4 cyl petrol
CHARGE TIME: Wallbox 3.30 hrs Domestic socket 6 hrs.
POWER: 225 PS
TORQUE: 200 Nm
TOWING CAPACITY: 1500 kgs (braked)
PERFORMANCE: Top speed 125 mph. 0-62 mph 9.2 secs
ECONOMY: 256 mpg combined petrol/electric
CO2 EMISSIONS: 25 g/km combined