REVIEW: Ford Kuga ST-Line X PHEV

Ford launched their plug-in version of their Kuga last year, but there were problems with the battery and the cars were recalled.

There were reports of the PHEV models catching fire. The problem was eventually narrowed down to a discrepancy in the manufacturing process of the SUV’s battery packs, which may have introduced foreign contaminants into the cells during assembly.

Not a great start when launching a new car, but recalls in the motoring business are not unusual. Last week I got to drive the plug-in version of the third generation Kuga and it certainly was worth the wait.

Straight away I was impressed with the heads-up display over the steering wheel directly in my line of vision. It gives you the speed limit on the road/street you are driving on plus your own speed. I think if this service was provided in every cars drivers would have less penalty points.

This  new version of the Kuga is a beautiful motor and it came in a most attractive colour. Lucid Red was the official colour and I remember a car salesman telling me some years back that red was the best colour to own when you are thinking of trading in.

We are waiting for Ford’s first fully electric car which will be a Mustang-branded version due later this year. For now hybrid is the best option available from the company with the famous blue oval logo.

Ford say that the Kuga offers the most electrified powertrain options of any Ford car, improving efficiency by up to almost 30 per cent. I wouldn’t disagree with that. If you have the time and patience you can re-charge the car and get up to 50km in fully electric mode.

The battery can also be replenished on the move using regenerative charging technology that captures kinetic energy normally lost during braking. However, you don’t get many kilometres up on your ‘bonus chart’ that way.

The new car is 44mm wider, 89mm longer with a 20mm wheelbase increase. Small figures of course, but it should mean more shoulder, hip and headroom for all passengers.

The interior is predominantly black, but my ST-Line version had a touch of red stitching on the seats and doors which brightened the décor just a little.

Also the sliding second row seats means you can get up to 645 litres boot space, if you need to carry any heavy loads. With that all technology located in the boot, no surprise that there is no spare wheel was provided

Every time I show a new car to a friend, he checks out the tyres. Last week he was impressed with the Continental 226/60 R18 tyres that were fitted to the Kuga. The plug-is version was powered by a 2.5-litre petrol engine and it’s also available in a 1.5-litre diesel.

All family members, who availed of a lift were impressed with the Kuga. I really liked the comfortable drive and high-driving position.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the Kuga picks up a prize when the Continental Car of the Year awards are presented in November. Hopefully the awards will go ahead, provided there are no Covid issues between now and then.

Prices start at €33,450 for the Titanium version of the new Kuga, while the ST-Line X version that I drove starts at €44,863. A 5k grant is available.