If ever a name was not befitting a car, this was probably the one.
Rather naively, perhaps, I do have an immediate expectation of a car when I first learn of its name. Think Jaguar, Porsche, Fiat, SKODA, SAAB, BMW as there is a natural association with the inherent qualities and characteristics of a brand. But Ford and their flagship SUV, the Kuga ST – Line X Edition 2.5 Duratec PHEV (Duratec is an aluminium engine as opposed to their Zetec Engines, made of iron, and PHEV being a Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle for the uninitiated), is all rather irritating from the off, especially the spelling.
I also know from the reviews that I have read since the test drive that this older sibling of the Ford Puma (I didn’t like that name either and there is a new Puma recently released) is a tremendously popular car, so I am going to have dig deep and do my very best at setting aside my personal bias.
From the really awkwardly designed seat belt clip (think worn knuckle duster – not that I have a lot of experience of these things I may add in case you were worrying that I live a nefarious lifestyle), surprisingly uncomfortable driving seat and lots of dials being very low down on the console and a fair way away from the Infotainment screen – it really does take your eyes off the road, so not a good start.
It had an irritating rattle from the off which transpired to be the clip-on luggage cover in the boot, which just fell off as you opened the boot. So, that got taken down pretty quickly, not least as it also did not entirely cover the interior, so a potential gift for prying eyes.
And the rather naff carbon fibre effect trim just could not cope with any decent volume on the B&O sound system, the reverb was pretty bad – all so disappointing and a waste of a great sound system. I didn’t want a car that literally shaked, rattled and rolled.
That all said, if you have a penchant for fancy Ascot hats and a wonderful afro hairstyle (or both even) there is
a vast amount of head space, which is pretty rare in many cars these days but just make sure you don’t get carried away and inadvertently trap either the hat or hairdo in not one but two of the power opening panoramic roof’s on a glorious day.
These irritations aside, the Kuga has great suspension, handles corners very comfortably and was surprisingly nippy about town, almost too nippy if I am honest as I needed to keep more of an eye than normal on the acceleration. Thank goodness for the very reactive brakes.
And the very best bit and to be fair to Ford, they can call their cars whatever they like as this really is a PHEV which is impressively reasonable to run in these worrying times of high inflation and reducing budgets. The charge times range from a wallbox / high power outlet of 3.5 hours to six hours for a domestic socket.
Depending on your lifestyle and how you drive of course, the combined technology in the Kuga can return around 200 mpg, and no range anxiety as when the electricity runs out, the engine takes over.
• Good turning circle
• Jet wash on reversing camera
• Pop out door protectors to save doors colliding with walls or other cars when opened and passengers not looking where they are going
• Spare tyre
• Wrong way alert
• Good leg and head room in front and back
• Decent boot space even if 15% smaller than other models due to the battery pack
• Plenty of charging points including a 3-point plug as well
• It is placed 19th out of the top 75 cars in reliability and safety checks
• It rattled from the moment I switched it on – it’s simply not good enough
• Rear wiper blade is very small, so only cleans part of the window
• The gears are a bit odd – you really have to put your foot down hard to engage them
• The exterior build quality
• Pretty nondescript design – it does not stand out as its name might apply from its rivals such as the Vauxhall Grandlander X
• Infotainment system is very basic but perfectly OK
• The B&O Sound system is wasted in this car and an unnecessary cost
• The rear windows do not wind right down and are an odd shape
Model tested: Kuga PHEV
ST-Line Engine: 2.5 Duratec
Speed: 0-62 9.2 seconds
Top: 124 mph
Economy: Up to 275 mpg
Price from: £28,755