Ford Kuga Plug-In Hybrid engines, drive & performance

The latest Ford Kuga has gone back to the model's roots, taking its place as one of the best-handling SUVs you can buy

Ford Kuga Plug-In Hybrid
0-62mph Top speed Driven wheels Power
9.2 seconds 125mph Front 222bhp

By injecting it with some of the original Kuga’s dynamic appeal, Ford has given this latest incarnation a good chance of reclaiming its crown as one of the sharpest-to-drive SUVs on sale. While that’s unlikely to be a major consideration for many people buying one, it’s nice to know that if the mood dictates, there’s a degree of fun to be had. 

Ford Kuga Plug-In Hybrid 0-62mph, top speed and acceleration

The Ford Kuga’s headline 0-62mph performance figure is somewhat deceptive. With 222bhp on tap, you’d expect this SUV to accelerate with purpose and aggression, but that’s not the case. This is quite a heavy car, and as such, it’s perhaps not as fast as you might expect.

The 0-62mph dash takes 9.2 seconds, and while that isn’t slow by any means, it’s far from class-leading. It’s marginally faster than the mild-hybrid Kuga EcoBlue diesel, but that car’s pleasing slug of torque means it feels a bit quicker day-to-day. The similarly powerful (non-plug-in) Toyota RAV4 hybrid completes the same benchmark sprint in 8.4 seconds, while the MINI Countryman hybrid is faster still: 6.8 seconds is all it takes to hit 62mph from rest.

The Kuga plug-in’s 125mph top speed isn’t all that relevant for UK buyers. More important is the car’s ability to hit 85mph on electric power. Maintain this for a while, however, and you’ll quickly run the batteries to empty. Needless to say, this is not the most efficient way to run a Kuga Plug-In Hybrid.

Handling

The latest Ford Kuga feels just as grown-up as the last model, but thankfully the engineers appear to have injected a bit of that familiar Ford fun into the recipe once again. It’s hard to ignore the fact that the Kuga is now one of the sweetest-handling cars in its class.

Body control is excellent, the chassis feels well sorted and there’s very little roll from side to side through fast changes of direction. The ride is firm, but the Kuga never crashes over bumps or potholes – certainly not on our test car’s 18-inch wheels, anyway. We’d think twice about going for the larger 19-inch rims available elsewhere in the range, but as tested, this Kuga strikes a really nice balance between ride and handling.

We like the steering, too. While it doesn’t brim with feedback, there’s enough going on for you to feel confident with where the car is heading. Despite being front-wheel-drive only (the MINI Countryman hybrid is four-wheel drive), grip from the Kuga plug-in is also very good. The only thing letting it down is the gearbox, which with the petrol engine running isn’t as responsive as we might like.

In some ways, it feels like Ford has tried to deliver too much with the Kuga Plug-In Hybrid. Ultimately, you’ll buy one because you want to reduce running costs – not because it’ll challenge a Porsche 911 through the corners. The fact that it's quite good fun to drive should be seen as a happy coincidence, rather than a true purchase driver.