By Mike Torpey on 2020-11-29 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Ford Kuga 2.5
FORD'S new generation Kuga is on the prowl to shake up the SUV scene with a model line-up that really puts the cat among the pigeons.
Not only is the car bigger and more spacious than before but it offers a selection of powertrains that boast efficiency some 28 per cent better than the outgoing range.
We're talking a really diverse engine line-up here, because it's far more than just your traditional petrol and diesel units.
Ford says the brand is committed to providing an electrified version of all its passenger vehicles and will have no less than 18 on sale in Europe by the end of next year.
And Kuga is the first to be offered with plug-in hybrid, mild hybrid and full hybrid technology.
Our PHEV - Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle - variant, in sporty ST-Line trim, is the most fuel efficient of the lot and combines a 2.5-litre petrol engine with an electric motor to produce a hefty 225PS of punch.
Yet despite the engine size and degree of power on tap the PHEV is still good for some pretty impressive fuel figures.
Leaving the Kuga to its own devices in hybrid automatic mode returned an average consumption of 52 miles per gallon over 300 miles of mixed urban, rural and motorway driving.
That's in addition to driving on battery power alone, accessed via an EV button on the centre console, giving 32 miles on a full charge - which takes three hours 20 minutes from a fast charger or five hours 20 minutes from a domestic supply.
Top speed in fully electric mode is 85mph, reached in near silence; otherwise 0-60mph can be completed in 9.2 seconds with a maximum of 124mph.
And a bonus for company car drivers is the CO2 emissions figure of 32g/km, representing a benefit-in-kind rating of just 12 per cent.
But it's not just the economy that impresses with this robust, stylish and comprehensively equipped SUV. It's also a first class vehicle to drive - smooth, well balanced and powerful, with a raised driving position and excellent visibility.
You also get five drive modes enabling drivers to adjust throttle response, steering weight and traction control as well as gearshift timing for automatic models.
So alongside Normal, Sport and Eco modes, the Slippery setting gives better grip on ice or snow and there's a Deep Snow/Sand mode for extra soft surfaces.
Interior space is impressive with ample head and leg room all round, while the second row seats slide up to 150mm creating more passenger or boot space as required.
Technologies include a wireless charging pad and Ford's SYNC 3 infotainment system along with new electrified vehicle features via the FordPass app and FordPass Connect modem.
There's also a smart 12.3-inch LCD instrument cluster, Stop & Go, Speed Sign Recognition and Lane Centring technologies plus a head-up display and Active Park Assist 2 for automated parking manoeuvres at the push of a button.
And ST-Line styling, inspired by Ford Performance models, includes body-coloured bumpers and side skirts plus grille, front skid plate, rear diffuser and roof rails finished in black. You also get a large rear spoiler, 18âinch alloy wheels and twin sports exhausts.
That's in addition to a dark interior headliner, ST-Line seat designs with red stitching, alloy pedals, flat-bottomed steering wheel, ST-Line floor mats and scuff plates.
Ford Kuga 2.5 ST-Line PHEV
Mechanical: 225ps, 2,498cc, 4cyl petrol engine plus electric motor driving front wheels via 6-speed automatic gearbox
Max Speed: 124mph
0-62mph: 9.2 seconds
Combined MPG: 44.7
Insurance Group: 20
C02 emissions: 32g/km
Bik rating: 12%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
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