14 MARCH 2022
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Once upon a time Ford dominated the British domestic car market with major production units at Dagenham and Hailwood. Those times are long gone. Ford retreated to mainland Europe for its right-hand drive cars. Maybe the product was wrong “Mondeo Man” a relic from the past. Motoring journalists were abandoned with even members of the Guild banned from road testing cars once they reached 70 mph.
Thankfully things have changed and with a fine range, and real quality, today’s Ford cars can match anything that is emerging from the Far East and Europe. One could say they have been electrified. And ‘senior’ writers, such as BTN’s Editor-in-Chief, can review the products with a road test.
The SMMT open day at Oakley Hall provided an eye-opener on an interesting product range and the offer of a loan Kuga. An all-electric Mach-E is promised for the future but there is a long waiting list. See BTN 11 October 2021 MOTORING: SMMT at Oakley Hall, Hampshire.
The Kuga Plug-In Hybrid was the best-selling PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) of any brand across all European markets in 2021 and outsold its nearest segment rival by more than 17%. Sales of plug-in hybrid and all-electric vehicles accounted for 19% of all new vehicles traded in 2021, compared to 21.7% for diesel-engine vehicles, and more than half of all Kugas sold in 2021 were plug-in hybrid or full hybrid. Ford says that Kuga drivers potentially each saved in one year the equivalent CO2 emissions of a return trip from London to Buenos Aires.
“Not every customer is in a position to jump straight from petrol or diesel to a fully electric vehicle. That’s why we designed our Kuga Plug-In Hybrid to offer the best of both worlds, and selling more than any other PHEV in Europe suggests we have the recipe just right,”, said Glen Goold, Ford Kuga Vehicle Line Director. “Ford is committed to an electrified future, and cars like the Kuga Plug-In Hybrid are helping customers take that step with us”.
The art of driving is changing too. When your reviewer first took to the wheel he was told not the use the brakes coming down hills for instance, the then drum devices expensive to replace, and with inadequate tyres skidding a real possibility. Use the gearbox one was told. Not so today. Two pedal foot controls, wonderful disc brakes and superb tyres mean that self-charging cars are energised by using one’s feet on a descent (and I drive two-footed).
My regular grumble with a week’s loan is that the time is too short to learn one’s way around any modern car. If you are actually purchasing one your salesman will (normally) ensure a proper handover and briefing with the product. These days it is no longer just a finger pointed to where the key goes in, and “it’s over there” for the reverse. On the Kuga I counted 20 (at least) control functions, from a driver’s impairment monitor (whatever that is), to the bleeper (excellent) for lane keeping. But I had to find out for myself.
First impressions count. Entry is keyless, the power start button easy to find, and the 'twist' central control rotary dial very slick with various settings.
From the outside the car does look very smart with 19inch machined finished alloy wheels, red brake callipers and stylised black roof rails covering the power operated sunshine roof. The front when drive SUV sits up higher than normal saloons without appearing to tower over its contemporaries.
With a 0-60 of 9.2 seconds the test Kuga, a 2.5 Duratec model was never going to win a traffic light grand prix, but at 70mph on the motorway in cruise control mode it is effortless motoring at over 50mpg, a real plus in these expensive petrol days.
When it comes to progress on our increasingly poor road infrastructure the damping is excellent and after a while it becomes easy to judge just what speed one can progress over the bumps without upsetting the well snuggled passengers including up to three very comfortable in the back. As for handling, whilst not a sports car, I judge it to have plenty agility and poise, perhaps even entertaining.
The Kuga comes with a whole host of what used to be ad-ons. These include front and rear heated seats and heated steering wheel. Privacy glass as well and heated and powered folding mirrors with puddle lights. There is a hands-free power tailgate, the button quite high for those of a short stature. The flexible rear seating slides forward or backward to suit your needs, increasing the rear storage capacity by 67 litres when folded so you’ll have no trouble packing anything in. With front and rear cameras the parking sensors are a bonus, and no excuse for bumps at either end!
With the test car the Chrome Blue paintwork (£600) was an extra, likewise the very useful charging pad for a suitably equipped mobile phone (£150). What is termed the ‘Driver's Assistance Pack’ is also charged (£1,100) including a front camera, Adaptive Cruise Control with Traffic Sign Recognition, Blind Spot Information System (BLIS), Intelligent Speed Assist (ISA), the already mentioned driver's impairment monitor, Active Park Assist (great fun once you understand how it works). The ‘Technology Pack’ (£550) has LED glare-free headlights and my one real criticism of the car, a poor ‘Head Up Display’ shown very low in front of the driver. Stay with the excellent sat nav.
Ford have decided to do away with the traditional information handbook and rely on an App. A big mistake when you are trying to find the fuel release button. Please supply Mr Ford.
The on-the-road price is £38,000 but the extras make the final total as tested £40,500. See your local dealer for a discount, or take it on a lease. There are plenty of Kuga variants starting from £23,000.
Ride and Comfort 7
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