As we steadily transition to electric cars, for many company cars drivers, a pure electric car just doesn’t cut the mustard. Drive East to West across the UK or travel long miles regularly & the time taken to stop & charge your electric car, even on super fast chargers, prohibits many.
The alternative then, is a Plug-In Hybrid, which offers the convenience of a petrol engine coupled to a usable battery range of around 30 miles. Add in the current government incentives from a tax perspective & a PHEV could be really good news for you or your employees.
Bearing this in mind, the latest PHEV to make it’s way to CC&V Towers was the Ford Kuga, which we drove for a week & which surprised us in good way.
We’ve always like the look of the Kuga, which combines a rugged SUV exterior with some nice finishing touches. We were testing the ST-Line, so factor in an ST-Line full body styling kit, red brake callipers, 18″ Rock metallic alloys & a large rear spoiler to pull off it’s aggressive look. High corner mounted front LED headlights finish the look.
Inside & equipment
The cabin is quite dark with plenty of black, including the headliner & pillars. The quality’s actually pretty good with some decent fabric & plastic used across the dash & throughout the interior. Highlights include Sensico sports seats & steering wheel with red stitching, privacy glass & alloy pedals. Equipment includes keyless entry, a 12.3″ digital instrument cluster, a B&O Premium audio system, Ford SYNC with 8″ colour touchscreen, App Link, Apple CarPay & Android Auto, plus SatNav.
There’s a useful wireless phone charging pad that works really well & a choice of driving modes to take on the urban & off-road in equal measure. The rotary gear selector makes gear changes simple & the connection to hands-free AppleCar Play was seamless.
One criticism is that there’s only two USB connections in the front, normal & a ‘C’, with just a 3-point plug connector in the back, no USB’s at all. So take your 3-pin charging plug just in case.
The plug-in is almost as practical as other Kugas, offering 575 litres of luggage space, which is only 70 litres less than these. Fold down the rear 60:40 seats & this goes up to 1481 litres.
For passengers, there’s plenty of room in the front & those seated in the rear won’t want for head or legroom either. The rear seats move back & forth, so you can increase the rear legroom or increase the boot space as desired.
Cabin storage includes a large glove box, two centre cup holders, under armrest storage, decent door pockets & a fold out armrest in the rear with two hidden cup holders. You also get a bag for your charging cable which can be attached to the boot carpet to prevent it from sliding around.
Hybrid & EV driving modes
The Kuga comes equipped with four EV modes. Default EV mode switches between the electric motor & petrol engine, depending on the available battery charge. The Battery Charge setting offering the driver the option to charge the battery using the petrol engine. Useful to utilise on the motorway.
EV Now mode is great in the city, allowing electric-only usage until the battery is almost depleted. We drove in And finally, EV Later mode. We drove 180 motorway miles to the edge of London in full hybrid mode, then switched from EV Later to EV mode as the traffic slowed & used half of our full electric range getting from Heathrow Airport to Clapham.
Another advantage of the Kuga PHEV, is that you can also select the level of regenerative braking, which can be increased using the ‘L’ transmission shift position, allowing one-pedal driving.
You also get a further set of driving options; Normal, Eco, Slippery, Sport & Deep Snow/Sand. Eco was our preferred option, as it save’s you fuel.
Ford claims a WLTP operating mode of 201.8 MPG, which of course is nigh on impossible to hit. More realistic is the claimed high fuel consumption of 47.1 MPG. We drove a total of 427 miles in the Kuga, 126 of which were pure electric miles, spending 10.5 hours behind the wheel & averaged 49.4 MPG. This was with four adults & a full complement of luggage on board. To my mind very impressive.
The Plug-in Kuga’s low CO2 emissions give company car drivers a real Benefit in Kind tax incentive, with the current rate of 11%, increasing by 1% next year. Compare this to a diesel Kuga, where the BIK is 36% & you’ll be making a substantial saving.
A 7.2kW wall box such as our Rolec home charger, refills the Ford’s 14.4kWh lithium-ion battery in approximately 3 hours 40 minutes. Plugging in at a 50kW public rapid charge point refills the battery to 80% in 30 minutes.
All Kugas come with an embedded modem & the FordPass smartphone app gives access to charging point locations, remote pre-conditioning, as well as notifications of the PHEV’s battery charge level.
Try to charge at home if you can, where night time charging, costs from just 5p a kWh, whereas public fast chargers, typically cost over a 20p a kWh. And if you want to use a public charge point, you’ll need to specify the relevant cable from Ford at a cost of £195.
The plug-in is heavier than the diesel version but it still drives well. Sharp steering, comfy ride & little body roll are a bonus. However, that CVT gearbox leads to the usual whining noise when you push down hard on the accelerator as the revs start to rise. Having said that, in cruise control mode & at motorway speeds it’s a very comfortable & relaxing car to be in.
Looks good, practical, surprisingly agile & if plugged in regularly, 50 mpg is achievable including motorway driving. Low entry price & low BIK too.
Very few. CVT gearbox isn’t the best, Ford’s SYNC radio still annoys, that’s about it.
If you need a large SUV to take you 400 miles on one tank of fuel, with decent handling, that’s also practical, then look no further. If you can plug-in regularly at home, the Kuga PHEV will reward you, with we reckon a 30 mile pure EV range & an easily achievable 50MPG on the combined cycle. Add in the 11% BIK & the Kuga PHEV is an excellent proposition for company car drivers.
Model: Ford Kuga ST-Line 2.5 Duratec PHEV
As tested; £39,655.
Engine: 2.5-litre 4 cylinder petrol PHEV/14.4kWh lithium-ion battery
Transmission: Single-speed CVT automatic, front-wheel drive
Power: 225 PS
0-62mph: 9.2 seconds
Top speed: 125mph
Economy: Combined 201.8MPG/High Fuel Consumption 47.1 MPG