Car review: Electrifying new Kuga from Ford

By Steve Berry

FOLLOWING Ford’s announcement last year that every Ford car from the new Focus onwards will include an electrified option, the all-new Kuga will become their first vehicle to be offered with plug-in hybrid, mild-hybrid and full-hybrid powertrain technology.

I expect a very popular choice will be the Kuga Plug-In Hybrid (PHEV) which delivers the driving range and freedom offered by a traditional combustion engine alongside the efficiency and refinement of an electric powertrain. 

The power-split system combines a 2.5-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine, electric motor and generator, and 14.4 kWh lithium-ion battery to produce an impressive 225 PS and a pure-electric driving range of around 35 miles with just 29 g/km CO2 emissions. Official economy figures are also impressive at 201mpg in PHEV operating mode and 43.5 mpg with no battery charge.

The battery can be charged using a front wing-mounted charging port and is automatically replenished on the move using regenerative charging technology that captures kinetic energy normally lost during braking. 

Drivers can choose when and how to deploy battery power using EV Auto, EV Now, EV Later and EV Charge modes. When the battery reaches its lowest state of charge, the Kuga automatically reverts to EV Auto mode – supplementing petrol engine power with electric motor assistance using recaptured energy for optimised fuel-efficiency. 

Don’t want to bother with the option of plugging in your hybrid Kuga? Then the Kuga Hybrid could be the answer. This uses a self-charging full-hybrid powertrain that enables pure-electric driving capability and combines a 2.5-litre petrol engine; electric motor; generator; lithium-ion battery; and a Ford-developed power-split automatic transmission. 

The Kuga Hybrid will be available later in 2020 with front-wheel drive and Ford Intelligent All-Wheel Drive, delivering from an anticipated 130 g/km CO2.

There are also mild-hybrid options for the new Kuga, including the Kuga EcoBlue Hybrid which enhances Ford’s 150 PS 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesel engine for even greater fuel-efficiency. The mild-hybrid technology employs a belt-driven integrated starter/generator that replaces the standard alternator, enabling recovery and storage of energy during vehicle decelerations, and charging a 48-volt lithium-ion air-cooled battery pack.

The system also acts as a motor, using the stored energy to provide electric assistance to the engine under normal driving and acceleration.

Whichever new Kuga you choose you’ll be getting a much improved and better-looking Kuga than before with even more comfort and driver assistance features, keeping customers better connected on the move.

Sophisticated technologies include a FordPass Connect embedded modem, wireless charging pad technologies, and Ford’s SYNC 3 infotainment system supported by an eight-inch central touchscreen. A premium B&O Sound System produces a high-quality audio experience, and a new 12.3-inch LCD instrument cluster with “true colour” that is more informative, intuitive and easier to read.

New Stop & Go, Speed Sign Recognition and Lane-Centring technologies help drivers negotiate stop-start traffic with greater confidence than ever before, while predictive curve light and sign-based light help drivers see more clearly in the dark. 

Head-up display technology helps drivers to keep their eyes on the road ahead and Active Park Assist 2 enables fully automated parking manoeuvres at the push of a button.

Stuart Rowley, president, Ford of Europe tells me “The all-new Kuga is our best example yet of Ford’s human-centric design approach; developed in close collaboration with SUV customers to deliver distinctive style, unprecedented powertrain choice, premium comfort and advanced technologies that make life easier for owners inside and outside of the car.”

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