When I turned up at Ford’s press garage to collect my new long-term Kuga plug-in hybrid, just a couple of weeks after the lockdown was lifted, I wasn’t convinced that it would fit my lifestyle. As a determined diesel man, it was somewhat of a culture shock. I perceived the 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine as a bit underpowered at 150bhp – the power that any mediocre 2.0-litre diesel engine would achieve – and I’ve never been a particular lover of CVT gearboxes. The 130bhp electric motor was surely a bonus, as was the 35-mile pure electric range, but I was far from convinced.
But I’m not too proud to say that I was wrong. The drive home around the M25 was great, and it gave me great pleasure to avoid using the combustion engine wherever possible. Would it be a faff plugging the car in at the end of each journey? Well in reality it wasn’t, as it became second nature to simply open the garage and connect the car up. And then six hours later I would get a message on my smartphone telling me that the car was fully recharged and that I could disconnect the charging cable. Totally painless and anyone could connect the car up to the mains. Even technophobes that usually shy away from anything vaguely modern and cutting edge would feel at home after the first or second attempt.
Our Kuga spends a lot of its time in an urban environment, usually shuffling around town, taking my nephew and his friends to school in the morning, and then collecting them in the afternoon. Being able to complete those journeys purely on electric means that, roughly speaking, it is costing us around half the cost of operating on petrol. We haven’t explored electric vehicle tariffs with our home electric provider and are still using the one that we were already on. It would have been something that we would explore at the annual renewal time, had the car not departed abruptly.
You will have read about a problem with a handful of Ford Kugas catching fire abroad, though there hasn’t been an incident in this country. As a precaution, Ford contacted all of its customers to ask them not to charge up the high voltage battery pack using the charging cable and to exclusively use the car in Auto-EV mode. Initial tests had indicated that this would be quite safe and would avoid the potential problem occurring. Now with anything that is technical, everything has to be extensively tested, and Ford has said that it is likely to be some time before a fix will be available to solve the self-combusting issue. Production of the PHEV models has stopped at Ford’s factory in Valencia in Spain, with just the petrol, diesel and mild hybrid diesel versions making their way out of the plant and to dealer forecourts. Customers that have ordered a Kuga PHEV won’t be able to take delivery until a fix is found, and those cars that have already been delivered are staying with customers, pending the future fix. An extended warranty and a fuel card worth £500 has so far been offered as a goodwill gesture to placate owners.
So with a vehicle that is basically operating as a 2.5-litre petrol engine, without the plug-in hybrid bit, Ford thought that it was best to swap our long-termer for something different, and you’ll be able to see what we will be running in next month’s issue.
Date arrived 12th June 2020
Fuel economy 201.8mpg (WLTPcombined) 59.2mpg (on test)
Total Mileage 2,203 Electric Mileage 1,204
I love how the Kuga PHEV slotted into our hectic lifestyle so easily.
Not being able to charge the Kuga PHEV means higher running costs, as domestic electricity costs roughly half the cost of petrol.