Ford Kuga Hybrid review: the diesel Kuga is no more – but this hybrid version is even better

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Diesel is dead. At least, it is at Ford; recently, it killed off the diesel engine options in the majority of its range and now the cull has reached the Kuga too, leaving the Focus as the only diesel Ford you can still buy in the UK. 

The replacement, in most cases, is the humble hybrid. And in the Kuga, arguably Ford’s most important model these days, you get the choice of two. The plug-in hybrid (PHEV) we’ve already tried – indeed, Andrew English will be along shortly with a long-term review of same – but it’s the new traditional, or full, hybrid (FHEV) model that’ll appeal most to private buyers who don’t happen to have a convenient place to plug in. 

This new Kuga, in short, is tasked with replacing the diesel version among people spending their own money to get behind the wheel. 

Pros

  • Good to drive
  • Sweet hybrid powertrain
  • Well equipped

Cons

  • Small boot
  • Firm-ish ride
  • Plasticky interior
  • Behind the numbers

Under the bonnet sits the same 2.5-litre petrol-based hybrid system we’ve already driven in the S-Max a couple of weeks ago. It drives the front wheels through a continuously variable transmission (CVT); indeed, a corollary of the diesel models’ axing is that you can no longer buy a four-wheel-drive Kuga, a fact which will reduce its appeal among caravan towers and countryside dwellers alike.

There are five models to choose from, but the entry-level Zetec and second-rung Titanium are only available with the petrol engine, meaning you have to look to the sporty-looking ST-Line if you want either of the hybrids. 

That means you need just over £35,000 to get yourself into a Kuga hybrid, whereas you can buy a lower-spec Toyota RAV4 which will gain you access to the hybrid mid-size SUV club for £31,000 or so, while a Hyundai Tucson can be had for £32,500. 

Both of these cars, it’s worth noting, come with considerably longer warranties, too; the Hyundai’s is five years, while the Toyota’s runs to a maximum of 10, both with a cap of 100,000 miles. Ford, by contrast, gives you just three years and 60,000 miles on the Kuga.

On fuel economy the Kuga is OK, but not outstanding; it betters most diesel rivals (as well as, crucially, the old 187bhp Kuga diesel), especially around town, but achieves similar figures to its hybrid competition; indeed, given these cars have more power, you could conclude the Kuga falls just a smidge behind.

At least it’s well equipped, though. You get 18-inch wheels, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry, a Bang & Olufsen sound system and a heated windscreen as standard on the ST-Line, while if you want to pay around £1,100 more you can upgrade to the ST-Line X we’re testing here, which also gets you an opening panoramic roof, heated front seats and a heated steering wheel, while adding 19-inch wheels. 

If it’s a luxury Kuga you desire, the Vignale is the one to have (although, weirdly, you lose the panoramic roof). You do gain leather upholstery, and faux leather on the dashboard and door trims, as well as softer suspension, but frankly that barely seems worth the £1,300 uplift. 

Interior appointments

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