The new Ford Kuga PHEV on test for Changing Lanes!
The new Ford Kuga PHEV on test for Changing Lanes!

Caroline drives the 2021 Ford Kuga PHEV!

The Ford Kuga has been a popular SUV on sale in Ireland since it was first marketed here well over 10 years ago.

Over the years it has evolved in styling and design, and in 2020 the brand launched a new Kuga here with hybrid technology on board for the first time!

Hybrid is rapidly becoming a real viable option for customers in the family SUV segment, and we have seen an explosion in the number of hybrid SUVs coming to market in Ireland in the last 12 months.

What’s new for the Ford Kuga in 2021?

The Ford Kuga range now offers buyers a lot of choice, from trim line to powertrain. The all-new Kuga is the first Ford vehicle to be offered with plug-in hybrid, mild hybrid, and full hybrid powertrain technology.

The brand also fits the Kuga with 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesel engines, and the 1.5‑litre EcoBoost petrol engine. Transmissions include a six-speed manual and new eight-speed automatic.

The Ford Kuga plug-in hybrid range starts from €40,691 in Ireland
The Ford Kuga plug-in hybrid range starts from €40,691 in Ireland

At Changing Lanes, we have already sampled the Ford Kuga diesel, but now it’s the turn of the Ford Kuga plug-in hybrid!

To recap on pricing, the Kuga range kicks off from €35,036 for a Kuga diesel, with the plug-in hybrid range starting from €40,691.

Ford has updated the styling of the Kuga considerably for this new generation of the car. It’s now a much sleeker and fancier looking SUV! Lean and athletic, the ST Line and ST Line X models look the best in our opinion with red painted brake calipers, ST Line bodystyling, and 18” alloy wheels.

Inside the 2021 Ford Kuga

The interior has also been completely redesigned, inspired by the simple, horizontal design we have come to expect from new generation Ford cars. It’s modern and easy to interact with but not the most sophisticated offering in the segment, with more hard plastic finishes than what we would like. But the Kuga ST Line is brightened up with some red stitching, nice seats, and alloy pedals. There’s a new infotainment system that syncs easily to smartphones and Ford’s impressive 12.3-inch LCD instrument cluster.

The Ford Kuga does score highly on interior space with a large and practical cabin that families will love. The Ford Kuga model is 44 mm wider and 89 mm longer than the outgoing model, with more shoulder room, hip room, and headroom inside for front and rear seat passengers. It certainly feels it.

The second row of seats can be moved backwards to improve legroom or forwards to increase boot space, to a maximum of 645 litres. A handsfree tailgate is also available. Rear footwells are large and sitting three across the rear bench should not be a problem.

Inside the new Ford Kuga
Inside the new Ford Kuga

Driving the Ford Kuga Hybrid

The Kuga PHEV uses a 2.5-litre petrol electric plug-in hybrid powertrain and retails in Ireland from €40,691. It is the most powerful of the range with 225 hp. Emissions are rated at just 32 g CO2 per kilometre. It’s also ideal if you can charge the car after each journey and make use of the option to drive up to 56 km on battery power alone. Yet over a few days driving without charging up, we still managed to return a good 5.9 litres per 100 km.

The Ford Kuga is one of the sportier SUVs to drive and even as a plug-in hybrid it handles the road well, though we think the diesel model feels a bit more athletic. However, the extra power and responsiveness and smoothness of the automatic transmission is apparent in the way the plug-in hybrid handles the road. The longer wheelbase creates a larger footprint on the road and improves ride and stability. The plug-in hybrid ST Line model on test did feel more firm over rough and uneven road surfaces.

Kuga also offers for the first time selectable Drive Mode technology. Each mode adjusts throttle response, steering weight and traction control and gearshift timings for automatic models. Modes for Kuga include Normal, Sport, Eco, Slippery and Deep Snow/Sand.

The Ford Kuga has an impressive range of engine options
The Ford Kuga has an impressive range of engine options

Did you like it?

The Kuga truly excels as a family vehicle with a large and comfortable interior, and plenty of boot space. Interior quality feels a little cheap in places considering the list price of the car, especially on more expensive plug-in hybrid models.

But on the road the Kuga performs well, with the plug-in hybrid adding a more powerful, responsive feel.

Ford is getting its act together, bringing its most popular models to market now with electrified powertrains. Hot on the heels of the exciting new Ford Puma, the Ford Kuga is a perennial Irish favourite now with hybrid power and an impressive range of engine options. The plug-in hybrid proves to be an efficient alternative with loads of power and good economy.

The Kuga is still great for families with a spacious and practical interior
The Kuga is still great for families with a spacious and practical interior

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Ford Kuga PHEV ST Line-X PHEV
2.5-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 225 hp
Top speed: 201 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 9.2 seconds
CO2 emissions: 
32 g/km
Motor Tax: 
€140 per year