Now in its third-generation form, the popular Ford Kuga has finally discovered electrification. The range-topping plug-in hybrid version jumps straight into the upper echelons of this hybrid SUV chart for several reasons but none is more important than the car’s BIK-tax-defining, lab-test-certified electric range, which, at just in excess of 30 miles, will make it cheaper to run for a fleet driver than plenty of its rivals.
The Kuga follows up that advantage in familiar ways. It’s typically poised and sporty-feeling in its ride and handling, steering sweetly by class standards and maintaining good body control at all times, with a fairly taut but comfortable ride. The car’s 2.5-litre Atkinson-cycle petrol engine, combined with its electric motor, doesn’t give it commanding performance, with the car’s transmission appearing to sap some of what’s available. Even so, 0-62mph in less than 10sec is at least competitive for a car like this, and drivability is fine. Refinement is also surprisingly good.
Practicality is competitive for a compact SUV, and pricing for retail buyers is realistic. All up, as sensible and recommendable a Kuga as ever there was one.
One of Mercedes’ latest diesel-electric plug-in hybrids, the GLE 350de comes with a prohibitive-looking £65k price, but it’s worthy of the attention of well-heeled company car drivers thanks to its large drive battery and class-leading WLTP electric-only range of 61 miles. That will deliver more competitive monthly BIK costs than you might think.
The car impressed us when running in electric and hybrid modes, with good powertrain responsiveness and drivability and excellent refinement. Its 2.0-litre, four-cylinder ‘range-extending’ diesel engine struggles a little bit to motivate what is a heavy car when the battery’s flat; but with a real-world range that genuinely extends very close to the advertised claim, you might find that you don’t use the combustion engine too often.
Ride comfort and isolation are very good, showing less evidence of the added weight of the car’s electrified powertrain than its handling, which is a little bit soft and remote.