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Ford Kuga engines, driving and performance

How does the Ford Kuga drive?

The absence of an ST-badged range-topper shows that the Kuga isn’t designed to be a performance car like a Cupra Ateca or the smaller Ford Puma ST. But, for a family SUV, it’s pretty good at going around corners. The steering feels alive and quick, making you part of the driving experience rather than isolating you from it.

The Kuga sits a bit higher off the ground than a Focus or Puma, so it rolls very slightly more through the corners. You’re not going to be feeling like you’re pressed up against the door handles, but the difference is slightly noticeable and the Kuga is marginally less agile than the Focus. Still, compared to its nearest rivals, the Kuga is much more able to keep keen drivers happy.

Is the Ford Kuga comfortable?

The Kuga’s sporty setup means that the ride is a little on the firm side, with broken road surfaces being slightly more noticeable than in a Hyundai Tucson or Volkswagen Tiguan. But we’d say it’s communicative rather than uncomfortable, because most bumps are stopped from being felt in the cabin.

If you can avoid the allure of the high-spec cars with large wheels, lower-spec cars with smaller wheels offer a more comfortable ride.

What’s the best Ford Kuga engine to get?

Short of a fully electric car, the Ford Kuga has you covered. There’s a petrol, several diesels, a hybrid and a plug-in hybrid, so there’s something whether you’re a motorway muncher or a city slicker.

One of the three diesel engines should suit you if you do a high annual mileage, or if you need to tow. There’s a 1.5-litre diesel with 120hp that’s not quick but capable of 60mpg, a 150hp mild-hybrid 2.0-litre engine that can manage up to 58mpg, and a four-wheel-drive 2.0-litre diesel with 190hp. It can achieve up to 50mpg and boasts the best towing capacity in the range at 2,100kg.

For lower-mileage drivers, the standard 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol should fit the bill. It’s reasonably economical, managing up to 43mpg, and is reasonably quick with a sub-10-second 0-62mph time.

Two hybrid models are available, and the choice comes down to whether you want to plug it in or not. Both have a 2.5-litre petrol engine and a CVT automatic gearbox, but the plug-in hybrid has a 14.4kWh battery – compared to 1.1kWh for the hybrid – and can drive for up to 35 miles on electric power alone. A Kuga PHEV can be fully recharged at a home wallbox in around three hours, or around double that if charging from a standard three-pin socket.

The CVT gearbox is supposed to be smooth and relaxed, but it can be a little slow to respond at times. That can then send the revs soaring when it finally wakes up, which fills the cabin with unwelcome engine noise. It doesn’t really play into the Kuga’s sporty feel, and just feels a bit dozy.

Ford Kuga performance

At one end of the range is the 120hp diesel engine, which gets from 0-62mph in around 12 seconds. The diesel’s low-down power does make the car feel quicker than that suggests, but you’ll still need to be a little patient or need lots of revs if you want to get up to speed quickly.

The four-wheel-drive 190hp diesel is the quickest-accelerating version, with the acceleration benchmark completed in 8.7 seconds. All other Kugas take between nine and 10 seconds to reach 62mph, so performance is respectable rather than rapid.

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