Ford Kuga long-term test: report 1

The latest Kuga has impressed us with its competitive pricing and tidy handling, but how will it fare as a photographer's assistant? We're finding out...

Ford Kuga rear

The car Ford Kuga 2.0 Ecoblue mHEV Titanium | Run by Max Edleston, junior photographer

Why it’s here The plug-in hybrid version of the latest Kuga has impressed us already, but how will this mild hybrid diesel variant fare as transport for someone who frequently covers a lot of miles?

Needs to Function as a mobile office, be reliable and sure-footed across any terrain, be comfortable for long trips

Mileage 6002 List price £29,045 Target Price £27,963 Price as tested £30,545 Test economy 50mpg Official economy 56.5mpg Options fitted  Driver Assistance Titanium Fird Edition Pack (£900)

8 March 2021 - Welcome to my new assistant

After living in the supersized world of the pick-up truck, I thought it best to bring myself back to earth with a more sensibly sized vehicle, but one that still had practicality at its core: a large SUV. After living with a vehicle that managed 30mpg at a push, I also fancied something that I didn’t have to fill three times a week.

And here it is; the Ford Kuga Titanium 2.0 EcoBlue mHEV. I feel it makes perfect sense for me, providing space for all of my camera equipment and powered by a highly economical mild hybrid engine; its official fuel economy figure is 56.5 MPG.

On paper at least, a mild hybrid is perfect for my lifestyle. I’m a big fan of electric cars, but covering the number of miles that I do (and making the sort of long-distance journeys that I do) makes owning one impossible at the moment (although, with continuous improvements in EV range and charging time and the UK’s charging infrastructure, that might change).

Ford Kuga 2021 interior dashboard

For the same reason, I didn’t fancy a plug-in hybrid, as these lose much of their efficiency once their batteries are drained. A mild hybrid, though, offers small amounts of electrical assistance to reduce the engine's workload, without needing to be plugged in. This, combined with the fuel economy inherent to a diesel engine, should suit my motoring routines quite nicely.

With regards standard equipment, I chose the Titanium trim level. It comes with all the key features I’m likely to need, including keyless entry, front and rear parking sensors and a heated front windscreen to help on cold days.

I couldn’t resist adding Ford’s Driver Assistance Pack from the options list, though, because it includes adaptive cruise control. I am very interested to see how well this works in conjunction with a manual gearbox. 

Having now made a few initial journeys, my first impressions are good. The Kuga is comfortable and quiet, and that's definitely appreciated after the agricultural ride of my L200. With the recent colder weather the heated front windscreen has been a huge time-saver in the morning, too, quickly defrosting any snow or ice on the car and allowing me to get on with my journey in record time.

I did, however, overlook that Titanium trim doesn’t come with heated seats as standard; at cooler times of the year these are very nice to have, and that would have been greatly appreciated whilst sitting waiting for both the air-con to heat up and the windscreen to clear.

Ford Kuga interior

Am I hitting my fuel economy ambitions yet, then? Well, no, but I am getting close to it; the readout shows 50mpg so far, and with a bit more understanding of the car’s gearbox and clutch I should easily match the official figures.

I am looking forward to exploring other elements of the Ford Kuga, too, particularly the tech that it offers, such as wireless charging for my mobile phone, and an upgraded Bang & Olufsen stereo system. 

As well as simply carrying me from one photographic location to the next, the Kuga will be my mobile office, too, helping me to stay in touch with colleagues when I’m out and about; the handy 12v power socket that I can use to keep my laptop charged will be much used. And, perhaps more than anything, it needs to be comfortable so I’m ready to start work at the end of a long journey. All this a tall order for any car, but is the Kuga up to the job? For the answer, stay tuned.

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