For an illustration of how effectively weight blunts performance, consider the fact that this plug-in hybrid Kuga takes more than nine seconds to reach 62mph whereas the Fiesta ST, which touts less than 200bhp but treads 582kg more lightly than its range-mate, takes barely more than six.
In this sense, the Kuga’s 222bhp combined output sounds more potent than it ever feels, although the car will still dispatch overtakes without hesitation. Note also that both the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid and Honda CR-V Hybrid accelerate more briskly, despite their status as more junior hybrids, without large battery packs or the ability to plug in to recharge.
None of which is to say the Kuga PHEV ever feels slow. From a standing start and from intermediate speeds, throttle response is pin sharp by the standards of the class and, with plenty of torque, the car is able to sustain its initial, electricity-aided burst of acceleration for more than just a second or two. Bouts of full throttle throw the CVT into sharp relief, the engine labouring audibly and monotonously while the gear ‘ratio’ adjusts to increase road speed but, for the most part, this hybrid powertrain is reasonably well mannered.
With an entirely flat drive battery, our test car also returned 44mpg at a cruise, and with the battery fully charged, the theoretical economy of a 75-mile motorway jaunt would be almost 90mpg.
More disappointing is the finesse, or lack thereof, with which the Kuga PHEV conducts itself in town driving. Step-off is far too abrupt, with the electric motor kicking into action enthusiastically and with an unexpected jolt. This is mirrored in the brakes, which lack progression when the moment comes to hand over from the regenerative element of the process to action from the discs and calipers.