This plug-in hybrid is arguably not the most representative derivative when your aim is to discover how well the Kuga handles in terms of the broader model range. However, we can only judge what is put before us and, though in this case the mass of battery pack is handily positioned low and well between the axles, the Kuga’s chassis undoubtedly takes a moment longer than we’d expect to settle after direction changes. There is also an unwelcome rigidity to the manner in which it absorbs poorer road surfaces, an issue likely to have been exacerbated by our test car’s ST-Line suspension.
This SUV finds some solace on the motorway, where it will cruise with impressive ease and detachment when its suspension has relatively little to think about, but there’s no doubt rougher roads often expose greater levels of both float and bump-thump than is typical of Ford.
Push on and you’ll then discover that neither does the fast-geared, somewhat elastic steering action that works so sweetly in the Focus translate especially effectively to the taller and heavier Kuga, whose more lumbering form can’t quite keep up. We’d also contend that the steering is too responsive off-centre, which can make it difficult to keep the car perfectly centre in its lane.
All that being said, the magnitude of these problems is slight. And even when driving this plug-in hybrid, it takes only three corners to discover that the third-generation Kuga shows traces of the neat, intuitive and quietly satisfying handling traits found in existing high-fliers of this class, such as the Mazda CX-5. Through third-gear corners, for example, our front-driven test car summoned a degree of balance and poise beyond most crossover-SUVs.
It’s just a shame, therefore, that the Kuga PHEV’s overall dynamic behaviour isn’t quite as well resolved and or finessed as it should have been, because underneath it all there would seem to be an SUV with ability somewhat above the class average.