Parkers overall rating: 3.8 out of 5 3.8
  • Improved touchscreen is welcome…
  • … as are excellent digital instruments
  • Still quite button-heavy

How is the quality and layout?

By and large, the Kuga’s interior feels very much like that of the Ford Focus, albeit with more headroom. The dashboard is nearly identical in look, feel and trim finishing. That’s not bad, and it means the controls are all in sensible places and quality is more than acceptable, though there’s no denying the all-black materials are a little depressing.

Most of the Kuga’s buttons make perfect sense – a particular shout-out to the physical knobs and switches on the climate control panel here.

There are some areas we find unnecessarily fiddly, though. The steering wheel, for example, has no less than 15 buttons on it – some of which are uncomfortably small to press for fat fingers. Some of these functions could be replaced by a clickable roller switch, for example, while the button for the different drive modes makes you cycle through the whole range rather than simply picking the one you want.

Infotainment and tech

The standalone tablet-like 8.0-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system looks a little tacked onto the top of the dash, but it’s sharp, clear and with a much deeper colour contrast than the equivalent Focus. It’s also nicely responsive to your touch.

It runs Ford’s Sync3 infotainment software – that’s not the latest version, and as a result it does look a little simplistic in places. But it’s easy to use with big, easy-to-hit onscreen buttons and an interface that largely makes sense and doesn’t bury functions away in menus.

It also comes as standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto so you can simply use your phone to bypass the software and run your own navigation and music.

One of the Kuga’s options is a 12.3-inch fully digital instrument panel, standard on ST-Line models onwards. It’s also high resolution, making the configurable dials look very sharp and classy – they feel a step forward compared with what you’ll find in a contemporary BMW product, for instance.

Is it comfortable?

  • Plenty of space front and rear
  • Firmer ride on ST-Line versions
  • No adaptive suspension option here 

With alloy wheel sizes ranging from 17 to 20 inches in diameter and no available option for adaptive suspension, it doesn’t read on paper that the Kuga’s going to be especially comfy, but things are pleasingly good on the whole.

There’s a substantial amount of tyre sidewall, for starters, which helps absorb much of the sharpness out of rough road surfaces, and – in traditional Ford manner – damping is well controlled, too, despite not being adjustable.

Overall, this allows the Kuga to remain composed and relatively flat through corners, but rarely giving a sense of floatiness that might make some occupants feel unwell. You can thank its sophisticated suspension set-up for that, a feature that most Focuses don’t share.

ST-Line models have lower, stiffer sports suspension. By and large it’s fine, dealing with initial bumps well, but minor road imperfections are frequently transmitted to occupants posteriors a bit too readily, albeit without harshness.

All Kugas feature darkened rear privacy glass for both security and to keep the back portion of the car that bit cooler and glare-free in summer.

Still, there’s little wind noise intrusion, nor much tyre roar – although these are both more acutely observed when the PHEV Kuga is driven in electric mode as there’s no engine note to counter the sound.