Parkers overall rating: 4.4 out of 5 4.4
  • Improved touchscreen is welcome
  • As are excellent digital instruments
  • Some aspects still too button-heavy

By and large, the Mk3 Kuga’s interior feels very like that of the Focus, albeit with more headroom. Take the dashboard, for instance – they’re essentially identical in look, feel and trim finishing, albeit with a couple of changes that improve things.

First, that standalone tablet-like 8.0-inch touchscreen for the multimedia system running Ford’s Sync 3 package is of a much sharper resolution, with a deeper colour contrast. It’s especially noticeable if you use Android Auto or Apple CarPlay as the screen looks much more like the one on your phone.

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.

Some unnecessary fiddliness

While much of the Kuga’s interior makes sense and is easy to use – a particular shout-out to the physical knobs and buttons on the climate control panel here – other aspects seem a tad overwrought.

Chief culprit among these is the steering wheel with no less than 15 buttons on it on the version we drove – it feels too much, especially when several of them could be replaced by a clickable roller switch, while the button for the different drive modes makes you cycle through the whole range rather than simply picking the one you want.

Still, there’s far more that’s positive than annoying – just a pity it all lacks much flair, plus it’s with everything finished in black.

Is the Kuga 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.

Space to relax in

In many regards, the Kuga feels exactly what it is – a taller, roomier Focus, so five occupants are unlikely to have much to complain about given the adjustability of front and rear seats.

It’s just a pity that it’s so unyieldingly black inside the Kuga, with no variation of trim and upholstery colour save for the scarlet stitching on the ST-Line models. It’s all a bit gloomy, and although a glazed roof is available, it’s only standard fit on the ST-Line X.

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.