It looks the part, drives well and offers a combination of refinement and practicality.

The Ford Kuga plug-in hybrid has a useable electric range and is probably at its best when running in pure-EV mode.

Under the bonnet, there’s a sizeable 2.5-litre petrol engine, but it doesn't need to work too hard as it's backed up by a potent electric motor and 14.4kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which greatly enhance fuel economy.

With 225PS at its disposal, the PHEV is the most powerful Kuga in the range, although the extra weight from the large battery pack means its acceleration isn’t blistering, coming in at 9.2 seconds for the sprint from 0-62mph.

With its battery fully charged, it can theoretically travel for up to 35 miles on electric power alone – although I found it to be in the 25-30 mile bracket in real world driving conditions.

Banbury Cake: The Ford Kuga Phev pictured in West Yorkshire surroundings

That’s enough to cover a high percentage of daily commutes in England - making it a viable and economical option.

If you’re plugging in at night after commuting this sort of distance, you genuinely needn’t use any fuel.

When travelling further, you can choose to leave the car in hybrid mode, at which point the computers will work out the appropriate power source for the prevailing conditions. In this mode, I was impressed by the smooth and quiet way it flits between electric and convention power.

For a bit more of a dynamic drive, you can click onto sport mode to secure maximum performance from a combination of the petrol and electric motors.

The CVT (continuously variable transmission) isn’t the most responsive, but this form of transmission does help to achieve maximum efficiency.

Banbury Cake: The Ford Kuga Phev next to the restored Grade II-listed New Hall, Rooley Lane, Bradford

One of the best things about the Kuga PHEV, as with many Fords, is its sharp handling, even though it's only available in front wheel drive.

The steering is quick and accurate, while the vehicle feels well-planted in the corners, with little by way of body lean or roll to be aware of.

However, if you drive with urgency for too long, you’ll soon need to recharge.

It takes around three and a half hours to charge the battery pack using a home wallbox supply, but the Kuga doesn’t support fast charging, so it’ll be petrol all the way on longer journeys once the initial charge runs out.

In terms of looks, it's a stylish SUV. The previous Kuga's sharp creases have given way to smoothly curved concave panels on the side.

A wide performance-style Ford grille, surrounded by some more aggressive trim on this dominates the front end, while the twin tailpipes and spoiler give the rear a sporty appearance.

Banbury Cake: The Ford Kuga Phev pictured in West Yorkshire surroundings

From some angles, it looks like a taller and more muscular version of the Focus, which is itself a good-looking vehicle.

The interior is well-presented and knocking on the door of premium, with everything within easy reach and view of the driver.

There’s some smart detailing and plush materials to be found high up on the doors and dash, although you’ll still find some scratchy plastics if you look lower down.

Red stitching on the seats, chunky soft-touch steering wheel and armrests adds a dash of colour to an interior that would otherwise seem rather grey.

Banbury Cake: The Ford Kuga Phev pictured in West Yorkshire surroundings

The touchscreen sits in a lofty position on top of air conditioning vents, and controls such functions as the audio, phone connectivity and navigation.

For those who’d rather adjust the audio the old way, there are dials and bottoms below the screen to change the volume or to re-tune.

A large panoramic sunroof floods the cabin with light and, as a £995 option, is worthy of consideration when investing in a Kuga.

Banbury Cake: The Ford Kuga Phev pictured in West Yorkshire surroundings

Space-wise, front seat occupants can spread out as much as they’re ever likely to need to, while space on the rear bench hasn't been reduced by battery placement. The boot isn't the biggest, but capacity can be increased by sliding the read seats forward.

A circular dial down to the driver’s left allows you to select park, reverse, neutral or drive, while a line of nearby buttons let you select drive mode, which includes normal, eco, sport and functions for more wintry conditions.

In conclusion, the Blue Oval has come up with a real gem that must rank among the best hybrid SUVs on the market.

The Lowdown

Ford Kuga PHEV ST-line Edition 5dr

ENGINE: 2.5-litre petrol, 225 PS

TRANSMISSION: Automatic, front wheel drive

LIST PRICE: £36,555

ACCELERATION: 0-62mph in 9.2 seconds

TOP SPEED: 124mph

ECONOMY: 201.8mpg combined