The Ford Kuga Flexifuel is the first hybrid vehicle to pass our Supertest test bench. And to better compare it, we tried it with the same protocol used for the Kuga PHEV. Now is the time to compare these two technologies.
Long interested in agricultural fuel, Ford has decided to offer this E85 engine again to its Kuga Flexifuel. This takes up the mechanical configuration already known in the Kuga FHEV, still available in the catalog with all-wheel drive, and coexists with the PHEV. This allowed us to draw up this assessment to compare the E85 to the rechargeable hybrid.
The advantages of running on E85 superethanol
Technical presentations of the Ford Kuga FHEV Flexifuel and PHEV
Bearing the same name as its counterpart, the Kuga Flexifuel has the same mechanics. It is composed of a 2.5 l petrol unit and an electric motor for a total of 190 hp and 200 Nm of torque. Electric traction is provided by a 1.1 kWh battery which operates independently depending on the available load and power requirements. On the WLTP bench, the set announces a consumption of 7.5 l/100 km for 125 g/km of CO2.
In the plug-in hybrid version, the thermal engine retains its power of 152 hp, but it is associated with a 131 hp electric motor (against 124 hp). The battery installed in the floor has a capacity of 14.4 kWh and is therefore rechargeable via the Type 2 port and a 3.7 kW on-board AC charger. Once full, it allows it to operate in 100% electric mode for 64 km (WLTP value). At the end of an obscure calculation, it appears before the administration with a consumption of 1.0 l/100 km and 22 g/km of CO2. Of course, this is impossible to achieve on a journey, whatever the scenario. But taking out the magnifying glass to read the eBrochure, Ford specifies that the PHEV displays an average of 6.5 l/100 km in charge maintenance mode (CS according to the WLTP standard).
Mixed route: more consumption with the Ford Kuga Flexifuel
These two vehicles therefore passed through our hands according to the same driving protocol on our mixed 100 km loop, with the city, road and motorway parts almost equidistant. Still, the Ford Kuga PHEV does not offer average fuel consumption, but several depending on the driving mode chosen. Thus, due to its hybrid operation very focused on the available battery charge, the plug-in hybrid SUV presented an average consumption of 4.0 l/100 km with the battery full at the start. In empty battery configuration, we recorded an average of 5.7 l/100 km, while consumption rose to 6.0 l/100 km in eSave mode, called here VE later.
With the Flexifuel version, you inevitably scratch your head less: you start the engine and you move forward. But, due to physical overconsumption and a weaker battery, the average here is higher with a final value of 6.2 l/100 km. This represents an overconsumption of the order of 8.77% compared to hybrid operation with empty battery. The difference is more marked with the full battery scenario, but it must be remembered that the Kuga is unbeatable since it was able to cover the entire road section without burning a drop of gasoline. Therefore, the final overconsumption of E85 is 55%.
|PHEV – full battery||0,0||8,0||4,1||4,0|
|PHEV – battery know||4,8||8,2||4,2||5,7|
|PHEV – eSave||4,7||8,9||4,2||6,0|
Taking into account the most reasonable consumption values, the E85 engine presented a difference of 6.38% on the highway, 6.1% on the highway and 17.07% in the city. And for good reason: the PHEV uses its electric motor more to help it dilute its fuel consumption. This is what we have been able to observe with the instructive electric motor usage counter.
Can we run on E85 without a case?
In pedestal operating mode (empty battery, therefore), the PHEV did not use its heat engine for 61.8% of the trip on the road, 12.12% on the highway and 69.7% in the city. The FHEV E85 does not demerit, but it is mechanically more limited: we measured ratios of 50% on the road, 6.1% on the highway and 57.58% in the city.
|PHEV – full battery||100 % (34 km)||9,1 % (3 km)||72,7 % (24 km)||61 % (61 km)|
|PHEV – battery know||61,8 % (21 km)||12,1 % (4 km)||69,7 % (23 km)||48 % (21 km)|
|PHEV – eSave||61,8 % (21 km)||12,1 % (4 km)||72,7 % (24 km)||49 % (49 km)|
|FHEV E85||50 % (17 km)||6,1 % (2 km)||57,6 % (19 km)||39 % (39 km)|
At start-up, the Kuga FHEV lights its candles at around 40 km/h, but it can climb up to 70 km/h with a feather underfoot. For its part, the PHEV can climb up to 100 km / h on the sole force of the electric motor, but it cuts its interventions around 50 km / h when the load is reduced. On the other hand, the Flexifuel version manages to recover more quickly from heavy stresses, as is the case on the motorway after two recoveries or during more marked relief. It is for this reason that he managed, despite less use of his electric assistance, to display lower consumption on the highway. Weight is always the enemy.
Long journey: strategic choices in plug-in hybrids
To make long journeys, the hybrid mode EV Now full battery of the Kuga plug-in hybrid did not really prove convincing: in 88 km of travel, it had consumed all the available charge, then leaving the vehicle to run on its battery buffer. Little useful.
On the other hand, we felt that the eSave function could be much more adequate. The strategy: force the system to use the battery to a minimum (it then recharges it when it has no choice but to consume kWh), to enjoy respectable autonomy once at destination. With 7.5 l/100 km on the highway and 7.0 l/100 km on the highway, we finished the trip with an average of 7.3 l/100 km. But by then activating the EV mode, we were able to complete 43 km with the remaining 68% charge (threshold that we had kept since the start). At the end of a journey of 493 km, therefore, the average was able to drop to 6.5 l/100 km on the dashboard.
On the side of the Ford Kuga Flexifuel E85, no strategy is to be adopted. He admitted on this same course an average of 7.4 l/100 km on the road and 8.3 l/100 km on the highway, for a total of 7.9 l/100 km.
|PHEV – eSave||7,5||7,0||7,3|
Cost of use: E85 is worth all the refills in the world
For these next calculations, we based ourselves on the prices we saw at the pump the day we tested the Ford Kuga Flexifuel, with 0.819 €/l of E85 ethanol and 1,852 €/l of SP95 -E10. We have retained a price of €0.1740/kWh for the price of electricity, excluding subscription (source Prix-elec.com).
Thus, the Kuga E85 represents an average cost of use of €5.08/100 km with its combined fuel consumption. On the highway, where it can aim for a range of 650 km with its 54 l tank, it climbs to 6.81 €/100 km. In any case, it does less than a Honda Jazz e:HEV, which is among the most fuel-efficient hybrids we’ve recently tested: with an average of 4.0 l/100 km according to our readings, it has a cost of direct use of €7.41/100 km.
The Plug-in Hybrid version is more difficult to measure, the driving modes being numerous. In empty battery operation or in eSave mode, costs of €10.56/100 km and €11.11/100 km respectively should be expected. In hybrid mode by default, having taken care to recharge the battery, it is necessary to count on a price of 7.41 € / 100 km, to which must be added the recharge consumed (2.51 € excluding losses) for a total of 9 €.91/100km. On the highway during a long journey, where the 45 l tank does not allow you to exceed 600 km, you can expect a cost of 13.89 €/100 km.
Actual consumption of plug-in hybrids: the results of our measurements
But the Ford Kuga PHEV has the advantage of operating in 100% electric mode for nearly 55 km with normal temperatures (54 km at 2°C during our winter test, 56 km during a more favorable test with Michael at flywheel), which the Flexifuel version cannot do. It is there, and only there, that he could regain his advantage over his counterpart.
Let’s avoid overly complicated details and focus on the consumption observed during the long-distance mixed trip. In this type of use, the E85 would represent a total price of €64.70/1,000 km (7.9 l/100 km), when it will take €135.20 for the PHEV (7.3 l/ 100km). To achieve the same result with the PHEV, you would then have to travel 221 km in hybrid mode (which would then amount to an average of 1.6 l/100 km) for a total of €29.88 and… 779 km in 100 mode. % electric (a total of €34.85 of home charging). With this operation, it will then be possible to aim for a cost of €64.70/1,000 km with the PHEV!
And if your goal is to obtain the WLTP consumption, know that you will have to roll up your sleeves to reach a value of 1.0 l/100 km. According to our calculations, it will be necessary to drive 86.3% of the total distance in EV mode. That is 863 km over 1,000 km based on combined long-distance fuel consumption. In short, for big wheelers who pay attention to fuel budgets, the Ford Kuga Flexifuel appears to be a very recommendable choice.