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Kia top the EV tree
ELECTRIC cars - love them or loathe them - are becoming a much more familiar sight on the road and while it’s fair to say the UK’s charging infrastructure is perhaps letting the side down, manufacturers deserve no end of praise for their EV creations.
While electric versions of regular cars are ten a penny now, there aren’t many which have been designed and built up from the ground as a sole EV.
...
Limited-run Type R is an all-time great
IF I picked the perfect ingredients for a countryside drive the car would - 100 times out of 100 - be a hot hatch. Their uncanny knack of fitting tight, twisty roads like a glove mean you’re not worrying about grazing an eye-wateringly expensive, low-slung carbon splitter and you can instead concentrate on why the car of choice was created: the thrill of driving something built purely for enthusiasts.
There’s been many stand-out, pumped-up...
Fifth-generation Discovery is the perfect family car
AT long last, I have found the dream family car. It costs a fair chunk, but if you can, you absolutely should because it has no drawbacks whatsoever.
A rare beast indeed but it’s one that combines decent pace, good fuel economy, space, looks and luxury - it’s the brilliant Land Rover Discovery in D300 guise.
That name’s been an ever-present fixture in the line-up since 1989 - that’s a year before I...
New Cupra is one of the best
THERE’S something about hot hatches and how they fit the UK’s roads like a glove - nothing attacks a snaking, challenging piece of countryside asphalt like a pumped-up version of a hatchback.
In truth there are many options if you’ve £30,000 or so to spend on one: Civic Type-Rs, Focus STs and i30Ns immediately spring to mind, but the Cupra Leon in its 300bhp spec perhaps intrigues even more as it’s still a rare sight....
All-new Defender is a worthy successor
I’LL be honest - I never really ‘got’ the obsession with Land Rover Defenders until a few years ago. Sure, I appreciated their coolness - chiefly because they’ve effectively stayed the same for decades - but to drive they were woeful so I wasn’t really a fan.
As time’s gone on, I’ve come around massively, mainly due to the simply gorgeous, last-of-the-line Heritage Edition which signalled the end of its frankly incredible 67-year...
Jimny LCV is an instant icon
I’VE been excited about quite a few cars arriving for me to test - Porsches, RS-badged Audis, six-figure SUVs, you name it - but I don’t mind admitting Suzuki’s Jimny was arguably the one I was most looking forward to driving.
Stop laughing over there - it’s true. I’m absolutely not joking and if I tell you that there’s been long waiting lists in the UK for a new one, that should tell you...
Revised NX350h continues Lexus' form
SEVERAL years ago, I often struggled to get my head around people who opted for SUVs instead of a better-driving estate but as my age advances, it isn’t hard to see why they do.
There are two causal factors for that admittedly almighty U-turn: four-year-old Arthur and little Mia, whose first birthday is fast approaching. Parents simply want their kids wrapped up in the tough, protective metal cocoon SUVs enable like nothing else this...
Q5 is the perfect family car
IT isn’t difficult to see why Audi’s become quite possibly the most accomplished, all-round manufacturer in recent years - each model they’ve revealed has been an absolute peach.
In that time its familiar-but-popular A-badged cars, from the dinky A1 to the limo-like A8, have been joined by Q-badged variants which offer everything you’d expect of the marque, albeit in a loftier package.
The Q7 was the first to take the fight to cars like...
EV6 is Kia's best-ever car
Kias are rapidly becoming one of the brightest, forward-thinking manufacturers in the market - but cast your mind back ten years ago and they were a very different proposition.
Remember hateful Sedonas? Truly awful Rios? Those cars - built on a shoestring budget, crammed with scratchy plastics and arguably two of the worst-looking vehicles ever made, had absolutely no redeeming qualities.
Their stark - and extremely quick - rise to the top of...
New Juke's set for sales success
REMEMBER a time when families only had the option of choosing between humble hatchbacks, a saloon or its estate version?
The motoring world’s a very different place in 2022 and just about every manufacturer has branched out into the complex world of MPVs and SUVs.
You’ve got large ones, middling ones and smaller ones - no matter what your budget is, there’s something for everyone.
Take Nissan, for example, a marque that’s...
GV80 takes on Europe's best
“Excuse me, is that a Bentley?”
It’s a question Genesis GV80 owners will become accustomed to hearing and while it’s high praise indeed being compared to a Bentayga that costs four times as much, the unfamiliar brand’ deserves no end of praise as they’ve absolutely hit it out of the park.
Genesis is to the Hyundai Motor Group what Lexus is to Toyota - a more premium, luxurious arm that’s going into battle...
New Supra worthy of its name
WHEN I was a youngster - no older than 12 - my mate’s dad had a highly-modified Toyota Supra. It was absolutely the car’s fault for starting my obsession with Japanese cars.
Having been a twin-turbo A80 version - arguably the most famous Supra of all from the mid-90s - it was converted, like many, to a single-turbo unit and, if memory serves right, was running a north of 600bhp.
I remember the...
Handsome CX-5 has style and substance
IT can’t just be me who’s often looking in my rear-view mirror, being followed by a gaping-grilled, handsome Mazda with sharp, sleek headlights…
It’s happened a few times on the motorway recently; I often associate the marque with the indomitable MX-5 and the family-favourite 3, but this car - the CX-5 - is possibly its best-looking model.
It has to stand out, too, for it’s in battle with some big names in the larger SUV...
All-electric XC40 is best yet
VOLVO’S made an extremely reputable name for itself in the engine stakes in recent years thanks to its frugal diesels and impressive hybrids.
The Swedish firm’s something-for-everyone approach rightly won sales, but having dipped its toe in the water with the clever, forward-thinking Polestar arm, it was only a matter of time before all-electric models trickled down to its most popular vehicles.
Volvo - to me at least - has been transformed into...
Qashqai's family-favourite title remains
LIKE the Juke, the Qashqai’s become a huge hit for Nissan.
It’s not hard to see why, either: cast your mind back to the mid-noughties and there wasn’t much to choose from in the now-congested family SUV sector. The Qashqai, back then, was arguably the very first to kick-off the trend and more than five million have been sold across the globe.
As far as sales hits go, the family-favourite hit gold thanks...
XC60 is one of the best family SUVs on sale
AS far as model line-ups go, Volvo’s takes some beating. XC40, XC60, XC90, V60, V90, S60, S90… all utterly brilliant, all intrinsically linked thanks to their handsome looks, supreme interiors and interesting engines.
The way to decipher them is rather simple: S-badged cars are saloons, Vs are estates and XCs are SUVs. In truth it doesn’t really matter which you pick; all are at the top of their game in 2021.
However, some...
TT RS takes fight to Porsche’s finest
ONE of my earliest motoring memories is of a then-new Ferrari 360 Spider tearing along a dual carriageway. More than 20 years later I can still recall it with crystal-clear clarity: black paint, black cloth roof, V8 shrieking and leaving its indelible mark on an impressionable, car-obsessed youth.
It wasn’t so much the speed because, to my recollection at least, its driver can’t have been doing much more than 50mph on that particular stretch of...
UX continues Lexus' purple patch
LOVE it or loathe it, the government’s unquenchable thirst to reduce emissions is happening at a rapid pace and manufacturers are doing all they can to adhere to ever more stringent rules.
While bans on internal combustion engines are on the horizon, if you can’t be bothered with tedious plug-ins and want an economical, kind-to-the-environment car in the meantime, Lexus and its Toyota sister brand have the market pretty much covered.
Let’s start...
Hybrid V60 offers economy and performance
BABY number two arrived in my life earlier this summer.
Joining three-year-old Arthur, little Mia - a precious, tiny little thing - came early and reminded me just how important safety is in a choice of car.
Fatherhood changes everything as your number one priority immediately turns into keeping them away from danger. Like it or not, the roads are indeed very dangerous places, with dawdling lane hoggers and idiotic...
Eighth-generation GTI is the perfect daily driver
There’s always a tiny bit of trepidation when an all-new version of a motoring icon is released.
Volkswagen’s indomitable Golf GTI is unquestionably royalty, formed over more than 40 years of providing pace, practicality and supreme quality.
Although there's been some low points during previous decades, the eighth-generation GTI looks, on paper at least, set to re-write past cars' wrongs.
To be fair, VW’s been on a role since the woeful mark...
Fourth-generation Sorento the best yet
OVER the last few years I've driven pretty much everything in Kia’s range and I've been impressed by them all in their own way, but the Sorento four-by-four raises the bar to a whole new level.
Launched back in 2002 as the South Korean company's first SUV, the fourth-generation model is a marked move on design-wise from the pretty simply-styled third version.
Whereas the previous car would appear a little archaic - in...
Rally-ready GR Yaris is an all-time great...
EXCITEMENT levels always ramp up when eagerly anticipated cars are released after months of spy shots and the subsequent glossy magazine splashes.
Usually the furore - heightened by cars wearing camouflage taken on the Nurburgring, then the following media coverage - is reserved for exotic manufacturers: new Ferraris, GT-badged Porsches and road-going Lamborghini racers dripping with carbon fibre always register column inches.
But hot hatches - special ones in particular - never fail to strike...
Jag takes fight to German rivals
THE executive estate market shows no sign of slowing down - having been dominated by German marques for years - so manufacturers simply must be on the top of their game if they dare go toe-to-toe with Audi, BMW and Mercedes.
So it’s a relief that Jaguar’s XF Sportbrake, which has been around for more than a decade now, is better than ever in 2021 guise and has become a genuine alternative to the...
All-electric XC40 is an immediate class leader
VOLVO’S fast become one of my favourite manufacturers thanks to their cars’ unrivalled quality, safety and ultra-modern design.
With a sea change in the air - which will see all new petrol and diesel-powered vehicles banned in just nine years’ time - Volvo’s first all-electric attempt away from its Polestar spin-off is absolutely brilliant.
It’s called the XC40 Recharge P8, which is based on the wonderful family-friendly SUV, and manages to retain every...
MX-5 remains at its best
THROWBACKS to the motoring world of yesteryear are few and far between in strait-laced 2021 - with ever-tighter rules and restrictions, manufacturers are seemingly on a hiding to nothing when it comes to making simple cars.
That’s why Ferrari ditched its manual gearboxes and naturally aspirated engines - unthinkable a decade ago - and Lamborghini V10s and V12s will surely be a thing of the past in the coming years.
Every car -...
Pair top of their hybrid game...
LOVE it or loathe it, the government’s unquenchable thirst to reduce emissions is happening at a rapid pace and manufacturers are doing all they can to adhere to ever more stringent rules.
While bans on internal combustion engines are on the horizon, if you can’t be bothered with tedious plug-ins and want an economical, kind-to-the-environment car in the meantime, Lexus and its Toyota sister brand have the market pretty much covered.
Let’s start...
All-electric Kia is a welcome surprise
YOU usually know what you’re going to get in the motoring world - surprises just don’t come along too often.
Volvos are supremely comfortable if a little beige-trousered, Audis have second-to-none interiors, Peugeots still have that irritating view ahead which blocks the speedo and Land Rovers will end up going wrong at some point.
However, on the rare occasion something does surprise, they instantly become memorable as they shatter any pre-conceived opinions which...
Saloon-shaped A3 is top notch
WHILE fast Audis have always divided opinion in recent years - chiefly because of their clinical Quattro four-wheel-drive systems - their ‘normal’ models have excelled in all departments.
That’s because the recipe for creating a good day-to-day vehicle is very different from doing one for a select group of enthusiasts. An emphasis on comfort appears, replacing hard-riding suspension set-ups, while outright performance is dismissed for fuel economy and government-friendly emissions.
As boring as...
Little T-Cross hits high notes
REMEMBER a time when families only had the option of choosing between humble hatchbacks, a saloon or its estate version? The motoring world’s a very different place in 2020 and just about every manufacturer has branched out into the complex world of SUVs.
You’ve got large ones, middling ones and smaller ones - no matter what your budget is, there’s something for everyone. Take Volkswagen, for example. Whereas before you had the Golf and...
Top-drawer spec for enigmatic Cupra
IF I reel off some stand-out features on this car’s spec sheet, it’ll be sure to whet the appetite of every petrolhead. Here goes: Akrapovic exhaust made from titanium, Brembo brakes, carbon fibre wing mirrors, bucket seats, tuning from ABT, 345bhp, less than 100 models…
I could go on, but it all sounds incredibly appealing, doesn’t it? Add in a seven-speed DSG gearbox and four-wheel-drive and it translates into 60mph in under five seconds...
Range Rover Sport and Velar continue brand's purple patch
I BET I know what you’re thinking… something about footballers, right?
Range Rovers have always had a bit of a love-hate relationship with petrolheads as although there’s been supercharged original Sport models in the mid-noughties and current fire-breathing SVRs, they’ve always been a bit ‘footballer’. You’ll have seen countless Premier League stars being pictured in them, and no doubt their spouses turning up to a designer shop in one in some glossy magazine.
Time’s...
RS4 ticks every box
EVER find yourself prowling AutoTrader on the hunt for random cars? A strange thing to non-car-loving people but absolutely normal to us lot and an enjoyable way to pass time when your mind wanders from hot hatches to supercars, taking in everything else between as you piece together your dream multi-car garage.
I’ll go from searching for former cars - the much-missed 106 Rallye and 182 Trophy mainly - and rue the days I...
C-HR steals Qashqai's class-leading crown
IF you’re not into cars, I can all but guarantee you’ll have seen a handsome-looking thing gliding around. Angled lines, extremely futuristic, albeit with a familiar Toyota badge on its front and rear.
It’s called the C-HR and it’s their crack at the competitive family SUV sector, which in recent years has been dominated by the good-but-dull Nissan Qashqai.
Based on the Prius platform and sharing its 1.8-litre hybrid engine in this test...
Type R Limited Edition builds on standard car's greatness
IF I picked the perfect ingredients for a countryside drive the car would - 100 times out of 100 - be a hot hatch. Their uncanny knack of fitting tight, twisty roads like a glove mean you’re not worrying about grazing an eye-wateringly expensive, low-slung carbon splitter and you can instead concentrate on why the car of choice was created: the thrill of driving something built for enthusiasts.
Of course the weather - particularly...
Grimethorpe tuning company's two creations to be raffled
As someone who’s always been an OEM-plus kind of bloke when it comes to cars, you’d perhaps think an assignment to drive two heavily modified superminis would fail to ignite my excitement.
My car modifying history is as follows: Supersprint, Milltek and KTEC exhausts on my S2 106 Rallye, Clio Trophy and Megane R26 respectively, and a nice remap on the latter to unlock a bit more power. That’s it.
When I look...
Class-leading Volvos shine in congested sectors
IT wasn’t too long ago I used to scoff at Volvos whilst going about my day-to-day business. I used to believe they were boring, bought by two types of people: sensible Simons in their big saloons on their way to their middle-management office jobs or middle-class, school-run mums who have a few quid but don’t want to appear too flashy amongst the Range Rover Sports and Audi Q7s outside the gates.
Don’t get me...
Quadrifoglio models turn Alfa's fortunes around
IF I think of guaranteed disappointments which have caused no end of misery in my life, I can recall three key players responsible for continuously plastering a forlorn-looking expression on my face.
Firstly, two football teams: Leeds United and England. My love of the former began when I was a seven-year-old but since the heady, albeit debt-ridden days of the Champions League, I’ve been knocked down more times than a journeyman boxer by a...
New Golf better than ever
VOLKWAGEN’S Golf - thanks to its eight generations over almost 50 years - has always been the go-to choice for families from all backgrounds. Its can-do-all ethos, no matter what setting, has yielded a legion of fans who expect the best from VW’s most famous creation - space, comfort, a good drive and an everything-to-everyone character.
It’s an amazing feat when you think about its breadth of ability - the Golf is a car anyone...
RS5 is one of the great fast Audis
THE German-led battle in the world of family-friendly performance cars with supercar pace shows absolutely no signs of abating - and thank goodness it hasn’t.
For years we’ve been treated to many - BMW M3s, Audi RS4s and Mercedes C63 AMGs to name a few - but there’s always been a little gap in the market for those punters who just don’t really require as much space as an RS4-sized car affords them.
That’s where...
ES300h offers a different take on the German-dominated saloon sector
THINK of the highly competitive saloon sector and your mind automatically conjures up images of a BMW 5-Series, probably dawdling along, infuriatingly hogging a motorway’s middle lane.
The Germans have the market pretty much cornered in truth - Merc’s handsome new E-Class and Audi’s A6 are both worthy contenders to the BMW and, if anything, even eclipse that car.
However, Lexus isn’t a manufacturer known for treading the same path as its rivals and its...
Rally-ready Raptor's character shines
IF I decided to write a list of my most-loathed features found in cars, it’d just save time to pick out Ford’s gigantic Ranger Raptor as a beacon of everything I hate. It weighs two-and-a-half tonnes, it’s got a ten-speed automatic gearbox which, if my memory serves me correctly, is more than my first bicycle, its interior is full of nasty plastics and it’s pretty abysmal to drive.
So why, then, do I absolutely adore...
Type R remains an all-time great
STAND-OUT drives from years gone by can often be recalled as if they had happened yesterday. Each ingredient for that recipe has to be in place - the right road, car and weather conditions all play a huge role but if everything comes together, a perfect memory is formed and it’s something that will stay with you for a lifetime. You’ll remember it each and every time you return to that particular stretch of road.
...
Refreshed Captur appeals
IF I’d taken delivery of a Renault Captur three or four years ago, I’d have moaned about its family-friendly traits and probably come to the hasty conclusion - incorrect, I must now to add - that it was a boring creation that was about as appealing to me as watching daytime television.
Then fatherhood happened. The life-changing impact of having a child - a tiny bundle of joy who somehow requires more additional equipment on...
Seven-seat Tarraco impresses
IF I’d received a Seat Tarraco several years ago, I’d have scoffed at its family-friendly traits and probably come to the rapid conclusion - incorrect, I now hasten to add - that it was a boring creation that was about as appealing to me as watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians.
Then fatherhood happened. The life-changing impact of having a child - a tiny bundle of joy who somehow requires more additional equipment on mundane...
CX-30 fits into small SUV segment
BADGE snobbery is rife within the car world and it often results in blinkered motorists staying true to typical premium brands. It’s why Audi’s hugely successful Q-badged cars, BMW’s uglier-but-popular X range and Mercedes-Benz’s extensive range of crossovers clog Britain’s roads.
But that small Q3-sized segment, so lucrative to manufacturers, hasn’t had much competition from Japan, a nation famed for producing cars that simply have more character than their European counterparts.
Mazda – renowned for...
New Focus ST comes of age
ONE of the motoring world’s simple pleasures is attacking a tricky stretch of countryside road in a car that’s brimming with steering feel and involvement.  If you enjoy driving and being an integral part of the process, little can beat the brilliance of doing such a thing in a hot hatch.
Key to the exercise, repeated countless times over the years, is the subject’s simplicity. Intrusive stability programmes are often dialled down or made redundant...