Displaying items by tag: Hybrid

Saturday, 18 September 2021 06:39

Citroen C5 Aircross PHEV: long-term test review

Second report: West Country holiday lets us put the Citroen C5 Aircross PHEV’s family credentials to the test

 
 
Verdict

The Citroen C5 Aircross was a great holiday car. It felt at home on a motorway cruise, and really delivered on its promise of comfort. It devours miles in a calm and unflustered manner, and left us all feeling refreshed after a coast-to-coast road trip.

  • Mileage: 6,067
  • Economy: 35.5mpg

Family holidays. Stressful in the build-up, and hopefully relaxing when you arrive. That was certainly the case recently, when the Milne clan decamped to north Devon for a week.

The day before we headed off, I noticed that the Citroen’s near-side rear tyre was looking a little low. A quick examination showed a screw had punctured the tread; my worst fears were confirmed when my local fitter said it wasn’t repairable but did, remarkably, have the correct Michelin tyre in stock. At 4.45pm. On a Friday. That’s lucky.

We set off, only to be confronted by an unhappy tyre pressure monitoring system. It turns out that the replacement tyre’s valve had been damaged during fitting, and with a new one installed, all was good.

Otherwise, the trip really couldn’t have gone better, aside from Google Maps sending us on the A303 past Stonehenge, and straight into the inevitable traffic jam.

The C5 Aircross has revealed itself to be at its very best on a long motorway jaunt. Its Advance Comfort seats are cosseting, and the ride, which can be choppy around town, is gloriously smoother at speed. The 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine is quiet, only becoming harsh when accelerating hard, but there’s precious little wind or road noise. It could well be stunning on the French autoroutes, when restrictions ease and all Brits can cross the Channel to visit and travel freely.

Visibility is very good indeed, and aside from the usual grumbles my kids were happy and comfortable; even more so when we arrived. It was then that they could really enjoy the view out, spotting the myriad grazing animals that scatter that part of the world. I was also glad of that good visibility when carving our way through the narrow roads of the county’s chocolate-box villages.

It’s here that the C5 Aircross really shone. It’s as big a car as you’d really need on these roads; larger SUVs feel just too big for the conditions. And it’s as funky and striking as you’d want, too, more than up to the job of standing bumper to bumper with the brightly coloured VW Transporters which seem to account for every second vehicle in Devon’s coastal towns. In fact, strapping a surfboard to the roof might transform the Aircross into a super-cool surf wagon. 

The holiday was the first time I’d really travelled a long distance in it. And while fuel economy has sat at around 34mpg without regular charging, it travelled 41 miles for every gallon of unleaded on the motorway – not bad considering it was fully loaded – against a mainly round-town economy of 35.3mpg. For the next report, I’ll see what it’s capable of with more frequent charging. 

The long and often severe gradients around Devon let me make the most of the Aircross’ regenerative brakes. On many of the longer 10-15 per cent descents, it was perfectly possible to maintain the speed limit without touching the brake pedal, although the ability to vary the amount of regen would be handy. Nevertheless, it’s very satisfying to see the charge meter climb using nothing but otherwise-wasted energy.

I had expected the boot to struggle with our luggage, which is more of a reflection of us not travelling light than the Citroen’s 460-litre capacity. To maximise luggage space we ditched the charging cable, and used the removable tray it’s stowed in to carry sandy shoes and muddy boots.

Citroen C5 Aircross PHEV: first report

Our plug-in hybrid SUV brings the promise of superb economy

  • Mileage: 3,597
  • Economy: 33.6mpg 

Platform sharing. It’s now commonplace for cars to share the same basic chassis toolkit. But that doesn’t necessarily mean everything becomes the same. Sometimes, it allows brands the freedom to take a few risks.

It’s these quirks that I’ve been enjoying most with the Citroen C5 Aircross over the past few months. I love the off-beat styling, the bold paintwork and the funky interior. In a world of Russian-doll styling and monochrome paint – as demonstrated above – it’s a breath of fresh air.

It’s the complete reverse of the Vauxhall Grandland X I ran back in 2018, a car that, like the C5 Aircross, is underpinned by Stellantis’s EMP2 platform. That car was conservatively styled in the extreme, and the fuel economy didn’t impress – two criticisms that can’t be levelled at the Volcano Red plug-in hybrid you see here.

The £35,000 asking price isn’t too bad either, especially when the C5 Aircross undercuts hybrid versions of both the Peugeot 3008 and DS 7 Crossback.

So what do you get for your money? Well, as standard, my Flair model (since renamed as Shine) gets the City Camera Pack with a combination of displays, including a handy composite bird’s-eye view, a fully digital 12.3-inch instrument display, AEB with modes to detect pedestrians (not yet put to the test, fortunately), and traffic sign recognition. It also has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which is a very good thing indeed, because the touchscreen interface isn’t the most intuitive or responsive.  

Of more importance to the young-family car driver are the buttons to disable the rear window switches and to activate the child locks, which puts an end to the need to flick fiddly switches in the door jambs.

The business end of charging works well. There’s a 6.6kW onboard charger that means a full battery top-up takes less than two hours, something that’s good for a WLTP-certified range of 33-40 miles. In reality, and mostly cool weather conditions, I’ve been covering more like 23 miles.

The charging flap is on the passenger-side rear wing, which isn’t ideal because it means I have a slightly tricky reverse parking manoeuvre to execute to get close to my Pod Point wallbox.

Naturally, with any kind of PHEV your efficiency may vary. Early on, and with a full battery charge, the trip readout was indicating 100mpg-plus economy figures. With the battery depleted, it’s settled to 33.6mpg on mostly round-town journeys. So I’ll be hooking it up to my wallbox on a regular basis to try to improve those figures.

All the usual drive modes are available; it’ll default to Electric when the battery has a slug of charge, and Hybrid when it doesn’t. Sport mode is largely redundant, but the charge hold function is handy for ensuring electric-only driving in towns and cities. 

Acoustically insulated front side windows are fitted to all hybrid models, and they certainly help to make electric-only progress really very quiet indeed. When the 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine kicks in, it does so very smoothly, although it gets rather thrashy if you come anywhere close to replicating the 8.7-second 0-62mph time.

While the Aircross doesn’t offer one-pedal driving, an enhanced brake regen mode is accessed by a tug of the gearstick. It’s not perfect though: the gearlever is on the left side of the transmission tunnel – a slight stretch away and likely a result of the switch from left to right-hand drive.

That aside, there’s a healthy amount of storage: wide door bins, cubbies ahead and to the side of the gearlever, and vast space between the front seats for a large pack of anti-bacterial wipes, bottles of alcohol gel and rubber gloves – items that have come to define the past 12 months.

Model: Citroen C5 Aircross PHEV e-EAT8 Flair
On fleet since: February 2021
Price new: £35,370
Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl petrol + e-motor, 222bhp
CO2/tax: 32-41g/km/£140
Options: Volcano Red paint (£545), White Anodised Colour pack (£0)
Insurance*: Group: 27  Quote: £487
Mileage/mpg: 6,067/35.5mpg
Any problems? Puncture

*Insurance quote from AA (0800 107 0680) for a 42-year-old in Banbury, Oxon, with three points.

(autoexpress.co.uk)

Published in Citroen
Friday, 17 September 2021 07:06

BMW 330e review

Plug-in BMW 3 Series is an excellent, tax-efficient all-rounder 

 At a glance

New price £40,440 - £51,145
Lease from new From £475 p/mView lease deals
Used price £24,905 - £45,360
Used monthly cost From £622 per month
Fuel Economy 156.9 - 217.3 mpg
Road tax cost £145 - £480
Insurance group 33 - 36How much is it to insure?
New
26.5 - 36.8
Miles per pound (mpp)
 

 PROS

  • Up to 41 miles of battery-only range
  • Lovely steering and balanced handling
  • Great hybrid efficiency and performance

 CONS

  • Not as nice to drive as a standard petrol 3 Series
  • Lacks the sweet-sounding engine of a 330i
  • Reduced boot space compared with non plug-ins
 

Is the BMW 330e any good?

It won't exactly be news to you that the BMW 330e is very good indeed. It already accounts for 25% of all 3 Series sales in the UK thanks to the undeniable tax avantages of running the plug-in version on the company. But the good news is that this is not be the only reason for going for a 330e – it is a genuinely excellent all-rounder.

For one, it's very good to drive. Not perfect, but very good. For another, the electric-only driving range is usable to the point that it will cover most owners' commutes. And finally, there's the XtraBoost feature that cranks the combined petrol/electric power output up to 295hp – if only for short bursts at a time.

So, it's a plug-in that's rational and exciting – read on to find out just what it is that makes the 330e so special.

What's it like inside?

If you're familiar with the standard BMW 3 Series, then you won't find many surprises here, and it's business as usual. The boot space has suffered compared with the standard car, as you’ll find the floor is humped. The hump is actually the fuel tank, which has been moved from its usual position under the seats to make room for the batteries – overall effect is that the standard saloon packs away 480 litres of boot space, while the 330e has just 375 litres.

The infotainment systems and digital dials gain hybrid-related display options, but aside from rearranging a few of the buttons on the centre console, this is the only difference in the passenger compartment.

  • Read all about the standard BMW 3 Series' interior here
BMW 330e interior (2021)
 What's it like to drive?

The 330e combines the same 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo petrol engine you’ll find in the regular 320i with an electric motor that’s neatly integrated into the eight-speed Steptronic automatic transmission. The petrol engine develops 184hp and the electric motor adds another 112hp. Very impressive, even if you can’t just add those two figures together to get the car’s total power output.

So, the 330e’s official power output is 252hp, which rises to 292hp when you activate the XtraBoost function for short periods of time under full acceleration. There's no 'push to pass' boost button, it's just activated by flooring the accelerator in either the S or M transmission settings.

On the road, the results are impressive. Floor it from the lights and the 330e springs forward with real vigour. The 0-62mph time is 5.9 seconds, but it feels faster than that, especially considering how on the motorway it builds speed quicker than a 330d. You only get 10 seconds of XtraBoost, but that's more than enough on UK roads.

Handling

One criticism we'd level at the 330e is that it just isn’t that much fun to drive. The four-cylinder engine sounds strained when worked hard and it feels less agile in bends, presumably as a result of accommodating the additional weight of the hybrid batteries.

But it is still a car that devours bends without blinking. It’s just that a little of the fun has gone missing from the process, as exhibited by the slightly light and artificial feel to the steering (again, even in the heaviest Sport setting).

BMW 330e charging port
 
Range and hybrid driving

The 330e is able to drive up to 41 miles on electric power alone, and there are an increased number of options to make the most of it battery. You can set a guide percentage of power pack life you’d like to retain and the car will do its best to manage this on your behalf.

There is also an automatic setting, which works with the sat-nav guidance to choose the most appropriate points on your route to deploy the electricity. You can manually activate full electric mode up to 87mph and cruise there until the remaining range runs out.

Fuel economy and charging times

The official fuel economy for the 330e is a claimed 138mpg in the WLTP real-world test, with CO2 emissions of 39g/km (that’s 10% less CO2 than the last version). You’ll need to be using the electric power a lot and mostly doing short journeys to get close to those figures, however.

You’ll also need to plug the hybrid part into the mains as many times as possible in between journeys; a full charge takes three hours and 25 minutes using a BMW i Wallbox, or five hours and 40 minutes using a plain old three-pin plug.

BMW 330e (2021) rear view, driving
 
What models and trims are available?

As with the standard car, quality is right up there, but the interior design has arguably become a little too generic, and despite the size of the screens available, remains rather cluttered. The 330e is available in SE, Sport and M Sport specification, just like the rest of the UK range.

 
BMW 330e (2021) side view
 
Should you buy one?

If you want a medium-sized plug-in hybrid family car, then this is the best you can buy right now. And as such, we can heartily recommend the 330e in either Saloon or Touring form – with the latter's additional practicality being an additional selling point for us.

Rivals include the Mercedes-Benz C-Class PHEV (in petrol and diesel forms), the Peugeot 508 PHEV, Volkswagen Passat GTE and Skoda Superb iV, and the. There's no Audi in the list – the A4 TFSIe is yet to be announced. And as an overall package, the 330e beats them all.

But while the 330e does the whole PHEV thing perfectly well, it still isn’t the kind of car that works as well as it should for car enthusiasts. This is well thought-out and even enjoyable tool, rather than the kind of genuinely emotional experience a really outstanding BMW can be.

Buy a new, nearly new or used BMW 3-Series 330e Hybrid

See all the current BMW 3-Series 330e deals on Parkers Cars For Sale

What we like

BMW’s plug-in hybrid is blessed with plentiful performance, an extended electric range of more than 40 miles and some other very clever tricks. Its popularity is no accident – you might buy it to save on tax, but you can enjoy yourself at the same time, as it's a BMW through-and-through and drives as it should.

What we don't like

It's all relative, but do bear in mind that if you're opting out of a 330d or 330i, it'll feel marginally less agile in your hands.

(parkers.co.uk)

Published in BMW
Tagged under

Jeep's new plug-in-hybrid Wrangler promises 375 horsepower and 49 MPGe but struggles to smoothly blend its gas and electric power.

The 4xe (pronounced "four by E") sandwiches a 270-hp turbocharged inline-four between a 44-hp motor connected through the accessory belt at the front and a 134-hp motor taking the place of the transmission's torque converter at the back. The motors draw power from a roughly 14.0-kWh lithium-ion battery stashed under the rear seats. Whether the 4xe is running in Electric mode or as a hybrid, torque is routed to the wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission and a transfer case that offers rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive (4WD Auto), and high- or low-range four-wheel drive for the off-road crowd.

 
2021 jeep wrangler unlimited rubicon 4xe

HIGHS: Guilt-free electric motoring, go-anywhere capability, one vehicle that does the job of many.

 In other words, the power flow through the Wrangler 4xe's running gear is, at times, harder to follow than the plot of Inception. At least the net results are easy to understand: 375 horsepower, an EPA fuel economy of 49 MPGe with the battery charged, and 21 miles of guilt-free electric driving before the gas engine kicks on. The 4xe promises to combine contradictory attributes—power and efficiency—into a single product that would have been unthinkable just 10 years ago, like those business-casual sweatpants you can now wear to work. The plug-in hybrid makes the same torque—470 lb-ft—as the V-8-powered Wrangler Rubicon 392, which is rated at just 14 mpg combined.
 
2021 jeep wrangler unlimited rubicon 4xe
In Car and Driver testing, a $62,415 Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 4xe hit 60 mph in 5.5 seconds, which makes it quicker than anything with recirculating-ball steering needs to be. (The Rubicon 392, a vehicle designed around absurd excess, should be about a second quicker, but we haven't tested one yet.) You'll have to shift into 4WD Auto if you want to hustle the plug-in hybrid that hard, because in two-wheel-drive mode the Wrangler throttles the torque, resulting in a 60-mph time that's 1.3 seconds slower.

LOWS: Sluggish in Electric mode, clunky in Hybrid mode, unexceptional fuel economy once the battery is depleted.

2021 jeep wrangler unlimited rubicon 4xe
When the gas and electric powertrains are working in harmony, this Wrangler drives well enough, but transitions between pure electric driving and hybrid operation are can be slow and jarring. If the battery is depleted or the driver asks for more power than the electric motor can deliver, the inline-four often jumps into action with all the grace of a middle schooler at their first dance. There are pregnant pauses long enough that you might ask out loud "What the hell is happening?" before the Jeep starts accelerating with any urgency. Other times the engine makes a rushed, jerky entrance. Driving the Wrangler 4xe in suburban traffic is a constant reminder that calibrating two powertrains to behave as one is more than twice as complicated as tuning a single propulsion source.

An Electric mode remaps the accelerator so that the gas engine kicks on only if you flatten the right pedal. Annoyingly, if you always want to start out driving electrically, you'll have to switch into this mode every time you start the 4xe. But you probably won't, because driving that way, you're moving a 5318-pound brick with just 134 horsepower. That's enough to keep up with traffic, but treating the 4xe as an EV doesn't have the same fun, torque-rich punch we've come to associate with electric driving.

2021 jeep wrangler unlimited rubicon 4xe
To get the full fuel-economy benefit, you'll have to stay close to home and plug in often. A 150-mile trip with only a single charge tanked our average fuel economy over roughly 200 miles to a dismal 16 MPGe. Owners who are religious about plugging in and puttering around in Electric mode will certainly fare better, although we suspect most buyers will come up well short of 49 MPGe. Once the battery has been depleted, the 4xe actually gets worse fuel economy than a Wrangler powered by the turbo four with none of the plug-in-hybrid hardware (20 versus 22 mpg combined). Blame the extra 800 pounds that the 4xe carries wherever it goes.

If you can tune out the powertrain's hiccups and awkward pauses, you'll find that the 4xe drives like any other Wrangler. There's enough slack in the steering, squish in the suspension, and imprecision in the all-terrain tires to hide the effect of all of that extra weight on the dynamics. Turns out there is an advantage to a numb and vague chassis after all.

2021 jeep wrangler unlimited rubicon 4xe

Wrangler buyers are used to making those compromises. For years, Americans have happily paid a premium for a vehicle that's loud on the highway, thirsty at the pump, and cramped inside in order to own the ultimate do-anything vehicle. As with any other Wrangler, the 4xe can be a family SUV, a convertible, an off-roader, and a daily driver. It can tow 3500 pounds, and it can ford 30 inches of water as easily as it rolls over a curb in the Piggly Wiggly parking lot.

But the 4xe's clumsy powertrain strikes us as a compromise that few people should tolerate, especially given the $10,705 premium over a V-6 Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon. (Many buyers will be eligible for a $7500 credit on their federal taxes, but even that doesn't balance this equation for us.) Most Jeep shoppers will be better served by accepting that, at least for now, a simpler Wrangler is a better Wrangler.

(caranddriver.com)

Published in Jeep
Tagged under

A smooth gas-electric powertrain, quiet cabin, and premium features give Hyundai's updated mid-size crossover an edge.

Unlike Toyota, Hyundai isn't really known for its hybrids. Although its Ioniq hatchback is a solid shot across the Prius's bow, Hyundai doesn't broadly tout the fuel-sipping virtues of its hybrid powertrains, instead focusing on its familiar narrative of value and accessible luxury. But perhaps that's changing. Over the past year, the company has rolled out hybrid versions of several of its popular models, including the Sonata family sedan, the Elantra compact car, and the Tucson and Santa Fe SUVs.
 
2021 hyundai santa fe hybrid limited awd
 

HIGHS: Smooth handoff from electric to gas power, premium cabin, confident road manners.

At the test track, our all-wheel-drive Limited test ute got to 60 mph in a decent 7.5 seconds and sailed through the quarter-mile in 15.7 seconds at 90 mph. These numbers are close to the Santa Fe hybrid's only direct rival, the Toyota Venza, which was a bit slower in both metrics. Don't worry that the gas-electric Santa Fe is 1.5 seconds slower to 60 mph than the more-powerful turbocharged Calligraphy model we last tested. The immediate throttle response of the hybrid's electric motor at slower speeds makes it feel plenty eager in normal driving. Not only that, but the handoff between gasoline and electric power is virtually seamless. Only occasionally did we notice a slight thud as the four-cylinder deactivated while coasting to a stop, indicating that the power source had changed.

2021 hyundai santa fe hybrid limited awd

The Santa Fe Hybrid's cabin is impressively hushed. We measured a quiet 68 decibels at 70 mph, and the 69-decibel level it produces at full throttle is a substantial 7 decibels quieter than the non-hybrid turbocharged 2.5-liter version. But its ambiance is occasionally disturbed by Michigan's heavily pockmarked asphalt, which the suspension doesn't always dampen out. Otherwise, the handling of our test car on its 19-inch Continental CrossContact LX Sport all-season tires was similar to what we experienced in the regular model. The 0.82 g of grip we measured on the skidpad is adequate, although we'd prefer a shorter stop from 70 mph than the hybrid's 183 feet—some eight feet longer than the standard model. From behind the wheel, there's a feeling of solidity that reminds us of premium SUVs such as the BMW X5, and our test vehicle was decked out with features that bolster that impression.

LOWS: Not as fuel efficient as a Toyota Venza, unremarkable acceleration, occasional suspension shutters over rough roads.

2021 hyundai santa fe hybrid limited awd
Our Black Noir-painted example featured comfortable leather-trimmed seats with an upscale quilted pattern on the backrests. Dual digital displays serve as gauges, and infotainment and other luxuries—such as a Harman Kardon stereo and a large panoramic sunroof—added to the upscale vibe. Some cheaper plastics can be found on the lower, less-visible sections of the door panels and center console, but the top Limited trim easily meets the expectations set by its $41,135 base price. Even at the entry-level Blue model's $34,835 starting point, the Santa Fe hybrid is nicely finished.

But a hybrid also needs to deliver on fuel economy, and the Santa Fe's EPA estimates of 33 mpg city and 30 mpg highway are well below the Venza's 40/37 mpg ratings. We tested both vehicles on our 75-mph highway fuel-economy test and recorded 31 mpg for the Hyundai and 36 mpg for the Toyota. That said, the Santa Fe hybrid fares notably better than some nonhybrid alternatives, such as the Honda Passport and the aforementioned Santa Fe Calligraphy, both of which managed 27 mpg in the same test. We averaged 28 mpg during the course of our car's loan.

2021 hyundai santa fe hybrid limited awd
While the auto industry as a whole is moving toward electric-only driving, hybrids such as the Santa Fe offer a means for range-anxious buyers to test the waters. This Hyundai's biggest issue is that it shares showroom space with the 2022 Tucson hybrid, which is nearly as spacious, just as nicely outfitted, and slightly cheaper. A plug-in-hybrid Santa Fe will join the lineup for the 2022 model year, but it'll only be sold in select states. We'll also likely see an all-electric Santa Fe-sized SUV at some point as Hyundai expands its Ioniq range of electric vehicles, starting next year with the Ioniq 5. Until then, the updated Santa Fe hybrid is an attractive two-row crossover with a premium cabin, a well-integrated hybrid powertrain, and above-average fuel efficiency.
 
(caranddriver.com)
Published in Hyundai
Monday, 28 June 2021 06:33

Toyota Yaris Cross first drive

Latest small SUV is good to drive and economical

Is the Toyota Yaris Cross any good?

If you're in the market for a small SUV, you're never going to complain that there isn't enough choice out there. With models from Audi to Volvo on offer, there really is something for everyone. And yet, into this mosh pit of new car activity, Toyota has entered the fray, giving us the hybrid-powered Yaris Cross, a funky new offering based on, yes, the Yaris supermini.

It gets Toyota's new, fourth generation hybrid powertrain, and should appeal to those looking for an economical and fun-to-drive small family car that offers lots of room and a family-friendly interior. The firm says it's a genuine SUV, benefiting from all the experience it has amassed with the RAV4, with two models in the range benefitting from AWD-i intelligent four-wheel drive.

However, it's up against a herd of rivals, and it needs to be good to stand out. Top of your shopping list will be the 2021 Parkers New Car of The Year-winning Ford Puma. But the Peugeot 2008, Nissan Juke, Renault Captur, Skoda Kamiq and Volkswagen T-Cross are all highly-talented alternatives.

The good news is that it has the looks and the hardware to impress in this crowd – as our early drive of a pre-production prototype here in the UK demonstrates.

What's it like inside?

Two words comes to mind after spending time in the Yaris Cross: grown up. It might be closely related to a big-selling small car, but thanks to the high seating position and roomy cabin, it feels like a car from the market sector above. The dashboard, which is similar to its namesake, is fully featured and dominated by a high-set central infotainment screen above digital climate controls (with physical temperature control knobs – yes!)

Features include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (both tested wirelessly), with an optional head-up display, adaptive cruise control and a fully digital instrument panel also on offer.

It's solid and well laid-out, with plenty of storage space for your smartphones (room and charging for two), as well as a roomy central cubby hole between the seats and spacious door bins. Our test car was marked down for extensive use of black plastics and dark materials, which means it doesn’t feel as bright and airy inside as some rivals. Having said that, for families, a dark interior is easier to keep clean.

It's 240mm longer than the Yaris hatchback, which allows more room inside. There's plenty of space up front and in the rear, with a pair of tall back-seat passengers being able to make themselves comfortable without too much difficulty. The 40:20:40 split folding rear seat, electric tailgate and split-level boot floor are all positive points. The boot floor panel can be divided in two and the luggage compartment has a flex belt system to keep items securely in place when driving.

What's it like to drive?

The Yaris Cross comes in only one guise and pairs a 1.5-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine with an electric motor. The total power output of the two is 116hp, which compares well with its rivals. It's based on on the 2.0- and 2.5-litre powertrains in the Corolla, C-HR, RAV4 and Camry, and is good for a WLTP combined fuel economy figure of 65.9mpg and CO2 figures of less than 120g/km (135g/km for the four-wheel drive model).

Maximum speed is 105mph and the 0-62mph time is 11.2 seconds (11.8 for the four-wheel drive version). Although those performance figures don't promise an exciting drive, it feels quick off the mark and smooth in general driving when underway, with the three-cylinder engine humming away quietly in the background. It's best suited to town work, although it's quiet and refined on the motorway, too.

As a conventional hybrid (you don't plug it in), the battery and motor are there to assist the car in certain situations, but a dashboard indictor lets you know how much time it's spent in pure EV mode, and it can be surprising just how much that is. On our mainly urban test route, it reported we were in EV mode for anywhere between 60-75% of the time. We saw it running on battery comfortably up to motorway speeds. Impressive.

Handling is very good, too, with accurate and well-weighted steering, little bodyroll and a feeling of precision that's quite unusual in this market sector. We wouldn't describe it as sporty, but it's certainly keen and will keep you entertained on B-roads if you're cracking on. Despite this emphasis on roadholding, the ride quality is actually above average – it's firm, but well-damped, which means you'll feel the lumps and bumps, but they don't come crashing through uncomfortably. Overall, a very good effort.

What models and trims are available?

There are four models to choose from, plus a fully-featured Premiere Edition version, available for one year only. The entry-level Icon model comes well-equipped, but then it should, as it's not as cheap as many of its small SUV rivals.

It comes with 16-inc alloy wheels, an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment set-up with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, reversing camera and automatic headlights and wipers. Next model up is the Design, which adds larger wheels, LED headlights, aluminium roof rails and rear privacy glass.

Toyota expects the Yaris Cross Excel model to be its biggest seller, and with that, in addition to the above you also get 18-inch wheels, power-asssted tailgate with kick sensor, a larger 9.0-inch infotainment scren, Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert with auto brake, heated steering wheel and front seats and dual-zone automatic air conditioning.

The top-of-the range Dynamic model adds even more features, listed below:

Bi-tone paint finish with black roof
Door mirrors with auto-retracting function
Power lumbar adjustment on driver’s seat
Optional intelligent all-wheel drive (AWD-i)
The limited-edition Yaris Cross Premiere Edition gains black leather interior, a JBL eight-speaker sound system, and 10-inch head-up display.

What else should I know?

All models feature Toyota Safety Sense and driver assistance systems as standard. It can warn the driver of an upcoming collision and help steer and brake it out of trouble, or at least lessen the effects of a collision. It also has pedestrian and cyclist recognition, Lane Departure Alert and Road Sign Assist.

Toyota Yaris Cross verdict

Should you buy one?

Based on the pre-production prototype we've driven so far, it's looking very good for the Toyota Yaris Cross. It's good to drive, practical, roomy for passengers and luggage and in our hands on a fairly congested test route, very economical on petrol. We'll reserve judgement on just how good it is compared with the class-leading Ford Puma and Skoda Kamiq until we've spent more time with it.

Against the popular Peugeot 2008 and Renault Captur, the Yaris Cross looks very good – it's well made and well-equipped although that's reflected in the fact there are no low-priced entry-level models to tempt you into the showroom. But it's a Toyota, so the reliability is a given, the dealer support is excellent, and the warranty cover is now an unprecedented 10 years if you keep it in the dealer network.

It's looking like a safe and sound choice, which might lack the excitement and interest of some of its rivals, but it's looking good for pain-free long-term ownership.

What we like

Despite the bits of camouflage tape on our test car, we can see that it's a good-looking thing, perhaps more so than the Yaris hatchback it's based on. We like the fuel consumption and low emissions, and the fact it's available as a four-wheel drive in the top-of-the-range version.

Handling and ride are definite plus points, as its refinement and smoothness in town. The driving position is good, the controls and features are all easily managed, and there isn't an over-reliance on the touchscreen for basic functions that you'll find in certain rivals.

What we don't like

It's a shame that in offering an all-hybrid line-up in the UK (good), as it comes at a cost (bad). With a starting price well above £20,000, there will be buyers who will be put off going for a Yaris Cross, despite it offering good value for money at a higher price point.

(parkers.co.uk)

Published in Toyota

It doesn't offer the same driving dynamics as the Honda Accord, but the Sonata's hybrid model has the best fuel economy of the mid-size family sedans we've tested.

Hyundai redesigned its Sonata sedan in 2020, hoping that its new styling and updated tech would help it compete with other popular mid-sizers such as the Toyota Camry and our longtime favorite in the segment, the Honda Accord. But while Hyundai sold 76,997 Sonatas last year, Honda moved nearly 270,000 Accords, and nearly 300,000 Camrys found new homes, proving that the winnowing of the sedan category—no more Ford, no more General Motors—has left only the most ruthless competition. And to compete with the Camry and Accord, it's a given that you need to offer a fuel-sipping hybrid model. Hyundai actually offers two distinct electrified Sonatas, the Sonata Hybrid and Sonata Hybrid Blue, with the latter scoring an EPA combined 52 mpg. Unlike the Accord, however, fun behind the wheel doesn't seem like it was part of the Sonata's design brief.

Sonata Hybrids are powered by a 150-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder paired with an electric motor and battery pack, generating a combined 192 horsepower. The updated model has new shift programming for the six-speed automatic transmission, which Hyundai claims makes the shifts smoother. Nonetheless, the transition between the electric motor and gas engine is convulsive, and there's occasional lag when shifting. The Sonata's conventional automatic transmission makes it an outlier in the mid-size hybrid crowd, with the Accord using a one-speed direct-drive transmission and the Camry employing a continuously variable automatic (CVT). The Accord isn't much more powerful than the Sonata—it's rated at 212 horsepower—but it's a full second quicker to 60 mph, taking 7.1 seconds to reach 60 mph compared to the Sonata's 8.1-second plod.

HIGHS: Exceptional fuel economy, luxurious cabin in top trim, solar roof.

Hyundai's new look for the Sonata is generally attractive, even if it looks a bit awkward from a few angles, and our test car's 17-inch wheels, standard on the SEL and Limited models, don't help its looks, either. But small wheels do help with its fuel economy, as indicated by the Blue's EPA numbers—it uses 16-inch wheels. Honda's top Touring trim for the Accord Hybrid can be equipped with a set of 19-inch wheels, which likely hurt its fuel economy in our most recent test.

When we tested a 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, we achieved 51 mpg during our 75-mph highway fuel-economy test. And we barely noticed the fuel gauge ticking down during our time with this 2021 example. The 2021 Sonata Hybrid is EPA rated at 47 mpg combined, while the Blue model earns a 52 mpg rating thanks to a 16-inch wheel-and-tire package and the removal of the spare tire. A Honda Accord hybrid only managed 35 mpg in our highway fuel-economy test, a deficit that can't be ascribed to any one factor. But on the highway, the Sonata's conventional automatic transmission and smaller wheels and tires definitely gave it an advantage. The Toyota Camry scores up to 52 mpg in the EPA's ratings, but the CVT-equipped Camry is also less than enthralling to drive.

LOWS: Looks awkward from some angles, unpleasant powertrain, lazy acceleration.

Exclusive to the Limited model, the Sonata offers a feature unique in the segment: solar panels on the roof. Hyundai says that the solar roof can add up to two miles of driving range per day, and it charges both the standard 12-volt battery and the hybrid powertrain's 1.6-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Should the 12-volt battery go dead, the Sonata is the rare hybrid that can jump-start itself. Push the 12V Batt Reset button on the dash and the Hyundai will use its high-voltage battery as an onboard jump pack. Very clever.

Hyundai's SmartSense driver-assistance package is standard on all models, and it includes lane-keeping assist, braking assist, and a driver monitoring system. Unfortunately, Hyundai's Smart Park remote parking system—remember that Super Bowl commercial?—is absent from the hybrid's roster of options. Fortunately, the car's surround-view camera and front and rear parking sensors make parking easy.

As soon as you open the solid-feeling door, it's evident that this is a relative of Genesis, Hyundai's luxury wing. The driver's seat seems unusually high, perhaps a subtle bid to keep potential crossover buyers in the sedan camp. Upon start, the gauge cluster comes to life with crisp, animated graphics that look like something from a German brand. However, the 12.3-inch screen behind the wheel is only available on the top-of-the-line Limited model. Touches of Genesis carry over into the climate controls, too, where textured silver rings surround the knobs. The Limited gets a 10.3-inch dash infotainment screen, with other models getting an 8.0-inch screen. There, as in other Hyundai and Kia products, drivers can select an array of calming sounds, like a crackling fireplace.

The Sonata Hybrid slots between the Accord and Camry in price, starting at $28,755 for the base Blue model. Our Limited test car, which included full LED headlamps, the solar roof, and a leather interior, stickered for $36,474, which still puts it well below the average new-car price. The Sonata might not be the performance champ of the mid-size-hybrid segment, but it does have its particular merits, stellar highway fuel economy and styling that dares to have a point of view among them. But you get both of those things on the least expensive model, the Blue, along with an extra five miles per gallon. So, while we enjoy luxury frills as much as anyone, it seems that the most compelling Sonata Hybrid is also the most affordable one.

(caranddriver.com)

Published in Hyundai

 

Meet the many-hatted Peugeot 508 Sport Engineered – in one package a stylish fastback, business-class motorway cruiser, zero-tailpipe-emissions planet-pleaser and now, apparently, a powerful sports car.

That's a lot of plates to spin. So it won't surprise you to hear Peugeot's turned to a flexible plug-in hybrid powertrain to achieve it, promising more power than a regular petrol or diesel with the option to run emissions-free for a claimed 26 miles too.

Thing is, the 508 is mostly bought by company-car drivers, who usually only require a posh badge to impress clients, an M Sport bodykit to impress colleagues, and a small diesel engine to impress the fleet manager. Does the PSE model over-complicate things?

Who cares? It's a fast Peugeot!

Well yes, there is that, but consider the £50,000 price tag – for retail customers that puts the 508 PSE in the crosshairs of the BMW M340i and Audi S5 Sportback.

That's not an inherently difficult circle to square, because this is not only a fast Peugeot, but a very fast, very good Peugeot.

508 pse side pan

It's actually the most powerful roadgoing car the French maker has ever sold, in fact, with as much power in its electric motors as the 405 T16 we all so desperately want it to be.

Why doesn't it have a GTi badge?

Peugeot says that's a question only British journalists ask, such is our love of the marque's heritage hot hatchbacks. But the 508 is something entirely different, offering a broader spread of talents than an out-and-out sports saloon.

The Sport Engineered name means it's a 508 first and foremost, with the benefit of being breathed on by Peugeot's go-faster division. It's WandaVision to The Avengers or The Mandalorian to Star Wars.

What's it like to drive?

Fast! But that shouldn't be a surprise, considering the 335bhp and 384lb ft of torque on offer from a 1.6-litre petrol engine and two electric motors, and an all-wheel drive system to help deliver it all cleanly to the tarmac.

It's not as fast as a pure-petrol M340i or S5 with those numbers, because it's heavier than a pure-petrol car. But it's not as heavy as you might imagine – the 1850kg kerbweight is actually pretty good for a PHEV.

The gearbox likes to shuffle up the cogs to save fuel (as is the way these days), but in Sport mode it seems to hang onto them for too long. The best solution is to use the column-mounted manual shift paddles, but these are too short and set too high – more suited to a ten-to-two driver than a quarter-to-three. Plus the left paddle is sandwiched between the left indicator stalk and cruise controls, and this is annoying.

Things are better in the handling department where the 508 PSE is quite neutral in a corner and can be persuaded into a bit of lift-off oversteer as you'd expect in a car fettled by Peugeot Sport. This car is lower and wider than the standard model, and has its own springs, dampers and anti-roll bars.

The suspension is adaptive and offers a broad spread of settings, from comfy to firm, although there's always an edge to the ride that reminds you you're in the sportiest version. Otherwise it's typical Peugeot Sport – more hot hatch than a saloon, with light controls, a little bit of bodyroll, and agility and compliance to the ride, which adds huge fun on UK roads.

Only one thing stands out (and being a plug-in hybrid this won't surprise you): the brake pedal is spongy and hard to get dialled into. The 508 PSE is equipped with Alcon calipers and bi-material discs, which offer plenty of stopping power, but without mechanical pedal feel it can be hard to meter out.

How long does it take to charge?

The 11.5kWh battery takes about three to four hours to fill at the standard 3.7kW rate – a 7.4kW charger is an option, dropping the time to one hour and 45 minutes. Either way you only get a Type 2 cable, with no three-pin unless you pay for it.

You need a full battery to get all 355hp, although with no charge the 508 will run as a sort-of hybrid in town, and on the whole it's pretty smooth and unobtrusive.

Pick up the pace, though, and you'll be greeted by the slightly reedy and over-synthesised tone of the petrol engine, which is alright when you want to cruise around in peace, but not very soul-stirring when you crack on. Still, that's another good reason to keep it charged.

Is it any different inside and out?

It's a pretty subtle change in exterior styling – from a distance – but as you get closer you'll notice all sorts of enhancements.

The most stand-out are the Kryptonite green additions, including the new claw logo, and the aggressive diffuser and aero ducting on the front bumper. Small vertical blades stick up on the edges of both and are probably more useful for tucking the cable into while the car's on charge than actually channelling air, but they're quite cool nonetheless.

Inside, you still get Peugeot's divisive i-Cockpit layout with its tiny steering wheel set below the dials, but with more carbonfibre effect material. Overall it's a nice interior, very futuristic-looking, but the hard plastic used for the door bins and under the armrest stick out on a £50,000 car.

Peugeot 508 Sport Engineered: verdict

The 508 has been twice compromised in becoming this Peugeot Sport Engineered model – firstly by adding batteries and electric motors, and then again by giving it a performance focus.

What makes this car stand out against rival performance PHEVs is the fact it gives away very little in terms of outright practicality. The boot capacity is the same as a non-plug-in Pug at 487 litres, and despite being way more fun and accomplished to drive than the standard 508, it's barely any less comfortable day-to-day.

Yes, an old-school straight-six would be a more evocative powerplant, but the ability to drive emissions-free and the overall improvement in fuel economy in this 508 goes a long way to addressing that balance. It's an odd niche, but one that deserves plugging.

(carmagazine.co.uk)

Published in Peugeot
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