The verdict: The 2022 Hyundai Kona’s tidy dimensions make it city-friendly, while available all-wheel drive and decent cargo space make it a true SUV.

Versus the competition: The Kona’s engaging road manners make it more fun to drive than many in this class, but a tight backseat and small cargo area make it one of the smallest you can buy.

The 2022 Hyundai Kona was updated with more dramatic exterior styling, additional rear legroom, and an updated multimedia system with larger screens. Hyundai has also added a sport-inspired N Line trim with more aggressive styling that uses the Kona’s upgraded turbocharged engine. 

The Kona competes in the ever-growing subcompact SUV class against the likes of the Honda HR-V, Kia Seltos and Subaru Crosstrek.

The Kona has a comfortable ride for a vehicle with such a short wheelbase. The ride is on the firm side, but it lacks the choppiness that can sometimes impact a tiny SUV’s ride quality. Bumps are decently absorbed and excessive body motions kept in check. Overall, it has a taut, controlled feel and a tight turning radius that helps with maneuverability. It’s engaging to drive but not overly sporty, though popping it into Sport mode helps.

The N Line trim also uses this engine, while a forthcoming performance-oriented Kona N will use a turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder good for 276 hp, paired with an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. In the Limited, the 1.6-liter works with a revised version of 2021’s seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. That pair is an upgrade from the base powertrain, a 147-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder mated to a new continuously variable automatic transmission.

The powertrain in the Limited sometimes felt a little Jekyll and Hyde: composed one minute and moody the next. It pounced from a stop, and the quick-shifting — though abrupt — transmission kept things rolling nicely. At a stop, however, the engine felt and sounded rough, with a pronounced idle shudder that gave off an unrefined vibe. Against the competition, however, the Kona smokes the loud, slow Crosstrek (with its base engine) and the HR-V.

It does well when it comes to fuel economy, too. The Kona is rated 30/35/32 mpg city/highway/combined in base front-wheel-drive trim with the standard engine. The turbo 1.6-liter I tested has similar ratings with FWD, at 29/35/32 mpg; AWD brings it down a smidge to 27/32/29 mpg. Those numbers were achievable in real-world testing: I averaged 33 mpg during a 310-mile trip that included mostly highway driving.

The Kia Seltos, which is the Kona’s sibling, has the same powertrains and is rated similarly: 29/35/31 mpg in base FWD trim with the standard engine. The turbo 1.6-liter is available with AWD only and is rated lower, at 25/30/27 mpg. The Subaru Crosstrek’s base engine is also rated lower, at a weak 22/29/25 mpg with standard AWD and a standard manual transmission; opting for the CVT brings it up to 28/33/30 mpg. The Crosstrek’s larger engine is rated 27/34/29 mpg. Lastly, the Honda HR-V is rated 28/34/30 mpg in its base FWD trim.

Hyundai also offers an EV version of the Kona, but there’s a catch: The model, which uses a 201-hp electric motor and has a listed range of 258 miles, is only sold in the 12 states that require increasing sales of zero-emissions vehicles. Of the competitors listed here, it’s the only one with an electric-only variant available anywhere, though the Crosstrek is available as a plug-in hybrid.

Clean Controls, Dull Design

The cabin lacks any sense of style or design, with a black-on-black-on-black theme that just drags on. The highlight of the cabin is Hyundai’s refreshingly simple multimedia and control system, which the Kona thankfully still uses (other newer Hyundai models, such as the Tucson, have largely ditched it for a more complicated, touch-sensitive control system that has drawn our ire). For 2022, the previously standard 7-inch and optional 8-inch touchscreens have been replaced by 8- and 10.25-inch units. Both still have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but the 8-inch unit adds wireless smartphone integration. As in the new Elantra, however, the 10.25-inch display reverts to wired smartphone connections.

I tested the larger screen, which sits high on the dash for good visibility and an easy reach; its large tuning and volume knobs are also handy. The system is easy to use thanks to a straightforward menu structure and a few extra touches, such as a helpful search function. This feature allows you to quickly access settings you’d like to adjust without hunting through menus.

One hiccup, and it’s one I’m used to, is the execution of Android Auto. Apple CarPlay uses the full width of the Kona’s widescreen, but Kona drivers with Android phones (like me!) have to settle for much less. The Android Auto interface displays in a much smaller section of the screen, with a black box taking up the rest of the space to its right.

There’s a setting to enable “split-screen” functionality, but it only displays minimally helpful info, including a compass, time and weather. I hoped it would show something Android Auto-related — like if the map were on the main screen, my audio choice could be on the little extra screen — but this isn’t the case.

Space Constraints

Even with additional rear legroom for 2022, the Kona is still on the smaller side of this class, and it shows when you get inside. With 35.2 inches of rear legroom, it trails the Seltos, HR-V and Crosstrek; the Kona also has a smidge less rear headroom than those competitors.

The backseat is tiny, but that little bit of extra room did help the 2022 Kona do better with car seat accommodation than older versions of the subcompact SUV, though it still didn’t secure top scores in our Car Seat Check.

In terms of cargo space, it again sits at the bottom of the pack. By’s measurements, the Kona has 10.89 cubic feet of space, below the Subaru Crosstrek’s 13 cubic feet and well below the Kia Seltos’ 16.3 cubic feet. It’s not all bad, though: The cargo area is nice and tall, and it has a handy little underfloor storage area to contain smaller things. The front seat also has a decent amount of small-item storage space.

Safety and Value

The 2022 Hyundai Kona starts at  $22,375, and AWD adds $1,500 (prices include destination). It’s roughly the same price as a Honda HR-V and about $1,000 less than a base Kia Seltos  or Subaru Crosstrek, both of which come with AWD standard; the Crosstrek’s base model does, however, use a manual transmission.

The Kona I drove was a Limited AWD trim that cost $31,330. The only extra was a floormat package that cost $155.


The Kona’s price is appealing — and so is its safety features list, which has grown for 2022. The standard automatic emergency braking system with pedestrian detection adds optional cyclist detection for 2022. Hyundai’s lane-centering steering system, called Lane Following Assist, is also standard for ’22, along with  a driver attention monitor and a rear occupant reminder system that alerts you to check the backseat after you’ve parked.

Available features include adaptive cruise control (now with stop-and-go functionality), as well as upgraded blind spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert systems that gain braking intervention if they sense danger when you try to change lanes or back up, respectively.

As this crowded class continues to add models, shoppers are faced with an ever-growing list of choices, but if you’re looking for a small, affordable and fun SUV, the Kona stands out.


Monday, 29 November 2021 07:37


  • Entertaining to drive
  • Spacious rear seats
  • Plenty of standard equipment


  • Rivals are faster...
  • ...and cheaper
  • Interior quality a disappointment

Is the Ford Focus ST any good?

If you’re talking hot hatches, you’ll probably soon start discussing products with a blue oval on their nose. That’s because the Ford Focus ST is the latest in a long line of pumped-up hatches from the brand and one of the most potent. Opt for the 2.3-litre turbocharged petrol engine and you get 280hp and a 0-62mph time of less than 6.0 seconds.

It’s not quite as fast as some rivals, but it’s certainly more practical with oodles of rear seat space, a perfectly usable boot and five doors. If you want even more practicality there’s a versatile estate version and even a diesel for those with an eye on fuel economy.

The regular line-up was joined by an even more focused Edition version late in 2021. This runout model ahead of a major facelift in 2022 gains lighter alloy wheels, uprated suspension and a distinctive shade of blue paint to differentiate it from lesser versions.

The ST doesn’t have an easy time of things, though. It faces stiff competition from the Renaultsport Megane, Volkswagen Golf GTI, BMW 128ti and our current favourite, the Toyota GR Yaris.

2021 Ford Focus ST seats

What’s it like inside?

The scene is set by a pair of part-leather clad Recaro sports seats with six-way power adjustment and a heated ST-specific steering wheel wrapped in perforated leather. The seats hold you tightly in place around corners yet provide good comfort as well, while the heating elements are almost too effective on their hottest setting.

A part-metal gearlever, some contrast stitching and ST branded floormats finish off the sporty makeover and there’s plenty of equipment including dual-zone climate control and a B&O stereo. Infotainment is taken care of by the same touchscreen infotainment system that proves easy to navigate if a bit basic-looking.

 2021 Ford Focus ST dash

A digital driver’s display is standard, but isn’t as customisable as the screen in a Golf GTI although the addition of a head up display is a nice touch. It’s easy to read and projects your speed and other information clearly into your line of sight.

The rest of the interior is familiar Focus, with quality proving passable but by no means opulent and plenty of space for passengers. Those in the back get more leg room than in a Golf GTI and certainly a GR Yaris, and the boot isn’t bad, either. If you want more information about the interior, infotainment and practicality, take a look at our main Ford Focus review.

2021 Ford Focus ST rear cornering

What’s it like to drive?

Two engines are on offer, a 2.3-litre petrol with 280hp and a 2.0-litre diesel with a far tamer 190hp. The former sprints from 0-62mpg in 5.7 seconds with a six-speed manual or 6.0 seconds dead with the optional seven-speed automatic gearbox. The latter takes a yawning 7.6 seconds and is only available with the manual.

We’d recommend sticking to the six-speed manual as the automatic isn’t as sharp as those found in the Golf GTI and Cupra Leon. Besides, the manual ‘box is enjoyable to use and helps you get the most out of the potent petrol engine. Sure, you can leave the engine in a high gear and feel it pull happily from less than 1500rpm, but it does its best work over 3000rpm. 

Yes, there are rivals that feel faster still, but it’s unlikely you’ll feel short changed by the way it pushes you into your seat. The noise is a bit disappointing, even with the sports exhausts popping and banging in the sportier modes.

The diesel is certainly the more economical option and has plenty of shove from low revs, but it doesn’t really feel all that fast and doesn’t allow you to make the most of the car’s agile handling. This option is due to be dropped with the introduction of the updated 2022 Focus.

The ST is great fun to drive, combining taut body control, sharp steering response and plenty of grip – all while maintaining a comfortable ride quality. The 2.3-litre petrol gets a limited slip differential as standard which boosts traction especially when exiting corners. It helps really pin the nose to the road so you can make the most of the power. It does mean the steering wheel writhes in your hands a little when you accelerate, but it’s easily controlled.

2021 Ford Focus ST front

You don’t have to drive very far in the ST before you find yourself building a rhythm down your favourite road, as a result. Think of the ST as more of a Volkswagen Golf Clubsport rival, rather than a Golf GTI– a performance hatchback that’s a little more focused on agility and grip than everyday comfort. It’s certainly more playful than both, tucking its nose into bends more keenly and proving happier to slide its tail if you like that sort of thing. A Megane RS is even more of a hooligan, though.

Performance Pack models add adaptive suspension that gets stiffer as you move from Normal to Sport then Track drive mode, giving even more breadth to the ST’s abilities. It’s certainly comfier in Normal mode although Track is too firm for the road. We also appreciated the rev matching function which makes for smoother shifts when selecting a lower gear.

There’s also a Focus ST Edition which you can tell by its unique black lightweight alloy wheels and distinctive light blue paint with a black roof. You also get motorsport-style coilover suspension that’s lower and stiffer. You can adjust it if you’ve got a set of spanners, but the standard settings provide a great compromise.

It’s certainly firmer than a normal ST, yet the uprated suspension controls body movements exceptionally well even on truly awful roads. It also makes the ST feel even more agile and entertaining and the expense of a little everyday comfort. If you’re a keen driver, it’s the one to have.

2021 Ford Focus ST rear

Should you buy one?

If driving thrills are at the top of your list of priorities but you still need a thoroughly practical car, the Ford Focus ST is well worth a look. It’s far more spacious than the GR Yaris and beats even the Golf GTI and Megane RS for rear seat space.

However, the Golf is a little classier inside, the Megane even more exciting to drive and the Yaris the ultimate hot hatch if space isn’t a concern.

What we like

The Focus’ agile handling and crisp manual gearbox make it a joy to drive, while the suspension is soft enough for day to day use if you avoid Edition models. Plentiful rear seat space and plenty of standard equipment also appeal.

What we don't like

All versions are rather pricey and the interior feels a bit low-rent especially compared to premium-badged rivals like the BMW 128ti.


Saturday, 27 November 2021 05:14

New Volkswagen ID.4 GTX 2021 review

VW ID.4 EV gets another electric motor and four-wheel drive in hot GTX form

It wouldn’t have been right for Volkswagen to use the illustrious GTI badge on its new range of electric performance cars. That’s not to say the ID.4 GTX isn’t fun in its own right, it just lacks the character of its petrol-powered forebears. It’s expensive, too; while a rear-wheel drive Ford Mustang Mach-E is better to drive and almost as fast. There is some work to be done on making the GTX nameplate as iconic as GTI, then – but if anyone can do it, VW can.

Volkswagen's world-famous GTI badge turned 45 this year. Celebrated since 1976 and having featured on a string of memorable performance Golfs, for many, its three letters define the hot hatchback genre.

But now VW is embarking on a new era – an era for the electric generation. All future Volkswagen EVs will feature the ID. badge; we’ve already seen the ID.3, ID.4 and ID.5, and there are electric saloons, superminis, and even MPVs on the way. 

Of course, in addition to the various bodystyles, Volkswagen also has a range of GTI-inspired electric performance models in the works. Not to be confused with their petrol siblings, these EVs will all use the GTX name – starting with this, the ID.4 GTX.

Building on the standard ID.4 electric SUV, the GTX gets an extra motor on the front axle, boosting total power to a not inconsequential 295bhp. The result is 0-62mph in 6.2 seconds and a top speed pegged at 112mph.

That last figure is significantly down on the capabilities of the current Golf GTI. Not that it’ll matter to prospective buyers – spend much time hovering at or above the national speed limit and you’ll see the projected 301-mile range plummet. During our time with the car on a mixture of rural, motorway and urban roads, we were seeing 220-230 miles on a charge.

Yet the big question isn’t how far it’ll go before the batteries run flat – rather whether or not it captures any of the GTI magic that Volkswagen has become so famous for. 

The short answer is no. The GTX isn’t quite as agile as a Ford Mustang Mach-E, but that’s not to say it’s sloppy. The ID.4 offers adequate (if not spellbinding) performance, as well as decent-enough body control. The steering, if lacking a little in feel, appears weightier than on the standard car and is perfectly quick and direct. The brakes are up to the task of stopping this 2.2-tonne SUV, too – as you would hope.

Traction is also on point, allowing you to use that slug of torque to power out of tight corners with confidence. Our car was fitted with optional adaptive dampers, but we ended up leaving them in their default setting – in Comfort mode the GTX felt composed, whereas Sport gave the car an unsettled, bouncier ride. It’s still more comfortable than a Mach-E, though.

We may bemoan synthesised sound generators in diesel SUVs, but ultimately, with no soundtrack to enjoy in the ID.4, you’re left feeling somewhat detached from the driving experience. That’s ideal on the motorway, or indeed when you’re pootling from A to B without a schedule to keep or deadline to meet, but when you’re alone in the car and want to drive like the seat of your pants is on fire, the ID.4 GTX simply isn’t that engaging. 

There’s some work to be done on making the GTX badge fit in a driver’s car context, then, but the rest of the package is as complete as you’d expect. Practicality is excellent – the 543-litre boot is unchanged from the standard ID.4, and there’s space under the floor to store the charge cable. Note: a three-pin charger is a £180 option.

The cabin is roomy too, while quality takes a jump in the right direction thanks to new fabrics on the dashboard. The GTX-branded seats are supportive and comfortable; the only other tell-tale sign that this is the range flagship comes courtesy of the small badge and red flash at the base of the steering wheel.

Prices are high. The ID.4 GTX starts from £48,525 but for that you get 20-inch wheels, a 12-inch infotainment system with nav, plus wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as a head-up display, keyless entry and Matrix LED lights. Above this sits the GTX Max, adding a panoramic glass roof, three-zone climate control, adaptive dampers and a heat pump for around £7,000 more.

That infotainment system is still a bit laggy, and it’s not the most intuitive set-up to use. The temperature sliders are fiddly too, and Volkswagen still refuses to light them at night – making them impossible to operate after dark. The instrument cluster on the other hand is simple but effective, de-cluttered by removing surplus information; the car’s speed sits front and centre, just as it should.

Model:  Volkswagen ID.4 GTX
Engine: 77kWh battery, two electric motors
Power/torque: 295bhp/310Nm
Transmission:  Single-speed auto, four-wheel drive
0-62mph:  6.2 seconds
Top speed:  112mph
Range/Efficiency:  301 miles, 3.7mi/kWh (WLTP)
On sale:  Now
Thursday, 25 November 2021 07:14

Lexus NX SUV review

New Lexus SUV is a huge upgrade over its predecessor


  • Comfortable and refined to drive
  • Good electric range
  • New infotainment long overdue


  • Not exactly exciting to drive
  • Only average practicality
  • Steering wheel controls confusing

Is the Lexus NX any good?

This is the new NX – Lexus’ answer to the likes of the BMW X3, Range Rover Evoque, Audi Q5 and Volvo XC60.

The old car was a big-seller for Lexus and the new model certainly hopes to inspire the same reaction. On paper, all looks promising. It’ll be available as a hybrid or a plug-in hybrid – Lexus’ first – and all models debut the brand’s new interior design, complete with shiny new infotainment.

Lexus says 95% of the car is new compared with its predecessor, but the styling hasn’t changed much in the process. It’s still a striking-looking thing, with a front end dominated by the brand’s signature ‘Spindle’ grille, while the sides and rear feature interesting surfacing. A full-width taillight dominates the tailgate.

Lexus NX rear three quarter
 We can absolutely say that this is a big improvement over the car it replaces – it’s better to drive, higher-tech, but retains Lexus hallmarks like comfort and reliability, backed up by up to 10 years of warranty cover. But is it as good as the competition?

What’s it like inside?

Lexus has given the NX a complete interior redesign, and while some aspects are recognisable from existing Lexus models the overall structure and shape is new and exciting.

The cockpit architecture is based around a concept called ‘Tazuna’ – supposedly mimicking how a horserider can control their steed through a single rein. Luckily, the NX retains a steering wheel and pedals, but it does mean the cabin has a strong driver focus, with controls closely grouped around the driver’s seat and the infotainment angled towards it.

Infotainment has been a stumbling block in Lexus models for at least the last decade thanks to the firm’s insistence on operating it via a joystick or later, a touchpad. We’re pleased to report that the all-new Lexus infotainment system, now fully touchscreen, works a treat.

Lexus NX interior
It’s controlled via a massive 14-inch screen (lower-spec models will have a 9.8-inch screen, but Lexus doesn’t expect to sell too many of those) which is bright, sharp and clear. The interface, though not as immediately intuitive as the system on a BMW X3, is nonetheless easy to navigate through and reasonably responsive.

It’s a vast improvement on what came before and we can’t wait for more Lexus models to feature the new system.

Less nice to use are the new steering wheel controls, which are unmarked and multifunctional – you need to look in the head-up display to figure out what does what, and it felt quite awkward.

Of course, a family SUV can’t just be nice for the driver. The NX has plenty of room in its rear seats and a 545-litre boot – that’s just a little smaller than the competition but it’s in no way cramped. And material quality is peerless all round. This is a very nice place to sit, though we must admit the sports seats in our F-Sport test model were slightly huggy for those who are wider in the withers.

What’s it like to drive?

We tested the plug-in hybrid NX 450h+ model. This uses a 2.5-litre petrol engine paired up to electric motors and a large battery pack sitting under the floor.

The engine and one electric motor drive the front wheels, while a separate motor drives the rears – giving the NX an electric four-wheel drive system.

Lexus NX front tracking

Total system output is 309hp and 227Nm of torque – healthy numbers both, and with the electric motors providing plenty of get-up-and-go from a standstill the NX 450h+ will get from 0-62mph in just 6.3 seconds.

And being a plug-in hybrid, it’ll run as a pure electric vehicle if the batteries are topped up. Lexus claims a 42-mile electric range on mixed roads, or up to 55 miles of purely urban mileage. That’s just slightly better than the Range Rover Evoque PHEV’s 41-mile mixed figure and it’s significantly more than the 34 miles that the BMW X3 xDrive30e can muster.

Charging up takes just two hours and 45 minutes using a home wallbox, and Lexus will provide these free of charge to customers who place an order in 2021.

Running on electric can often display refinement issues – with no engine to drown out wind and road noise it becomes more prominent. That’s no issue with the NX, which remains impressively silent whether the engine’s off or on. Even switching into Sport mode doesn’t make things too raucous.

Don’t think the Lexus NX is a sporty SUV, though. Its focus – even in models covered in ‘F Sport’ branding – is on comfort and ease of driving. The healthy power output isn’t there to tackle a B-road with aplomb, it’s there to make joining a motorway effortless. The handling reflects this, as it’s tidy and precise but far from engaging.

What models and trims are available?

There will be three model grades and several options ‘packs’ to add. The unnamed base-spec car is still very well-equipped – it comes with the smaller 9.8-inch touchscreen, but still gets all-round LED lights, heated front seats, a powered tailgate and 10-speaker stereo.

Lexus NX infotainment
You can add a Premium pack to this with keyless entry, privacy glass, ambient lighting, a wireless phone charger and electric seats, or a Premium Plus pack that gives you larger alloy wheels, digital instruments, seat ventilation and a headlight upgrade, among others.

There’s also a sporty F Sport model which has a styling upgrade with black details and new badging plus adaptive suspension and unique alloys, to which you can add a Takumi pack with a digital rear-view mirror and an upgraded Mark Levinson sound system.

At the top of the range is Takumi spec, which has just about everything already mentioned plus a sunroof, wooden interior inlay, automated parking and another new alloy wheel design.

Safety equipment is a real focus of the NX regardless of model. Every single model comes with adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, road-sign assist and automated high beam. Higher models add front cross traffic alert, lane change assist, blind-spot monitors and automated parking.

There’s also e-latch – electronically actuated door handles which will actually refuse to open if they detect something in their blind spot, aiming to prevent you from opening your door into an unsuspecting cyclist or pedestrian.

Lexus NX e-latch

A final nice touch is that the NX is available in a wide array of real colours – not just monochrome shades.

What else should I know?

The NX is available with Lexus’ ‘Relax’ warranty. That means, as long as you service it at Lexus dealers, you can have up to 10 years and 100,000 miles of cover, and that’s transferable to the next owner. At the moment, that’s the best warranty in the business – and it shows Lexus has total confidence in its cars. Something that’s well deserved, as they often top the charts in reliability surveys.

Running costs with a PHEV depend mostly on your charging behaviour, so the combined WLTP figure of up to 313.9mpg for the 450h+ is a little meaningless. But CO2 emissions as low as 21g/km mean Benefit-in-Kind tax is extremely low, even among similar plug-in hybrids.


Monday, 22 November 2021 06:17

New Kia EV6 AWD review

The RWD version of the Kia EV6 impressed us, but can the AWD model do the same? 


The Kia EV6 is a terrific electric car, but we’re not convinced that it’s worth spending the extra money on this dual-motor version. It’s faster in a straight line but not really any more involving or capable on twistier roads – so you’re left with a model that commands a price premium, while offering reduced range compared with the rear-drive edition. That’s the EV6 we’d go for.

There was a time, not too long ago, when the idea of a Kia costing even £30,000 would have been hard to comprehend. But the Korean brand has matured greatly over the past decade, to the point where there is currently a very healthy order book for its Sorento large SUV – a car that could cost you more than £50k.

There’s a sense of quiet confidence about Kia’s new electric flagship, the EV6, breaking the same price barrier. EVs still cost more than their combustion-engined counterparts anyway, and the market is also very “green”, with brand equity and image playing a lesser role. Perfect fodder, really, for a company like Kia, complete with the hi-tech backing of the Hyundai group.

We were pretty impressed with the EV6 when we tried it in rear-wheel-drive form in the UK earlier this autumn. Now it’s time to decide whether it’s worth spending the extra money (not far off £10,000 more, in fact) for more power and performance with the four-wheel-drive variant.

The EV6, of course, sits on E-GMP, the same bespoke pure-electric platform as the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Genesis’s forthcoming GV60. That means 800V electrics, which equates to ultra-fast charging; there’s some debate about the actual speed, but all you really need to know is that when it’s hooked up to a 350kW charger, the EV6 can replenish 80 per cent of its 77.4kWh usable battery in just 18 minutes. We’d struggle to drink a nuclear Costa latte coffee in that amount of time.

The raw stats, of course, are shared with the rear-drive EV6. But this GT-Line S edition has a second electric motor on the front axle, boosting the total power and torque figures from 226bhp and 350Nm to a meaty 321bhp and 605Nm. The top speed remains at 114mph, but the 0-62mph time is now a punchy 5.2 seconds, a gain of more than two seconds over the rear-wheel-drive edition.

You can feel the difference, too; there’s still not the sledgehammer delivery of force that you get in a Porsche Taycan; that will presumably come with a hilarious-sounding, 577bhp version of the EV6 that’s due in 2022. But there is more urgency about the full-size, five-seat crossover in this format; let’s call it genuine shove to match the instant electric torque delivery.


In a straight line, then, the GT-Line S AWD will certainly deliver that all-electric one-upmanship at traffic lights. Around the corners, though, the chassis – while still better tied down than the Ioniq 5’s – is rather less happy with the increased potential. The system struggles to cope with the motors’ responses, giving you an inconsistent delivery that makes it hard to drive smoothly.


Elsewhere, the cruising experience is similar to that of the two-wheel-drive version, albeit with a teeny bit more electric whine because, well, you’re closer to the front motor than you are to the rear.

And of course, the addition of that extra unit in a car with the same battery capacity means a reduction in range – from 328 miles down to around 300. Our experience suggests you’ll get north of 290 miles without much compromise in your driving style, though, which is solid. Hyundai-Kia’s battery-management algorithms remain among the best in the market.

Inside, there are a few harder plastics but the overall finish is excellent, and the technology fitted is right up there with the best in class. There’s a pair of 12.3-inch curved displays, accommodating digital instruments and then a slick, responsive infotainment system.

The cabin itself has room for five adults, albeit with slightly reduced headroom in the rear compared with the Ioniq 5 – a trade-off, certainly, for the EV6’s more coupe-esque roofline. The boot capacity is 490 litres – more than enough for a family’s everyday needs – and you can alter the floor height. There’s also a “frunk”, a plastic storage box under the bonnet, but the additional motor cuts its capacity on this model to 20 litres, compared with the 50 litres on offer in the rear-drive edition of the Kia EV.

Model: Kia EV6 GT-Line S 77.4kWh AWD
Price: £51,945
Motor/battery: 2 x e-motor, 77.4kWh
Power/torque: 321bhp/605Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic, four-wheel drive 
0-62mph: 5.2 seconds
Top speed: 114mph
Range: 300 miles
Max charging: 350kW (0-80% in 18min)
On sale: Now

2022 Rolls-Royce Ghost Black Badge First Drive: Going Bump in the Night

The blacked-out Ghost looks great, but its ride quality darkens our mood.

More than any other nameplate, Rolls-Royce promises the best the automotive industry has to offer. There is no doubt the Rolls-Royce Ghost is among the finest sedans you can buy—top honors goes to its larger sibling, the Phantom—but driving the new-for-2022 Black Badge version has us asking an uncomfortable question: Is this really the best Rolls-Royce could do?

Ghosting The Black Badge Treatment

A quick backgrounder on Black Badge: Introduced in 2016, it is primarily a styling exercise most notable for its darkened brightwork, particularly the trademark Rolls-Royce grille and Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament. Black Badge has been an inordinate success for Rolls-Royce, and for 2022 the new-shape Ghost joins the Cullinan, Dawn, and Wraith in offering its own ($43,850) Black Badge package. The kit includes lightweight wheels with carbon-fiber barrels and a beautifully intricate aluminum inlay on the black Bolivar wood trim, as well as more power and a stiffer chassis calibration.

For the record, we love the visuals. The blacked-out chrome looks so good that you wonder why anyone would even consider a Rolls with old-fashioned brightwork. Our $519,000-as-optioned test car was done up in two-tone black and charcoal gray, but we think the murdered-out motif looks equally good when contrasted with bright primary paint colors. Not that it matters what we of the unwashed masses think—Rollers are usually custom-ordered, -colored, and -trimmed to suit the desires of their HNWI buyers—or "clients," as Rolls prefers to call these moneyed individuals. These are not folks who buy off the rack.

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Not All Improvements Are Improvements

But MotorTrend is a car publication, and driving dynamics are our specialty—and as dreamy as the Black Badge Ghost looks, the way it goes down the road gives us some pause. After some time behind the wheel in San Diego, we found the Black Badge setup neither transforms the Ghost into something completely different, nor does it feel quite right for a Rolls-Royce. If we were paying half-a-mil for one of these bespoke babies, that wouldn't make us happy.

Let's cover the changes, then we'll talk about how they impact the Ghost's driving experience. There's a power bump for the 6.7-liter twin-turbo V-12; Black Badge models produce 592 horsepower and 664 lb-ft, up 29 horsepower and 37 lb-ft from the regular (what Rolls-Royce now refers to as "Silver Badge") Ghost. The transmission is tuned to shift quicker when the throttle is nearly wide open. Chassis changes comprise a tightening of the steering, firmer air spring tuning and roll control, and a stiffer feel and reduced travel for the brake pedal. These are all software changes, by the way; the mechanical components are identical.

More Power—But Will You Notice?

We'll start with the powertrain. The Silver Badge Ghost is already quick—we've clocked it from 0-60 mph in 4.2 seconds—and we don't know that the Black Badge car's extra power will be detectable by the unaided human posterior. We estimate it could pick up a tenth of a second in our instrumented testing, but that could just as easily be lost when we round off the numbers. No matter; given the choice, we will always, always, always take more power, no matter how incremental the objective performance changes.

As for the quicker shifts, we could barely detect the difference. That's because the shifts only sharpen up near full throttle, and because on public roads you can only WOT a Ghost for a few seconds before getting into expensive-ticket territory. In other words, this is not exactly a benefit you get to enjoy on a regular basis.

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Better Brakes And Less Roll…

The chassis changes were far more noticeable. The brake does have a slightly stronger bite, and yet it is still gentle, never abrupt. The steering is noticeably heavier, though not objectionably so—the Silver Badge Ghost's steering is just about one-finger-light, and we welcomed the extra heft in the Black Badge's wheel. That said, with no change to the Ghost's tires or physical steering gear, the heavier steering highlights the Ghost's lack of feedback from the front wheels.

Body roll is also noticeably reduced, though it's worth noting that for all its mass and its goose-down-soft ride, the Silver Badge Ghost doesn't lean much either; in the Black Badge car, little shrinks to naught. It's a worthwhile improvement; for those who like the feedback that body lean provides, it might be missed.

… But It's The Ride That's The Problem

The ride quality gave us the most pause. The Black Badge Ghost still floats like a '70s-era Cadillac over big bumps, but now there's a near-constant vibration, the soft pitter-patter of not-quite-perfect pavement getting passed up to the seats. In a Rolls Royce, it's … well, it's weird, that's what it is. The magic of the Silver Badge Ghost is that it gives the sensation that all roads are paved with glass. The Black Badge car loses that ability to smooth out the surface beneath its tires, and with it dulls that Rolls-Royce enchantment.

All this might be acceptable if it transformed the Ghost into a world-class handler, something akin to the Bentley Flying Spur Speed—which, to be honest, is what we hoped for. But it doesn't. The Silver Badge Ghost is stable and secure in high-speed turns, though rather clumsy on smaller, tighter roads. The Black Badge car is nominally better, but still feels awkward and out of place, as if it's trying to run in dress shoes that are too tight.

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After several miles both speedy and serene in the Black Badge Ghost, we switched over to a Silver Badge car. Light and isolated, its driving characteristics felt much more in line with the car as a whole. It's a wafter, not a runner.

Don't Like How The Black Badge Ghost Drives? Too Bad

Our admittedly relatively minor complaints might be less justified if you could switch these stiffer settings on and off at will, but that's not possible. Rolls-Royce makes much of the fact there is no Sport button. "Your right foot is the sport button," company reps said to us. But it isn't, because nothing you do with the accelerator affects the chassis settings. Opt for the Black Badge and you, the client, are stuck with a ride that is—well, if not exactly rough, then at least unbecoming of a Rolls-Royce.

Rolls-Royce will give you any shade of paint you desire, any color of leather, any interior trim you like. But if you want the Black Badge model, you cannot opt out of the Black Badge chassis changes. It's strange that such a constraint is forced upon buyers by a marque that is all about furnishing its clients with bespoke automobiles.

In case you get the wrong idea here, the fact is the Black Badge Ghost is nothing like a poor-driving car. Far from it, and it's still very much a Rolls, stately and dignified. It's simply trying to be something it isn't.

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What Should Rolls-Royce Have Done With The Black Badge Ghost?

What makes this frustrating is that the answer to the question we posed—is this the best Rolls-Royce could do?—has to be "no." Why didn't it do a properly cohesive chassis revision, upgrading the hardware as well as the software, and giving the Black Badge Ghost a driving experience that is more cohesive and communicative? Let's not forget people pay nearly $44,000 for this upgrade, and while we're sure darkened chrome bits and carbon-fiber wheel barrels are expensive, surely there must be some change left over for hardware upgrades.

Rolls-Royce has the might of the BMW organization behind it, a company not exactly lacking in chassis-tuning expertise. If it really wanted to, we have no doubt Rolls could have made a Bentley Flying Spur Speed beater without dulling its Rolls-Royce-ness. Instead, it made but a few software changes.

At the very least, Rolls could have fitted a Sport button to turn these so-called dynamic improvements off—or, if we're going to blue-sky a little, maybe even select them individually. Doesn't it strike you as interesting that a $33,500 Hyundai Veloster N has adaptive suspension, steering, powertrain, and exhaust with full custom programming, and a $43,850 option package applied to a six-figure car does not?

We can't argue with the success of the Black Badge models, which now comprise 37 percent of Rolls-Royce sales worldwide and bring younger buyers into the fold. And the company might argue that our opinion of the Black Badge chassis changes doesn't matter, as most buyers choose Black Badge models for the way they look more than the way they drive.

Still, could anyone from the Rolls-Royce chassis engineering team look a client in the eye and say—truthfully—that for for half a million dollars, this is absolutely the best it could do? The Black Badge Ghost's driving experience is flawed, not bad. That Rolls-Royce could do better means paying customers deserve better.


As Audi's version of the Porsche Taycan, the new RS e-tron GT is an exciting, Tesla-chasing ride.

The sound Audi should have used—and the one playing in my head right before hitting the accelerator—is the adrenaline-juicing click, click, click of a roller coaster on an upward climb. Flooring an e-tron GT produces the same lung-flattening rush of acceleration as a coaster in freefall.

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 HIGHS: Sub-three-second runs to 60 mph, decent range, advanced chassis tech, unabashedly modern design.

The e-tron GT has a twin at the Porsche dealer—the e-tron shares its platform, 800-volt electrical architecture, front and rear electric motors, two-speed automatic transmission at the rear axle, air springs, and all-wheel steering with the Porsche Taycan. While the Taycan offers a single-motor, rear-wheel-drive setup as well as the dual-motor-driven AWD 4S, Turbo, Turbo S, and Cross Turismo, at least for now, the all-wheel-drive GT comes two ways: the 522-hp e-tron GT and the 637-hp RS e-tron GT. Accessing all of those horses requires launch control, and then you only get the power for 2.5 seconds.

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The e-tron GT and RS's range figures will likely mean more to buyers. Per the EPA, the GT is good for 238 miles and the RS is rated at 232. Our testing of the RS revealed 240 miles of range, with our example averaging 71 MPGe overall and 83 MPGe on our 75-mph highway test, the latter result just beating its combined federal rating by 1 MPGe. Again, those are decent figures, but not the kind that leads to bragging among big-dollar EVs, especially if the conversation turns to Teslas.

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LOWS: Performance trails comparably fast four-doors, unusually high noise levels for an EV, steep six-figure price.

On the road, the RS GT tours grandly. It hums and hauls so smoothly that the big numbers on the speedometer readout might come as a surprise. The low, hefty weight of electric cars—our RS test car tipped the scales at 5171 pounds—works in their favor when it comes to stable cornering, and 590 electric horses are more than enough to reshape your eyeballs. The GT's biggest challenges come from not having the longest range and not being the quickest or flashiest thrill ride in the park.

Audi gets points for using the steering-wheel paddles to control regenerative braking. It's just the sort of setting you might want to change on the fly, say, heading down a steep hill or coasting along in highway traffic, and being able to adjust it without having to dive into a settings menu is smart. The middle setting will feel the most familiar to gas-engine aficionados, and the max regen is almost but not quite aggressive enough to allow for one-pedal driving. The RS offers rear-wheel steering as an option. When fitted, the rear wheels also turn in phase with the fronts to improve high-speed stability; below 30 mph, the rears turn opposite to tighten maneuverability. Steering efforts are light, almost too light at slow speeds if the car is equipped with optional Power Steering Plus, which just boosts the steering assist to feathery at low speed. But once you get used to it, you'll be flipping tight U-turns just for the fun of it.

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Fitted with 21-inch Goodyear Eagle Asymmetric 5 summer tires, the RS's 157-foot stop from 70 mph is in the hunt with the figures of other hot four-doors. But its 0.93 g of grip on the skidpad is rather modest for a modern sports sedan—electric or otherwise—some of which have posted well over 1.00 g of stick in our testing.

Audi tilts the GT's controls toward the driver, and everything you need is within easy reach. EVs have conditioned us to expect tech-focused or even minimalist interiors. The GT has a crisp digital display in front of the driver and a 10.1-inch touchscreen in the middle of the instrument panel, but there are—gasp—buttons for the climate control.

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The GT does play into another electric-car expectation, however, that of the environmentally conscious and possibly vegan buyer. Leather-free interiors and recycled materials come standard, but if you want to sit on cow hides you can order up a less vegan-friendly version. Whether your seats were once alive or never alive, the GT supposedly seats five; just be sure to call shotgun. No one will enjoy the middle seat in the back. Legroom for the outboard rear seats is excellent thanks to cutouts in the battery, which mean deeper pockets for your tootsies. Headroom isn't as generous, as you pay for the stylish sweep of the roof with tiny back windows and an encroaching C-pillar. Somewhat surprisingly, the 71 decibels of sound in the RS at 70 mph are several decibels greater than we've experienced in comparable EVs, and it's even a touch louder than we've measured in a fire-breathing RS7.
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Audi's brave new EVs start at $103,445 for the e-tron GT, a price that lines up with the Taycan 4S, which needs 3.4 seconds to eclipse 60 mph. Bring a $100,690 check to the Tesla store and you'll drive away in the quicker Model S. The RS version, with its carbon-fiber roof and extra power, starts at $143,445. That money would put you into an 1100-hp Model S Plaid+ AWD, which is likely to be the quickest EV we'll have tested once we get our hands on one. Complete with the comprehensive $20,350 Year One package, our RS GT carried a hefty $164,390 as-tested price.

Sizewise, the e-tron is about same length as an A7, but it's dramatically lower and wider. The wide rear end and taillights look particularly great, but in front, the wide crossbar through the grille visually weighs down the front end. Overall, the e-tron GT reads elegant and muscular. It's not a game changer coming after the Taycan or even the still-powerful grandfather of the segment, the Model S, but it's quite a ride.


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