Displaying items by tag: SUV

The Lyriq electric SUV and Celestiq electric sedan are central to Cadillac’s EV charge.

The Lyriq will be followed by the Celestiq, a limolike four-door sedan that will take over as Cadillac's flagship. The interior is intended to coddle chauffeur-driven passengers in the second row under a transparent, four-quadrant glass roof. Up front, a large dashboard screen stretches the width of the cabin. It will feature all-wheel drive, a hatchback cargo opening, and four-wheel steering.

WHY IT MATTERS: General Motors wants Cadillac to lead its EV push, so every one of the brand's new models moving forward will be electric. That starts with the Lyriq, followed by the Celestiq sedan, the Optiq and Symboliq SUVs, another sedan/coupe, and an electric version of the Escalade full-size SUV. The Lyriq sets the styling tone for the lineup.

2023 Cadillac Lyriq 8 

PLATFORM AND POWERTRAIN: The Cadillac Lyriq will use the same BEV3 architecture and Ultium battery system as the 2022 GMC Hummer EV pickup. The battery cells are packaged as modules to allow the creation of vehicles of any size or shape. GM is building a new Ultium battery plant in Tennessee to supply the Lyriq, which uses a 12-module, 100-kWh pack versus the Hummer's 24 modules. Future electric SUVs for the Chevrolet and Buick brands will share a similar layout. The Celestiq is more of a one-off vehicle and a surprise addition to the portfolio. It will have at least two motors, and the long body provides a lot of underfloor space for energy storage. It will be able to fast-charge at 800 volts and likely provide at least 300 miles of range per charge.

ESTIMATED PRICE: The Lyriq starts at $59,990, and the Celestiq is expected to command at least $200,000.

EXPECTED ON-SALE DATE: Lyriq, Q1 2022; Celestiq, as early as 2023.


Published in Cadillac
Tuesday, 22 June 2021 06:06

Renault Arkana review

A well-priced and good-to-drive Coupe/SUV crossover

Is the Renault Arkana any good?
This is the latest addition to the Renault range. It's a new SUV/coupe crossover – currently the biggest it offers in the UK – and it's a direct rival for the Parkers car of the year-winning Toyota C-HR as well as the innovative Citroen C4 and Mazda CX-30. We've driven a European-spec left-hand drive version for early impressions.

The Arkana is usefully on point right now – it's exclusively a hybrid, and comes in front-wheel drive form only. It's the first coupe-styled SUV from Renault, it arrives in the UK in late August, and is priced from £25,300, making it an affordable alternative to its bigger-selling rivals.

Most importantly, the Renault Arkana aims to offer a mix of style, practicality and refinement in a value-for-money package. The early signs are that it's a good-value and stylish car with appeal.

What's it like inside?
The cabin quality is intended to be premium. Certainly, Renault has massively upped its game in this area recently – the interiors of the current Clio and Captur are very modern, stylish and clever. Our test Arkana was a pre-production model, in not-quite UK spec, so it wouldn't be fair to pass comment on the details, but there's nothing radical or innovative going on with the cabin architecture.

There are a lot of physical switches, which dates the cabin, but for many people will actually be a boon, meaning you won't be over-using the touchscreen.

This is a stylish car, but also very much aimed at families, so it needs to look more coupe-like from the outside than it feels from the inside. And it does. The curve of the roof hasn't resulted in tiny windows for the rear passengers, and unlike the Toyota C-HR it's bright and airy in the back.

Rear passengers get slightly more width than those in the front. There are three seats in the back, although a full-grown adults wouldn't enjoy spending an extended time there. It's better to treat the Arkana as a four-seater, and use the wide, comfortable central armrest in the back. Rear legroom is adequate, and headroom will only be an issue for over-six-footers.

The rear seat splits 60:40, and folds flat to increase boot size from a decent 480 litres for the E-Tech hybrid (513 for the TCe mild hybrid) to a handy 1,263 (1,296), although the angle of the hatch will rule out boxier loads.

What's it like to drive?
The Arkana's performance won't set the world on fire, but it's very smooth and refined, which is what you're looking for from a hybrid. Acceleration is leisurely, with a 0-62mph time of 10.8 seconds, while the 108mph maximum speed is more than enough for a family car in this class.

A battery sits under the rear seats and powers an electric motor that's attached to the 1.6-litre petrol engine up front, supplemented by a starter-generator, much as you get in a mild hybrid. Between them they muster a total of 140hp, and it starts up in EV mode.

It sits on the same platform as the Clio and Captur, which are both excellent cars to drive. Increasing its size has not harmed the handling or ride quality one jot. It corners willingly and soaks up most bumps unobtrusively, helped by comfortable seats.

On all but entry-level models you get drive modes play with, but since Pure seems a little sluggish and Sport a bit sudden, you're best off sticking with Hybrid, which provides a responsive set-up and deploys whichever permutation of electric, petrol and mixed power sources is best for any given situation.

Don't be fooled by the RS Line trim, which is purely cosmetic. The on-paper figures are modest and correspond closely with the undramatic sensation of driving the Arkana.

The E-Tech's automatic transmission system doesn't have a manual shift option. Instead, it just gets on with delivering power to the front wheels without drawing attention to itself or requiring any driver input.

The other version, the TCe 140 mild hybrid, has only a small extra battery under the front seats, which can store surplus energy directed to it by the 12-volt starter-generator attached to the 1.3-litre petrol engine. It can't drive on electric power only – it's there to help the petrol engine and give smooth stop-start operation. It's the lighter and quicker of the two cars: 140hp, 9.8sec to 62mph and a top speed of 127mph.

What models and trims are available?
There are three spec levels, all available with either powertrain: Iconic, S Edition and RS Line. All look and feel like good value-for-money cars. The performance isn't going to get anyone excited, but if your priorities are style, practicality and a good smattering of convenience and comfort features, then you're looking in the right place.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity is standard. All models get Active Emergency Braking System, Traffic Sign Recognition, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assist and cruise control. Lighting is all-LED. Options include an opening sunroof, leather upholstery, black roof and adaptive cruise control.

The middle-ranking S Edition has better infotainment than the entry-level Iconic, with the touchscreen up from 7.0 to 9.3 inches, bigger wheels – up from 17 to 18 inches – and various design changes. RS Line trim has different 18-inch wheels and more significant exterior changes, including a different front bumper and grille.

What else should I know?
The sleek shape isn't just about the looks. Renault says that the Arkana is about 25% more aerodynamic than a traditional SUV, which helps with economy and refinement.

Renault expects the E-Tech hybrid to be the big seller in the range. This system – as already seen on the Clio, Captur and Megane – uses energy-recovery know-how from the company's F1 team. The aim is seamless transition between electric, hybrid and petrol.

Renault Arkana verdict

Should you buy one?
The Renault Arkana might seem rather ordinary, even old-fashioned these days, considering the form is committed to launching 14 E-Tech hybrid and electric models by 2025. But looking at it in a more positive light, the Arkana is a proper car, adopting the SUV/coupe style that's a proven success for other car makers.

The Arkana uses tried-and-trusted technology that makes it capable and good to drive. More radical cars, with a higher degree of electrification, are available from Renault and elsewhere, if that's what you want, but for those who want a contemporary-looking car, and don't want to go electric, this is an appealing choice.

Right now, this is a smart, practical, enjoyable and decent-value new car that's going to be offered at an appealing cash price.


Published in Renault
Wednesday, 16 June 2021 06:27

New Volkswagen T-Cross Black Edition 2021 review

The small Volkswagen T-Cross SUV turns on the style in new Black Edition trim


Black Edition trim is a useful update to the T-Cross line-up, adding some additional styling touches for not much extra. It’s a solid small SUV with some good tech – although we wish more of it was standard. However, we can’t fault the excellent powertrain when it comes to refinement and performance, while flexibility, practicality and efficiency are sound, too.

To keep its T-Cross compact SUV feeling fresh in an incredibly crowded class, Volkswagen has updated the range, adding new trims – including an Active model – and this, the T-Cross Black Edition.

It’s identical to the rest of the range mechanically, available with the same 1.0 TSI turbo petrol in two power outputs (though not the range-topping 1.5 TSI), and either manual or dual-clutch automatic gearboxes, depending on which version you go for.

However, image is important in this class, and Black Edition trim – as its name suggests – adds some key visual extras, including 17-inch black diamond-turned alloys, black door mirrors and some dark tinted windows, plus some extra kit over the SE model it’s otherwise based on, including full LED headlights and all-round parking sensors.

The 108bhp 1.0-litre TSI 110 we’re testing will be a big seller, not least because it comes with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, whereas the lower-powered 94bhp model makes do with a five-speed transmission.

It’s an extremely refined engine as it is, but this extra gear – plus a useful 200Nm of torque – helps cruising refinement. The TSI 110 unit pulls smoothly and in a linear way; there’s not much turbo lag, just a smooth slug of torque that gets the T-Cross moving fairly swiftly and without any fuss from under the bonnet. The 0-62mph sprint takes 10.8 seconds, but it’s the flexibility that makes this a pleasing small SUV to use.

It’s coupled to good ride quality that only starts to become ruffled on bad country roads at mid speeds – it’s actually better the faster you go on this type of tarmac. Otherwise, the T-Cross is direct and agile enough to drive, with light steering and plenty of composure that means you can drive it faster than you might think.

Not that many owners will do this, and in everyday driving the T-Cross is a strong all-rounder. There’s a fair level of space in the rear of the cabin and a 455-litre boot, so small families shouldn’t feel the need for more space.

A sliding rear bench means you can prioritise either rear legroom or luggage space, so there’s a good level of flexibility. Along with the extra design touches here it shows that VW knows how small SUV buyers use their cars, offering an extra element of usability to help fit with the lifestyle crowd. It’s just as much a small family car as well, though, and we’d say that it offers a decent amount of practicality for most buyers in this class.

There’s just enough standard kit, too, given our test car’s £21,760 starting price. On top of the features mentioned above, Black Edition models benefit from adaptive cruise control, pedestrian detection with autonomous emergency braking, plus lane assist and blind-spot detection, as well as manual air-conditioning.

An eight-inch touchscreen infotainment set-up with wireless Apple CarPlay and (wired) Android Auto connectivity is included too. However, it’s a shame that VW charges £385 for its 10.3-inch Digital Cockpit Pro dash panel. Built-in sat-nav also costs £860, but it’s an extra we’d do without, given that many buyers will connect their smartphone anyway.

The infotainment works well, with the kind of snappy responses and sharp graphics on the main screen that we’ve come to expect from VW. The optional digital dash could still offer a higher resolution, though.

With a range of bright exterior colours to choose from, you can make your T-Cross stand out – or if you’d prefer to blend in, then there are darker hues, too.

Quality is fine, but nothing special and there are better small SUVs on sale when it comes to materials and finishes inside. But despite VW’s cost cutting in some areas, the T-Cross still feels solid enough at this price.

Its efficiency contributes towards its ability as an all-rounder as well, with WLTP-tested economy of 49.6mpg combined. This is the same as the less powerful 94bhp version, while the TSI 110 model’s 130g/km CO2 output is 1g/km better too, although this doesn’t change company car tax ratings.

Given there’s only a £725 difference in price we’d go for this more powerful model, because there’s no real penalty when it comes to running costs.

Model: Volkswagen T-Cross 1.0 TSI 110 Black Edition 
Price: £21,760
Engine: 1.0-litre 3cyl turbo petrol
Power/torque: 108bhp/200Nm
Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
0-62mph: 10.8 seconds
Top speed: 117mph
Economy: 49.6mpg
CO2: 130g/km
On sale: Now
Published in Volkswagen

When SUVs first arrived on the American scene, they were purpose-built, off-road adventure and utility vehicles. They weren’t luxurious and they weren’t comfortable; they were work wagons used by forest rangers and farmers. Somewhere along the way, they became eight-seat family vehicles, replacing the station wagon and minivan in most driveways. But the trend we’ve spotted for the 2020s seems to be an effort by automakers to recapture some semblance of that off-road adventurism after decades of moving toward making them glorified tall wagons.

The latest automaker to do that is Nissan, which has redesigned the latest 2022 Pathfinder three-row to be more rugged, more outdoorsy and slightly more capable in the dirt than its solidly street-oriented predecessor without giving up any of the luxury, safety and connectivity that modern families expect in an SUV. I drove the new ’22 Pathfinder through Southeast Michigan recently to see if Nissan’s moves to butch up the new Pathfinder have paid off.

The Family Resemblance Is Strong
The fourth-generation Pathfinder was a generic blob-shaped thing that bore no family resemblance to the chunky original 1986 model at all. This new fifth-generation model is a complete departure that incorporates some styling cues from the original Pathfinder, such as the forward-swept C-pillar, three-slot grille and overall squared-off, thick body styling. It’s actually a little shorter than the outgoing model, but changes its proportions by being taller and wider.

I have to say it looks much, much better than the last Pathfinder, with definite family resemblance to the latest angular Nissans like the larger Armada and smaller Rogue. The slim headlights taper into the wide and prominent fenders, with the taillights stretching across the rear to again emphasize the Pathfinder’s width. Its geometric looks make the new Pathfinder feel like a larger vehicle than the one it’s replacing, but the overall dimensions don’t change all that much. Suffice it to say, it both looks and feels big — this was not an effort to slim down the SUV, this was an effort to make it look more rugged and aggressive, and it worked well.

It Expects You to Drive Like the Family’s in There
Powering the 2022 Pathfinder is the same 3.5-liter V-6 that’s in the outgoing model — it makes 284 horsepower and 259 pounds-feet of torque, which is unchanged from the previous Pathfinder. What’s new is what that engine is connected to: a conventional nine-speed automatic transmission, replacing the unloved continuously variable automatic transmission in the old Pathfinder. That change is meant to improve the Pathfinder’s off-road ability, its towing durability, its driving dynamics and more — and in most ways, it delivers. It doesn’t sacrifice gas mileage, which is up 1 mpg combined in AWD versions over the 2020 model (the last model year sold). Lower trim levels increased from an EPA-estimated 22 mpg to 23 mpg, and the AWD Platinum is up from 21 to 22 mpg. The combined rating remains 23 mpg for front-drive Pathfinders, but the city/highway distribution has changed slightly to 21/27 mpg city/highway.

Driving the new Pathfinder is best done at a relaxed pace, as if the whole family is on board for a ride and you don’t want kids dropping juice boxes or Grandma to stress any joints. With moderate acceleration, the V-6 is perfectly adequate, the new nine-speed auto-shifts smoothly and calmly, and the whole experience is that of a big, heavy SUV doing what it does best: ferrying the brood to soccer practice or the mall in quiet comfort. The transmission does hunt a lot for its gears, but with nine speeds to play with, this is to be expected — only occasionally does it feel like it’s missing the beat and not keeping up with the driver’s anticipated moves. For example, when coasting down to a stop but then deciding to give it some more power as traffic has cleared from a light, it gets a little confused and might select a gear lower than it needs to. But overall, the powertrain is smooth, refined and perfectly adequate to the task of powering the Pathfinder.

The Pathfinder’s overall feel is of a heavy SUV, however, especially when negotiating tight turns and roundabouts or performing hard acceleration and braking maneuvers. Body movement is pronounced in such situations, squatting hard on its rear haunches under full acceleration, diving noticeably under hard braking and plowing through quick turns with considerable understeer. It doesn’t like being hustled along quickly, lacking the athletic feel that a Ford Explorer has with its tightly controlled body motions and punchy turbocharged engines. Slipping the drive mode selector into Sport mode does improve steering feel and feedback, but it becomes clear to the driver that this is the equivalent of a family minivan, not a sports wagon, and that you (and your passengers) are going to be happiest keeping the Pathfinder at a simmer rather than a full steaming boil.

Comfort and Style Aplenty
But the Pathfinder will happily simmer along all day, with a truly comfortable ride even on high-spec models that have big wheels and low-profile tires. Road noise does make it into the cabin, again thanks to those big wheels and tires, and it’s made even more noticeable by the lack of wind noise to mask it. But the overall serenity of the Pathfinder’s completely redesigned cabin is barely affected by the outside world. The new look inside is excellent, with a modern feel and updated electronics that combine with solid material choices and build quality to create a well-updated cabin.

Seat comfort is good, but we’re still not seeing the “magic” of the so-called Zero Gravity Seats. They just feel like seats — no better or worse than any others, really (except, perhaps, for the aforementioned Explorer, which has seat bottoms that feel too short). There’s noticeably plentiful passenger space, however, with tons of room up front or in the sliding second row, both for width and legroom. The third row in many three-row SUVs is often best used only for children, with a few notable exceptions (like the Volkswagen Atlas and Hyundai Palisade). The additional width that comes with the new 2022 Pathfinder makes the third row here a usable size for adults, as well, especially given the second row’s sliding ability, allowing for passengers in the second and third rows to negotiate available legroom among themselves. Third-row ingress and egress is easy, too, thanks to Nissan’s one-touch EZ Flex Latch and Glide button that slides and tilts the second row, even with child-safety seats attached.

The updated interior electronics are welcome, with an available 9.0-inch touchscreen multimedia system that’s located high on the dash for easy visibility and use. It’s accompanied by an available 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster that provides all sorts of information, some more useful than others, and two different configurations that look slick. There’s also an available 10.8-inch head-up display that puts all the relevant information up in the driver’s sight line but features an oddly offset speedometer readout. Still, everything is clear and easy to read, and after some experimentation with configurations and settings, you’re sure to find a setup that provides all the information you want without having to hunt through menus. As with most new vehicles these days, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard, and Wi-Fi connectivity with wireless charging is available.

About That Ruggedness …
Nissan felt it important to demonstrate that the new Pathfinder is a capable off-roader, as the changes made to amp up its rugged image are more than just cosmetic. That’s why the company booked some time at Holly Oaks ORV Park north of Detroit for a brief romp through the dirt and mud to show off the Pathfinder’s terrain select function.

Rotating the selector through the options to the Mud and Ruts function changes a host of vehicle attributes, while a quick push of the central button engages the automatic hill descent control. And with that, the Pathfinder was off to tackle terrain that it’s unlikely to see in the hands of typical buyers — loose gravel ascents, steep and slippery slopes — which it did without complaint or difficulty, it must be said. We didn’t do any serious rock crawling, but let’s be honest here: Despite the Pathfinder’s looks, this is not a proper off-road machine. It does feature a new clutch that allows for predictive all-wheel drive (no longer waiting for front-wheel slip to be detected before engaging the rears, the computer makes the call before that happens now), but the all-season tires, lack of underbody skid plate protection and no locking transfer case mean this is still a soft-roader, and that’s perfectly fine. You can option up a Pathfinder with accessories that make it a bit more capable, but anyone serious about going further off-road is likely looking at a Nissan Titan pickup in Pro-4X trim instead. Suffice it to say that the Pathfinder will handle rutted dirt roads and family off-grid camping duty just fine thanks to its softer suspension, but you’re not likely to ever see one out overlanding across the Arizona desert.

Nissan has kept the trim levels and pricing for the new Pathfinder simple with four trim levels. Two option packages are available, as well, so finding a Pathfinder that has a specific option you want (like the panoramic moonroof or leather interior) means finding the required trim level. The starting price is $34,560 for a front-wheel-drive S trim, which is roughly $1,400 more than the outgoing 2020 Pathfinder, while a Platinum 4WD rings in at just less than $50,000. That’s a healthy jump over the outgoing model, but it does reflect considerable added standard equipment, the most important of which might be the updated Nissan Safety Shield 360 system that brings automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, blind spot warning, high-beam assist and class exclusive rear automatic braking — that last one being a key feature for a family car, where kids may be running around the vehicle. The Pathfinder also features a driver alertness sensor, rear door alert and rear sonar as standard, with blind spot intervention, lane intervention and traffic sign recognition as optional. Nissan’s latest ProPilot Assist cruise control is also available, which helps steer the vehicle on the highway but doesn’t let you remove your hands from the steering wheel, unlike GM’s Super Cruise system.

So in the end, yes, the new Pathfinder is indeed a bit more rugged and a bit more capable off-road. But honestly, I think the areas that will matter more to its intended buyers are the better interior space, top-notch connectivity, smooth and quiet ride, and its ability to be an even more comfortable and capable family vehicle. The trend toward being more outdoorsy after enduring pandemic lockdowns will match well with the Pathfinder’s new image and abilities, but it’s good to know Nissan hasn’t sacrificed the aforementioned areas in which the Pathfinder needed to be good in favor of new areas where it really didn’t need to go at all.


Published in Nissan
Thursday, 10 June 2021 06:52

Tesla Model X SUV review

"With cutting-edge looks and the technology to back them up, the Model X is one of the most impressive and family-friendly electric cars you can buy"

SUVs and off-roader style cars are selling in bigger numbers than ever before, so it’s hardly surprising that a company with the profile of Tesla should want to move into this fiercely competitive class – and with the Tesla Model X, that’s exactly what it’s done.

The Tesla Model X was the first electric SUV to go on sale in the UK. While it has few direct rivals due to its seven-seat layout and blistering performance, it helped pave the way for several other upmarket electric SUVs, including the Mercedes EQC, Jaguar I-Pace and Audi e-tron.

The Model X is sure to appeal to buyers who want the style and practicality of an SUV combined with an electric powertrain. One thing’s for sure: the Model X definitely draws its fair share of attention.

Despite being around for several years now, the shape of the Model X remains instantly recognisable, with its party-piece ‘Falcon Wing’ rear doors remaining an unusual, show-stopping feature. Expect small crowds to gather whenever they open, as onlookers wait to see whether children or aliens emerge from the futuristic-looking machine. They’re not just a gimmick, either – they allow easy access from the front or rear of the car, opening fully in less space than conventional doors.

Elsewhere, the Model X is just as sleek as its Model S sister, although it shares that car’s strangely blank-looking nose treatment that detracts a little from its visual appeal. Generally, though, the Model X has novelty and a high-tech look in its favour, but we reckon the Volvo XC90 is a more handsome SUV.

Offering definite appeal, though, is the technology under the metal. We’ll get to the vital factors of range and charging time later, because the statistics that grabbed all the headlines for the Tesla Model S related to its sheer power and performance, especially the blisteringly quick Performance version. The Model X Performance model uses the same dual-motor, four-wheel-drive power system and offers outrageous performance of 0-60mph in 2.6 seconds, thanks to the car’s ‘Ludicrous mode’. In April 2020, this performance was enhanced further still with the addition of ‘Cheetah Mode,’ which puts the car into an optimal suspension setting for blisteringly quick standing starts.

That’s much faster than a Range Rover Sport SVR, Porsche Cayenne Turbo or BMW X5 M can manage – in fact it's in the same league as the Ferrari 812 Superfast for acceleration – while carrying up to seven people, two more than any of its ultra-powerful rivals can accommodate.

When you’re not exercising its explosive get-up-and-go, the Model X, like its saloon counterpart, offers a maximum driving range between charges that eclipses what most rivals can reach. Both the Long Range Plus and Performance models use a 100kWh battery, offering claimed range figures of 348 and 340 miles respectively.

Tesla has already announced updates to the Model X lineup for next year, including a new Long Range model capable of an estimated range of 360 miles. Above this, a new triple-motor model called the ‘Plaid’ is also available to order; it can sprint from 0-60mph in 2.5 seconds while managing up to 340 miles of range. According to Tesla, both new models will arrive in the UK towards the end of 2022. It’s worth noting that the models they replace are now no longer available, so there’s effectively a lull in brand new examples of the Tesla Model X arriving in the UK until at least late 2022.

In keeping with its hi-tech power system, the Model X interior is dominated by an enormous portrait-orientated touchscreen that controls much of the plentiful standard equipment, while a TFT display presents vital information to the driver. Motorway strain is alleviated by Tesla’s ‘Autopilot’ semi-autonomous driving system.

Electric power rather suits a car designed around SUV lines, too – the compact nature of the Model X’s battery packs and electric motors mean every inch of interior space can be used, so it’s a very versatile family vehicle. Five adults can stretch out on the two main seating rows, while an additional third row offers plenty of room for two children.

This all adds up to a very compelling package, which it needs to when you look at the list price. Both versions of the Model X aren’t cheap and are now more expensive than ever for two reasons: they no longer qualify for the government’s plug-in car grant (PiGC) and the entry-level Standard Range model, which used to cost from £75,000, was discontinued in 2020. The Long Range Plus model previously started from around £83,000, while the Model X Performance with ‘Ludicrous Mode’ started at around £100,000. They have been replaced by the Long Range and Plaid models, which cost from over £90,000 and £110,000 respectively; a pair of considerable price tags that would see you behind the wheel of some very exotic conventional cars.

However, there’s no forgetting the low daily running costs, the impressive range on a full charge, the tax advantages for company-car users and the sheer sense of occasion found in driving this car. The Model X will be prohibitively expensive for many, but it may just be the most complete electric family transport solution yet devised.

Tesla Model X SUV - MPG, running costs & CO2

Zero emissions make the Tesla Model X very cheap to run

There's no getting around the fact that the Tesla Model X is expensive, whichever version you choose. With prices now starting at well over £90,000 for the entry-level Model X, it is considerably more expensive than most of its established luxury rivals. Combine this with the fact that the Model X no longer qualifies for the government's plug-in car grant, and the cost becomes a factor that holds it back from scoring more highly.

Of course, the Model X’s electric luxury-car status makes it a fairly unique product for the time being at least, so wealthy eco-conscious owners may not be put off by the price. Although it's out of reach of many car buyers, the Model X’s negligible running costs will help balance out the high price for those who choose a Tesla.

Tesla Model X range & charging time
With its long range and absence of any exhaust emissions, the Tesla Model X certainly has what it takes to save money on running costs compared to a conventional petrol or diesel SUV. However, its high purchase price places it out of reach of many motorists.

There’s one type of user for whom the high purchase price of the Model X might not matter – the small percentage of business drivers whose company-car allowance will stretch to the Tesla’s substantially high five-figure (P11D) starting price. If you belong to this rather exclusive club, it’s well worth considering the entry-level Long Range Plus model against premium seven-seat diesel SUVs such as the similarly priced Mercedes GLS 350d or Range Rover TDV6 – if only for the huge saving you’ll make on company-car tax.

A total absence of CO2 emissions means the Model X will cost nothing in Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) company-car tax for 2020/21. This means it’ll cost massively less to run than the aforementioned GLS 350d – the latter’s CO2 figure of over 200g/km places it in the top BiK bracket, attracting the highest company-car tax costs.

Once the purchase cost of the Model X is out of the way, private owners can look forward to some serious savings compared to petrol or diesel SUVs of the same size – most notably a much reduced fuel bill. Electricity is far cheaper than petrol or diesel and all models have an impressive range. This means you’re not limited to short urban trips within dashing distance of a recharging point.

The Long Range Plus and Performance models in the Model X range have the same battery size, but varying power outputs and maximum ranges. The 100kWh battery pack of the Long Range Plus has a 348-mile range but the Performance model manages 340 miles. An overnight charge will cost only a few pounds.

It should be remembered, though, that the car’s actual range will vary between drivers. Tesla admits that range will vary depending on cruising speed, outside temperature and whether your air-conditioning is switched on or off. However, with increasing numbers of fast-charge points appearing at motorway service areas, a mid-journey charge can be scheduled during a lunch stop, making long-haul family road trips a possibility – something not all electric cars can offer. The ever-growing Tesla Supercharger fast-charge network can top up the Model X to 80% within half an hour.

Along with an exemption from VED (road tax), the Model X is also exempt from the annual additional surcharge payable on cars costing more than £40,000.

Perhaps due to high repair costs and the Model X’s brisk performance, all versions occupy insurance group 50, the highest banding there is. This compares to the group 45 rating of diesel Range Rovers, although the Mercedes GLS 350d is also placed in group 50. It’s certainly worth obtaining an insurance quote before you decide to buy.

Tesla offers an impressive warranty for all cars supplied in the UK, although it’s supplied by AXA insurance rather than Tesla itself. It’s a four-year/50,000-mile policy, while the battery and drive units are covered separately with an eight-year/unlimited-mileage warranty. The main warranty can be extended for up to a total of eight years.

Tesla states that its cars require less mechanical servicing than conventional petrol or diesel models, but recommends an inspection every 12,500 miles – or yearly, whichever is the more frequent. Maintenance plans are available to help spread the cost of. Software updates can be performed during scheduled maintenance appointments, or downloaded ‘over the air’ by the car’s on-board internet connection. Tesla suggests that you connect your vehicle to your home’s Wi-Fi network for the fastest possible download time.

Tesla Model X SUV - Engines, drive & performance

If anything belies the idea that electric cars are slow, it’s the Tesla Model X


Despite the fact that it’s a heavy car (weighing in at around 2,300kg), the Model X is satisfying and rewarding to drive on challenging roads. It could never be described as agile, but doesn’t suffer the lumbering, roly-poly feel of most large SUVs. This is thanks to the batteries sitting as low down as possible in the body, which means the Model X has an extremely low centre of gravity, minimising body lean in corners.

As all models use Tesla’s dual-motor, four-wheel-drive configuration, there’s loads of traction on greasy roads or loose surfaces and you can carry a lot of speed through corners without losing confidence. There’s a lot of technology at your disposal to keep the Model X on an even keel, including ‘smart’ air suspension linked to the car’s sat-nav system. This can vary the car’s ride height depending on speed and the kind of surface you’re travelling on.

It’s a shame, then, that the feel from the Model X’s electrically assisted steering is rather unconvincing and artificial – akin to a computer game. Although accurate and controllable, you have to rely on your eyes and ears to gauge when the Tesla is close to its limits.

Tesla Model X electric motor
Whichever version of the Tesla Model X you go for, you’ll have an exceptionally quick car on your hands. The Long Range Plus model can cover 0-60mph in 4.4 seconds. Top of the tree sits the Performance, which has a ‘Ludicrous mode’ to enable 0-62mph in a jaw-dropping 2.6 seconds. A software update in April 2020 added ‘Cheetah Stance’, which lowers the nose of the car and adjusts the suspension to improve performance for standing starts. Its wealth of performance abilities comfortably make the Model X Performance the fastest SUV ever built, yet one with a reasonable 340-mile range between charges.

Although the initial rush of acceleration is quite an experience, it isn’t quite so dazzling once you’ve reached cruising speed. At normal speeds, the car’s overtaking ability on the motorway doesn’t feel massively better than that of a powerful diesel or petrol car. The surge from 40-70mph, though – a speed range that covers overtaking slow traffic on single-carriageway roads, for example – is really very impressive.

Tesla Model X SUV - Interior & comfort

It’s very light, airy and comfortable, but the build quality of the Tesla Model X is a concern

As you might expect, the Model X is also a terrifically serene car to travel in, with barely a whirl from the motor as you pull away and only the faintest hint of wind noise rustling around the front of the car when you’re up to speed. Needless to say, with so little background noise to overcome, the stereo sounds fantastic.

Beyond its hi-tech touches, though, the Tesla’s interior isn’t actually the most imaginatively designed, nor are all the materials from the top drawer. All the switches that control things not directed from the huge central screen come from Mercedes of old, and some of the plastics on show can’t rival Audi or BMW for quality.

Tesla Model X dashboard
Hop into the Tesla Model X and you’d be forgiven for being temporarily stunned by the sheer size of the vast central touchscreen from which just about all of the car’s functions are controlled. While it looks impressive and seems like a fantastic idea, it might take you longer to completely get the hang of compared to other systems, especially if you’re used to a more conventional layout.

The old touchscreen weakness still applies, too – you may find yourself stabbing inaccurately at the screen on bumpy roads. We’d prefer a few more tactile physical buttons that you can use on the move without taking your eyes off the road.

There’s another screen that dominates the experience too, and that’s the one behind the steering wheel, which shows all the information you’d expect to find in the instrument binnacle of a conventional car. Like Audi’s Virtual Cockpit system, it’s fully configurable by the driver and can show things like speed, battery charge, sat-nav directions, range and what you’re listening to on the car’s stereo.

Connectivity in the Model X is a strong point; install the Tesla app on your smartphone and you can control a range of functions, including the remote-opening doors, climate control and even the headlights and horn. The app also shows how much range your car has left.

The Tesla Model X is a lavishly equipped car, whether you choose the Long Range Plus or Performance. All have an air-suspension system with a GPS link that remembers where a higher ride height is required, those eye-catching ‘falcon wing’ rear doors and a huge panoramic windscreen and sunroof. More prosaic are the standard heated seats, keyless go, sat nav with real-time traffic information and up to four ISOFIX child-seat points, depending on the number of seats you choose.

The Model X can be chosen with five, six or seven seats, the first coming as standard. Choosing a three-row, six-seat layout costs an additional £6,300, while a seventh seat is an additional £3,400.

‘Enhanced Autopilot’ is another £5,900, but enables the car to autonomously change lanes to overtake slower traffic, and even to pull off onto slip roads according to the navigation route being followed. A full self-driving capability can be purchased post-delivery, and enables the car to begin its journey with a simple voice command of where you want to go – it can then theoretically do all the driving work itself. However, although the system is “ready to go”, it’s not yet approved for full use on public roads.

Tesla Model X SUV - Practicality & boot space

There’s no doubting the Tesla Model X is a very practical car

The Tesla Model X is a little more compact than more conventional SUVs and its form isn’t dictated by having to accommodate a bulky petrol or diesel engine. Although its outline has a conventional bonnet, you’ll find nothing under it other than a few mechanical service points and a storage area. In fact, the latter contributes to the Model X being an extremely practical family hauler.

Tesla Model X interior space & storage

You can choose the Model X with anything between five and seven seats, and the seats in the first two rows are very comfortable and spacious. Up front, visibility is excellent (although the steep rake of the windscreen does mean that distracting reflections are frustratingly frequent) and there’s plenty of adjustment for the seat and steering wheel.

Getting in and out is easy in both the front and back, with the clever ‘Falcon Wing’ rear doors providing a wide aperture for access to the two back rows, but some may find the 15 seconds they take to open and close a little wearisome. We were impressed by how little space they take up when opened, though, and a proximity sensor is fitted to prevent the doors from striking obstacles.

There’s plenty of leg and headroom for those in the second row, but the third row is better suited to children.

The car comes with an eight-year/unlimited-mileage warranty for its battery and motor, along with a more general four-year/50,000-mile warranty.

Boot space
At the front of the car, a 187-litre storage space under the bonnet can take soft luggage. If you want to lug as much gear as possible, combining this and the boot with all the rear seats folded flat adds up to 2,367 litres of load volume – the same as the far bulkier Mercedes GLS manages. Loading is made easy thanks to a rear boot floor that can be raised for a reduced lip height; there’s also a removable panel for accessing a deep compartment where you can store the car’s charging cables.

Software is included that monitors trailer sway and applies the brakes to keep car and trailer on an even keel. The braked trailer towing limit is 2,280kg which reduces to 1,588 if you choose the optional 22-inch wheels.

Tesla Model X SUV - Reliability & safety

No evidence of reliability yet, but Tesla’s reputation is encouraging

The Tesla Model X was crash-tested by Euro NCAP in late 2019, earning a five-star safety rating. In 2016, Tesla was the runaway winner of our Driver Power manufacturer survey but since then it hasn’t made an appearance due to too few responses from owners. However, we’ve heard little in the way of complaints from Model X owners, even with the vast array of technology hidden under the car’s bodywork.

Tesla Model X reliability
We can’t compare Tesla’s 2016 Driver Power survey results with those of brands that feature in newer surveys. However, it is fair to say that owners then had mainly positive words for their cars, and we’ve heard little to suggest that things have changed. Owners rated the Model X very highly for reliability, although build quality came in for a little less praise. The Model X is closely related to the Model S under the surface and that car is now well proven. However, some owners in America have reported faults with the ‘falcon wing’ doors.

When the Model X was crash-tested by Euro NCAP it scored a maximum five-star rating - the same overall score as the Model S and Model 3. The Model X rated highly across the board, including 98% for adult occupant protection and 81% for child occupant protection.

Thanks to its advanced suite of standard safety kit that includes autonomous emergency braking and the ‘Autopilot’ driving assistance system, the Model X scored a highly impressive 94% for safety assistance - a rating only matched in 2019 by the Model 3.


Published in Tesla
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Subaru builds an Outback that off-roaders will say “yes” to.

Subaru is nothing if not shrewd. When SUV sales took off in the mid 1990s and threatened to leave the company's automotive offerings behind, it added cladding to the Legacy wagon and created the Subaru Outback. In the 2000s, Subaru plugged the affordable performance gap with the Impreza WRX. Today, with scores of Crosstrek, Forester, and Outback buyers rolling out of Subaru dealers and immediately into their local 4 Wheel Parts stores for upgraded wheels, all-terrain tires, and suspension lifts, the automaker is cashing in with the new 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness, the first of the new Wilderness sub-brand. Can Subaru beat the aftermarket at its own game? Yes, it can.

What's New?
With the new 2022 Outback Wilderness, Subaru honed in on the most popular off-road mods its owners like to execute to offer them from dealerships along with a factory-backed warranty. Based on the Outback XT and sporting a 2.4-liter turbo flat-four engine with 260 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque, the new range-topping Outback Wilderness downsizes from 18- to 17-inch wheels, wraps them with Yokohama Geolandar all-terrain tires, and gives the already-lifted all-wheel-drive station wagon an additional 0.8-inch of ground clearance, to 9.5 inches.

Functionally, Subaru rounds out the Outback Wilderness package with a new skidplate, slightly revised tuning of the car's continuously variable transmission to improve low-speed handling off-road, some X-Mode revisions, and a beefier roof rack. Aside from increasing ground clearance to 9.5 inches, the revisions also improve the Outback's relatively weak off-road clearance angles; approach/breakover/departure angles all improve from 18.6/19.4/21.7 degrees for a stock Outback to 20.0/21.2/23.6 degrees for the Outback Wilderness.

Subaru also made a host of stylistic changes to the Outback Wilderness, which you can read about in our First Drive.

Outback Wilderness Vs. Outback XT
There's no such thing as a free lunch, and we expected the 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness' off-road-focused changes to hurt its on-road performance. As the test numbers bear out, Subaru did an impressive job mitigating negative effects on the hot-selling SUV.

The Outback Wilderness accelerated from 0-60 mph in 6.1 seconds, and through the quarter mile in 14.7 seconds at 96.1 mph. That's only 0.2 second behind our long-term 2020 Outback Onyx XT (previously the most off-road-capable Outback) in the 0-60-mph test, and just 0.1 second behind (but 0.2 mph faster than) the Outback Onyx in the quarter-mile. We suspect the Outback Wilderness' revised CVT "gears" and 17-inch wheels help the off-roader make up some speed in the quarter.

Somewhat surprisingly, the Outback Wilderness' off-road tires seemed to help its braking and handling performance compared to our long-term Outback Onyx. The Outback Wilderness needed a longish 127 feet in our 60-0-mph panic stop test, besting the Onyx by two feet, and it lapped our figure-eight course in 27.2 seconds while averaging 0.63 g. The Outback Onyx XT? Well, it needed 27.5 seconds to lap the figure eight, averaging 0.62 g during its best run.

Less surprising are the Outback Wilderness' EPA fuel-economy ratings. It nets 22/26/24 mpg city/highway/combined, well below the Outback XT's 23/30/26 mpg.

Out on the road on the way to MT's go-to off-road testing grounds, the Outback Wilderness doesn't feel all that different from a standard Outback. Its ride quality remains superb, with the suspension quickly and capably dispatching potholes and expansion joints.

Thanks to the turbocharged flat-four, the 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness is among the rare modern-day Subarus that don't feel underpowered. The CVT is quick to virtually "kick down" and puts the engine in the meat of its powerband, and it's smart enough to hold an appropriate amount of revs when driving aggressively. Although its power delivery is slightly smoother than lesser turbocharged Outbacks, the Wilderness' turbo-four and CVT can still feel surge-y in city traffic.

Unsurprisingly, the most noticeable changes to the way the Outback Wilderness goes down the road are due to the all-terrain tires. For starters, there's more road noise. While the Subaru's Yokohamas don't drone in a way that a more aggressive off-road tire like a BFGoodrich K02 does on an aftermarket-modified Subaru, the Outback Wilderness' cabin is certainly a few decibels louder than other versions. Steering feel suffers slightly, too. The Outback Wilderness loses a bit of sharpness from the usual carlike responses to steering inputs, and its on-center feel is slightly more vague.

How Is The Outback Wilderness Off-Road?
Thankfully, the Outback Wilderness makes up for the noise and steering trade-off when the pavement ends. As is the case when trying to improve a sports car's handling, tires are the most underrated and overlooked modification you can make to improve your SUV's off-road capability. The added traction and sidewall protection of the Outback Wilderness' Yokohamas, combined with the Subaru's standard torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system, help keep the wagon moving through soft sand, gravel, and mud.

The biggest advantages of the 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness' new suspension are the improved approach and breakover angles. Off-roading a normal Outback is an exercise in watching your nose and making sure you don't dachshund your belly on moguls. You still need to exercise some caution in the Outback Wilderness, but its lifted setup helps to mitigate some of the concern, making you far more likely to arrive home from the trail without damage.

Like the standard Outback (or any crossover, really), the Wilderness' suspension neither has a lot of articulation nor does it handle fast whoops well. It's quite easy to put a tire high up in the air when navigating tight, technical terrain, though the Subaru's electronics are quick to grab the brake of the airborne tire to ensure the Outback keeps moving. Similarly, the Outback Wilderness' suspension runs out of travel pretty quickly over those aforementioned fast whoops. It's never punishing on rebound, but you get the hint to slow down.

How Much Is It, And Should I Buy One?
Prices for the 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness start at $38,120, some $500 less than the more expensive non-turbo Outback Touring and $1,850 more than the Outback Onyx XT, the "base" model of the turbo lineup. When taking into account the fact you're likely to spend more than $2,000 on wheels and off-road tires alone via the aftermarket, the Outback Wilderness begins to look like a great deal for enthusiastic off-roaders. Throw in the suspension lift, added ground clearance, and the other Wilderness goodies, and it's a downright steal.

The 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness may never tackle the Rubicon or the Mojave Road, but thanks to Subaru's changes, it will comfortably and capably tackle muddy two-tracks and desert trails. Locking differentials and true four-wheel-drive systems are fun, but we suspect the new Outback Wilderness delivers all the capability most buyers will ever need.


Published in Subaru

They say to understand where you’re going you need to know where you came from, but so stark is the contrast between this third-generation Ford Kuga and the Blue Oval’s first European mid-sized SUV – the developed-with-Nissan Maverick of 1993 – that the scholastic learning is worthy of a Masters dissertation in crossover evolution.

In fact, it’s quite the leap from its immediate eight-year-old predecessor, having grown (89mm longer, 44mm wider), yet become more lithe (6mm lower, up to 80kg lighter) in the process.

Doesn’t it look, you know, very Focusy?
As with both previous iterations of Kuga, the Mk3 shares its platform componentry with the contemporary Focus, but this time around the styling closely apes its hatchback sibling. Perhaps too much so.

Lucid Red 2020 Ford Kuga ST-Line First Edition PHEV side elevation driving

It looks softer, less aggressive, with a lower window and bonnet line than before, giving the impression that it is a Focus that’s been stretched vertically – there’s a fine amount of headroom, incidentally.

Plus, if you opt for an ST-Line or Vignale trim level – this is an ST-Line First Edition in the pictures – there’s so much colour-coding going on that the Kuga loses some of the visual toughness associated with unpainted plastic bumper mouldings and wheelarches. You’ll have to stick to the lower end of the range if you favour those cues. Or buy a Focus Active…

How’re those Focus underpinnings working out?
Very nicely. We’ve previously lauded Kugas for their handling prowess among others in a segment where it’s previously been high on the R&D wish list. Certainly, while the competition’s caught up considerably, the latest Kuga still noses ahead.

It’s not quite the zesty class leader the latest Ford Puma is in the category below, but we’d go as far as to say that the Mk3 Kuga is a better drive than many Focus hatchback derivatives.

Sorry, I nearly sprayed my tea everywhere – better than a Focus?
Absolutely – don’t forget the majority of the Focus line-up makes do with a less-sophisticated torsion beam arrangement out back, whereas all Kugas benefit from all-round independent suspension.

Lucid Red 2020 Ford Kuga ST-Line First Edition PHEV front three-quarter driving

In short, not only does the Kuga feel superbly composed when tackling a series of sweeping bends – aided and abetted by feelsome, if a tad light, steering – body control is well-contained, too, ensuring it doesn’t list around corners like a vessel on the Solent.

Ride quality is the other beneficiary of the trick suspension, although it’s slightly compromised by the firmer damping arrangement on ST-Line models with their Sports set-ups. Still, the 60-profile rubber further irons-out the sharpness of most road surface imperfections.

What’s new on the engine front, then?
It’s a blend of EcoBoost petrol and EcoBlue diesel powerplants familiar from across the Ford line-up, with all but the pokiest 188bhp oil burner available solely with front-wheel drive. If you’re considering using a Kuga where the asphalt runs out, you’re off-roading wrong.

More importantly, Ford’s finally getting its act together in terms of electrification: there’s an EcoBlue mild-hybrid with a 48-volt system, plus the plug-in hybrid range-topper tested here. There’s also a non-plug-in version of the same package.

Unlike rivals’ PHEV offerings where a tiny turbo petrol motor’s used, Ford’s plumped for a 2.5-litre four-pot operating on the more efficient Atkinson cycle. Rather than the electrical powertrain components simply being added to the engine as a bolt-on, here the two work as a package: the electrical energy is used to compensate for the lack of a forced induction system at lower revs, with the engine joining in when it can do so efficiently.

Together the power units produce 222bhp, with the electric motor accounting for 108bhp of that, confirming the unstressed nature of the engine. Ford claims over 200mpg under the latest, more rigorous WLTP testing regime, but once you’ve sapped the batteries, a figure closer to 40mpg is more likely in the real world.

Various driving models are on offer, as well as the ability to store electrical energy ready for driving in a ULEZ area. Officially, the 14.4kWh battery pack will serve up to 35 miles of zero-emissions driving and should only take around three hours to charge on a dedicated wallbox.

It’s brisk, rather than quick – the 188bhp diesel Kuga’s faster, stat fans – but at 32g/km of CO2 this one’s going to have user choosers drooling in a way Mitsubishi’s Outlander PHEV simply doesn’t.

Channelling that grunt to the forward axle is a Ford-developed CVT transmission, with artificial ratios within its software to mimic a more conventional automatic. It works to a degree, but it still causes the engine to work harder at lower speeds, which sounds loud and gruff in the process.

How easy is the Kuga to live with?
In typical Ford fashion: very. That it’s a Focus facsimile inside – albeit roomier – is not a shock, so it’s very easy to use, if not the most exciting dashboard to look at. Acres of black plastic and fabric doesn’t help give it much sparkle, either.

More importantly, it’s riddled with cubbies and sensibly shaped mouldings to keep all manner of cabin detritus located securely. Plus, there’s a smattering of USB points, an optional three-pin domestic plug socket and an available smartphone wireless charging plate with its own rubberised well.

Lucid Red 2020 Ford Kuga ST-Line First Edition PHEV dashboard viewed from passenger side

Back seat occupants are especially well catered for in what Ford claims to be the roomiest C-segment SUV for those in the rear. It feels spacious, even on models without a glazed roof, a feat improved further by a sliding 60:40 split rear bench that also reclines.

Boot space is also generous, but the flimsy, fabric loadspace cover – which completely lifts out of the way when the tailgate’s open – smacks of requiring a Heath-Robinson trademark label.

Packed with tech
Whether it’s technology to keep you safer on the roads, such as the various driver-assistance systems that contributed to the Kuga’s five-star EuroNCAP rating, or it’s a slicker, higher resolution edition of the Sync 3 multimedia touchscreen with colours that at last don’t look like they’ve been through a boil wash, most versions are well kitted-out.

Titanium versions upwards feature a generous equipment roster, but we’d especially pick out the quad-projector LED headlamps as an extra worthy of serious consideration.

ST-Line models and higher also have a very slick 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster that’s configurable and changes colour depending on the driving mode. Most also include an icon of the rear of a Mondeo – well, Fusion, really – but Sport is illustrated by a Mustang GT and Sand/Snow with an F-150 pick-up. Neat touch.

Don't forget the mild hybrid!
As Ford ups its electric game – even unveiling an EV version of its F-150 pick-up in the US – it’s easy to overlook the modest-sounding mild-hybrid version of the Kuga. Especially as it’s a diesel – yes, those old things.

Lurking in the middle of a line-up that also includes petrol, diesel, ‘self-charging’ hybrid and plug-in hybrid, the EcoBlue Hybrid version of the Kuga works extremely well on the road, and for many it could also be the version that consistently delivers true economy and efficiency.

It’s based on Ford’s 148bhp four-cylinder turbodiesel. The alternator is replaced by a multi-tasking belt-driven integrated starter-generator. It captures energy from braking and coasting, storing it in a 48-volt battery. That energy makes the automatic stop-start system more effective; it can be used to support the engine; and it helps run various electrical ancillaries.

The BISG works as a motor, but takes up little space and adds little weight. Similarly, the 48V battery has a modest capacity – it doesn’t allow electric-only driving – but it’s enough to help ease the load on the engine, reducing emissions and improving fuel consumption. And it does that throughout every journey, unlike a PHEV, which only works at its best if charged frequently.

On our brief test drive, we couldn’t match the official 55.4mpg, but we did manage figures in the high 40s, which is impressive considering that we were gettting a move on, and enjoying the EcoBlue unit’s hearty pulling power. On the move it’s smooth and quiet, and married to a six-speed manual gearbox that’s slick enough to encourage frequent shifting, so you keep the engine in its sweet spot.

Ford Kuga: verdict
So, how much is all this going to set you back? The Kuga line-up starts at £26,445, and carries on almost as far as £40k. So it's not the cheapest of relatively compact mainstream crossovers. But why should it be? It drives well, it's well equipped and has an all-round air of quality about it.

It’s going to have user choosers reaching the end of their Outlander PHEV leases clambering for a more satisfying SUV to drive.

In benefit-in-kind terms, a 20% rate taxpayer’s only going to be looking at a £60 monthly bill to run one as a company car. Expect to see a lot of these on the road, and know that the drivers are enjoying more than just good real-world value – it's also good to drive.


Published in Ford
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