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Saturday, 23 October 2021 07:15

Peugeot 308 hatchback review

"The Peugeot 308 is a comfortable, stylish family hatchback with a great interior but it’s not the most practical”

The Peugeot 308 is a family hatchback that’s had a complete makeover; its eye-catching looks are a big selling point but there are plenty of other reasons to consider buying one. The 308 is an alternative to the Ford Focus, SEAT Leon and Volkswagen Golf, and it shares parts with other similar models, including the Citroen C4 and the latest Vauxhall Astra.

There are petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid engine options but there’s no choice of gearbox; the only option is an automatic, which means there’s no low-cost entry-level model to compete with basic versions of the Focus or Golf. It’s all part of a plan to make Peugeot into a more upmarket brand within Stellantis' wide range of brands, which is also the reason for the redesigned badge on the nose of the car.

Best hatchbacks

The petrol version uses a 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine with 128bhp, while the diesel is a 1.5-litre four-cylinder unit with the same amount of power. The two plug-in hybrid options use the same 1.6-litre petrol engine, and have a total of 178bhp in standard guise, or 222bhp with an upgraded electric motor. These models offer low emissions and are cheap for company-car drivers to tax, plus they can travel up to 37 miles on electric power alone.

Most people will charge up the battery at home overnight at a standard rate of 3.8kW, but unlike some plug-in hybrids, the 308 is available with faster charging as an option. Equipped with a 7.4kW charger (for around £300), you can use a home wallbox or public charger to fill the battery in about two hours.

The new 308 is good to drive, striking a nice balance between handling and comfort. The Ford Focus is often considered to be the benchmark in the class for handling and the Skoda Octavia is the same for comfort. The 308 sits somewhere in between the two.

Yet one of the best aspects of the 308 is the interior. It feels well made and the materials are good quality, much like you’d find in a more expensive car like an Audi A3. There are some areas that look a little drab but its design is mostly excellent.

There’s also a 10-inch display with a second touch-sensitive panel below it. This looks very modern and is easier to use than the screens in other Peugeots (such as the 3008 SUV). It’s very responsive too, in a big improvement over the previous model.

The new 308 is available in Active Premium, Allure, Allure Premium, GT and GT Premium trim levels. All are well equipped; you get a 10-inch digital dial display, smartphone connectivity, LED headlights, climate control, 16-inch alloys and plenty of safety kit even on entry-level versions. As you move up the range, luxuries such as wireless phone charging, sat-nav, keyless entry, larger alloys and a 360-degree parking camera are added.

The 308 isn’t the most spacious family car around but it’s a great all-rounder that brings together comfort, efficiency, smart looks inside and out, enjoyable handling and plenty of hi-tech equipment. It’s not the best value for money but if you want an automatic or hybrid car, it’s well worth considering. There’s also a 308 SW estate version with more boot space, should you need it.

Peugeot 3008 SUV - MPG, running costs & CO2

Like many modern SUVs, the Peugeot 3008 is almost as cheap to run as a family hatchback

 

The Peugeot 3008 takes full advantage of the latest manufacturing techniques, using strong yet light steel, aluminium and plastics. This means it can be fitted with relatively small engines that offer excellent economy, catering to the thousands of buyers who covet an SUV but don’t want high running costs. It's a shame, though, that more electrified versions weren't introduced for the facelift, to plug the gap between the petrol and diesel 3008 and the plug-in hybrid.

The smaller 128bhp 1.5-litre diesel officially returns up to 60.8mpg and emits 122-157g/km of CO2. This is also available with an eight-speed automatic gearbox without affecting running costs too severely.

Going for a 2.0-litre diesel used to get you more power, but this has now been discontinued. The top-of-the-range 175bhp engine officially returned up to 47.3mpg and emits 162-178g/km of CO2.

Despite traditional SUV trends, petrol power will be an economically viable option for many buyers, especially if most of your driving is done over short distances or in town, purely because you’ll pay less for an equivalent engine, and little more for its fuel. The entry-level 128bhp 1.2-litre returns up to 48mpg and emits 133-165g/km. The 1.6-litre petrol was discontinued in mid-2021 but officially managed around 43mpg with emissions of 148-177g/km of CO2.

Choosing Peugeot’s six-speed automatic gearbox costs around £1,300 and sees economy drop by just a little bit. CO2 emissions rise fractionally if you go for the automatic.

Officially, the most economical model is the range-topping 3008 Hybrid4, which is a direct rival to the Ford Kuga plug-in hybrid, and is said to return up to 235.4mpg. It’s worth pointing out that you’ll struggle to achieve close to this figure unless you religiously charge up the battery and only use the car for short, urban trips. CO2 emissions are remarkably low at 30-41g/km, which will please company-car drivers. The less powerful front-wheel-drive hybrid model is capable of up to 222.3mpg with CO2 emissions of 29-39g/km.

If you have access to a 7kW home charger, the Hybrid4 will fully replenish the battery in around one hour 45 minutes. You’ll need to wait eight hours for the battery to get to full charge if you’re using a standard three-pin socket. A dedicated smartphone app lets you choose when to charge the car (so you can charge overnight on a cheaper tariff, for example) and set the air-conditioning before you get in.

Company car drivers should find the Benefit-In-Kind (BiK) tax rates attractive, especially for the hybrid models. VED (road tax) for private buyers is charged at the standard rate for all petrol and diesel models with the hybrids liable for the discounted rate. Flagship models can cost over £40,000, and these will be subject to a surcharge until the car is six years old.

Insurance groups
The Peugeot 3008 sits in groups 20-38 for insurance. Most models are rated in group 21 and under though, with only the more powerful petrol and Hybrids punching above the group 22 mark.

Warranty
Peugeot’s three year/60,000-mile warranty used to be about average for the industry, but with Hyundai, Toyota, Kia, Mercedes and BMW also offering better protection, we’d argue it’s time for Peugeot to up its game here.

Servicing
Peugeot’s fixed-price servicing packages make budgeting for maintenance easy, and policies start from around £14 each month if you take out a three-year deal.

Peugeot 3008 SUV - Engines, drive & performance

The Peugeot 3008 is competent, comfortable and enjoyable to drive

 

What do you want your SUV to do? If the answer to that question is ‘be easy to drive while providing a high ride height for good visibility and access along with plenty of space for my family’, buy the Peugeot 3008.

If the first thing that sprang into your mind was ‘be great to drive’, you might think you’d be better off looking at the more expensive BMW X3 SUV, or a conventional hatchback like the SEAT Leon.

We've found the 3008 to be impressively composed on an open road, but it doesn't goad you to drive it harder. There’s little body lean to speak of, yet this doesn’t come at the expense of comfort, as the suspension makes a decent fist of softening pitted tarmac and soaking up potholes. The 3008 is also easy to drive around town, while it’s impressively quiet and civilised on the motorway.

The SEAT Ateca may have slightly sharper steering and stiffer suspension, but the trade off is it’s less comfortable than the 3008, which is well rounded in every aspect of its driving characteristics. It has the Nissan Qashqai and Renault Kadjar soundly beaten in the enjoyment stakes, coming off well in comparison to the sharp-handling Volkswagen Tiguan, while the Ford Kuga and Mazda CX-5 steer slightly more sweetly.

There’s no four-wheel-drive option for the non-hybrid 3008, but Peugeot’s ‘Grip Control’ setup (which is essentially a sophisticated traction-control system) costs between £250 and £500, as it requires 18-inch alloy wheels, which aren’t standard on all trims. It should help you out when the going gets tough, particularly if it’s paired with the optional winter tyres.

With an electric motor on each axle, the 296bhp Hybrid4 model has four-wheel drive and it’ll tackle reasonably challenging off-road terrain without needing to start the petrol engine. Both hybrids are much heavier than the petrol models and, while they offer great straight-line acceleration, the extra weight makes them feel much more cumbersome through corners.

Peugeot 3008 petrol engines
The 128bhp 1.2-litre petrol engine in the 3008 uses turbocharging to help keep performance up and running costs down, and they’re familiar Peugeot fare. Our drive of the more powerful of these revealed it to provide the 3008 with pretty swift performance, taking eight seconds to go from 0-62mph. The standard automatic gearbox that comes with this engine also impressed us, as it changes gear smoothly, quickly and with minimal fuss.

The petrol engine is also a smooth operator. This will probably need to be worked hard to shift the 3008’s heft, but it’s certainly worth taking for a test drive, as it offers the cheapest route to 3008 ownership. With this engine fitted, 0-62mph takes 9.5 seconds, although that time is likely to increase if you load the 3008 with passengers and luggage. It's impressively linear in its power delivery, and feels powerful enough for cruising on the motorway and overtaking slower traffic. In mid-2021, the range-topping 179bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine was discontinued. This unit was previously the quickest regular engine in the 3008 range, getting from 0-62mph in eight seconds.

Diesel engines
Many buyers after an SUV still want a diesel engine, so Peugeot offers one with either a manual or eight-speed automatic gearbox. Again, they’re staple Peugeot products, and we’ve driven the 128bhp 1.5-litre version, which is likely to be a big seller. It’s a little raucous when being revved, but once in a high-gear cruise it’s admirably quiet. It takes 10.8 seconds to go from 0-62mph, or 11.5 seconds if you choose the eight-speed automatic gearbox.

The 99bhp diesel is no longer available, and it was the only model to come with a five-speed rather than six-speed manual gearbox, with no automatic option. We'd recommend avoiding this engine if you're looking on the used market.

The more powerful 2.0-litre diesel engine was also discontinued with the arrival of the facelifted 3008. The 175bhp engine was automatic-only and had some extra grunt, which was useful for towing. However, it was only offered in the top trim with a hefty price tag. For that reason, it was a rare choice. This engine manages 0-62mph in 9 seconds.

Hybrid engines
Not every family car is offered with a plug-in hybrid version but Peugeot has offered 3008 buyers two to choose from. Both combine a 1.6-litre petrol engine with a 13.2kWh battery and an electric motor, and both use Peugeot’s eight-speed automatic transmission.

The front-wheel-drive ‘Hybrid’ is the less expensive and less powerful of the two, with one electric motor, 222bhp and a 0-62mph time of 8.9 seconds. Above that is the ‘Hybrid4’ with two electric motors (one on each axle), four-wheel drive and a peak power output of 296bhp. Zero to 62mph takes just 6.1 seconds - quicker than the Peugeot 308 GTi hot hatchback - although the Hybrid4 is expensive.

Peugeot 3008 SUV - Interior & comfort

The Peugeot 3008 has one of the best interiors we’ve come across in recent years

The Peugeot 3008 deserves to be heaped with praise for its interior design and represents the best in class. Peugeot is really spoiling us with the quality of interior materials, which range from excellent soft-touch plastics on top of the dashboard to attractively textured cloth running along the inside edge of the doors.

It’s also pleasing to report that while Peugeot fits the 3008 with a small steering wheel that’s designed to be looked over (rather than through) when viewing the dials, the ergonomics of this now look to have been resolved. Taller and shorter drivers who find the steering wheel obscures the gauges, shouldn’t have the same problem in the 3008.

Thanks to its great interior and ride quality, the 3008 is one of the most comfortable cars in its class.

Peugeot’s decision to fit all 3008s with its i-Cockpit is welcome and generous. This 12.3-inch digital display replaces the speedometer, fuel gauge and other dashboard dials and can be configured to show sat-nav guidance, media playlists or information about fuel economy and journey times. Audi has offered a similar setup for some time, but usually as a pricey option. Peugeot’s decision to make it standard may cause other carmakers to follow suit in an effort to keep up. For the facelift the screen has been upgraded for improved contrast, making it easier to read.

Another nice touch is the row of seven silvered toggle switches below the 10-inch infotainment touchscreen, which has grown for the updated car and now has improved definition. These look almost like piano keys and work in conjunction with the touchscreen, bringing up music, ventilation and other modes. You still have to use the screen itself to adjust the temperature and other settings, though, but the screen is capacitive rather than resistive, so it’s much easier to operate than some setups.

Equipment
The 3008 range kicks off with Active Premium, and choosing this gets you 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, all-round parking sensors, an eight-inch display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Moving up to Allure trim adds larger 18-inch alloy wheels and adds sat nav to a 10-inch infotainment system. Costing around £700 extra, Allure Premium brings keyless entry, aluminium roof rails, ambient lighting and a front passenger seat that can fold flat.

There's also a top GT trim with LED headlights, a black roof lining, adaptive cruise control and upholstery with a mixture of leather and Alcantara. This can be upgraded once more to GT Premium for the ultimate 3008 spec, bringing 19-inch wheels, a powered tailgate, enhanced stereo, 360-degree powertrain and heated seats.

Options
Just because the 3008 is well equipped, doesn’t mean there isn’t a fairly lengthy options list. Metallic paint is a near-essential for many and costs just over £500. We always recommend specifying a full-size spare wheel if possible, for which Peugeot asks around £100.

A wireless smartphone charging pad is available, along with Nappa leather upholstery and a panoramic sunroof.

Peugeot 3008 SUV - Practicality & boot space

The Peugeot 3008 is competitively spacious

The Peugeot 3008 is roomy enough for a family of four. The SEAT Ateca and Nissan Qashqai are ever so slightly bigger inside, but the 3008 has a larger boot than those two cars.

Peugeot 3008 interior space & storage

Front-seat passengers are able to stretch out in the 3008, but it’s not quite as commodious as its exterior dimensions might lead you to believe. Still, there’s an argument that many will like the sense of being cocooned in the 3008, especially given the plushness of its interior – and it’s by no means cramped up front.

Those in the rear do pretty well for space. The back doors open nice and wide, while head and legroom are good in the outer two seats. The front centre console extends a long way into the back, and we reckon middle-seat passengers may feel hard done by, as they’ll have to contort their limbs around a not-insignificant chunk of automotive furniture.

Boot space
At 520 litres, the Peugeot 3008 has the Nissan Qashqai (430 litres) roundly beaten when it comes to luggage space and even manages to edge the spacious SEAT Ateca by 10 litres for total load volume. Drop the rear seats using the levers in the boot and the boot grows to an impressive 1,482 litres. The 60:40 split-folding rear seats lie nice and flat, while the back of the front passenger seat can be folded for lugging longer loads.

Because of the space taken up by the batteries, the 3008 plug-in hybrid models aren’t quite so generous. With the seats up, there are 395 litres to fill, and this increases to 1,357 litres if you fold the rear seats. The Hybrid versions also get a 43-litre fuel tank, while regular petrol and diesel models have a tank that’s 10 litres larger.

Towing
If you plan on using the 3008 as a tow car, go for the 1.5-litre diesel, as this can haul up to 1,500kg. The other engines are rated at 1,200kg to 1,400kg, with the Hybrid versions able to tow up to 1,250kg.

Peugeot 3008 SUV - Reliability & safety

Peugeot 3008 is very safe and scored highly in our Driver Power survey

The Peugeot 3008 achieved an impressive ranking in the 2021 Driver Power survey and scored well in Euro NCAP crash testing.

Modern car-building techniques mean a manufacturer or group of manufacturers can get more than one model out of a single platform – the mechanical skeleton that underpins the bodywork. The Peugeot 3008 is no exception to this trend, and it shares many hidden parts with the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso MPV, as well as the Peugeot 308 family hatchback.

After a mightily impressive second place out of 75 cars in our 2020 survey, the 3008 finished in 50th place in our 2021 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey. It still scored strongly in every category with a decent rating for reliability indicating how pleased 3008 owners are with the car as an ownership proposition, which is obviously encouraging if you're considering buying one.

Safety
Euro NCAP – the independent body that assesses the crashworthiness of new cars – toughened up its test criteria recently, so it’s good to see the Peugeot 3008 scored the full five stars when it was assessed. It scored 86% for the protection it affords adults and 85% for that offered to children. This is impressive, as many cars do an excellent job at safeguarding larger occupants, but post a lower result (often by as much as 10%) when it comes to smaller passengers.

All 3008s get mandatory kit like electronic stability control, ISOFIX child-seat mounts, a tyre-pressure warning system and a seatbelt reminder. Peugeot also throws in a clutch of airbags and a camera that scans for road signs, relaying pertinent information to a screen on the dashboard.

A lane-departure warning system also comes with all 3008s, as does autonomous emergency braking. This latter bit of kit is one of the biggest developments in car safety to have emerged in recent years, with data indicating it helps prevent up to 38% of rear-end crashes.

(https://www.carbuyer.co.uk/peugeot/3008/155079/peugeot-3008-suv-review-pictures)

 
Friday, 22 October 2021 06:12

Volvo C40 Recharge review

 At a glance

New price £57,400 - £57,400
Lease from new From £717 p/mView lease deals
Fuel economy
Not tested to latest standards
View pre-2017 economy specs

 PROS

  • Excellent performance
  • Surprisingly practical
  • Comforable seats and ride

 CONS

  • Expensive to buy
  • Rivals eclipse it for range
  • Doesn't feel as special as it should
 

Is the Volvo C40 any good?

Volvo’s latest ‘small’ car (as small as a Volvo gets, anyway) is this – the C40 Recharge. It marks the first time Volvo’s offered a car that’s exclusively available with electric power, as the mechanically similar XC40 is also offered as a petrol or a plug-in hybrid.

It’s also the brand’s first coupe-SUV, letting Volvo dip its toe in the water of this growing market segment. But the company is confident that its combination of style, cool image and all-electric power will tempt buyers into subscribing to this smart new entrant into the market.

As a small-ish electric car, the C40 has a growing number of rivals. Premium-badged opposition includes the Audi Q4 E-Tron, the Mercedes-Benz EQA and soon the Tesla Model Y. It’ll also be vying for sales with its own siblings – the XC40 Recharge as well as the Polestar 2.

Volvo hopes that the C40’s unique looks, as well as its availability on the ‘Care by Volvo’ subscription plan will endear it to enough people – buyers who want the ownership process to be ‘effortless and joyful’, as the brand says. But there’s a high price to pay for that ease…

What’s it like inside?

The C40 shares most of its interior with the XC40 SUV, and that’s a good thing. Even though the XC40 is a relatively inexpensive car and it’s been largely unchanged since 2017, its interior doesn’t feel out of place on the £57,000+ C40 in 2021.

There are a few changes between the XC40 and the C40, though. The main one is obviously that coupe-like roofline, which you might think makes the back seats and boot very cramped indeed.

Volvo C40 - interior

That’s not entirely so, though. The boot is rather small at 413 litres with little loading height, but there’s plenty of legroom in the back and even headroom’s not too badly impacted unless you’re very tall. It’s nowhere near as spacious as an Audi Q4 E-Tron, though.

Another change is the materials used. The C40 is an almost entirely vegan car on the inside – it uses no leather, and aims to minimise the use of animal products wherever possible (though some are almost unavoidable, such as the use of tallow in plastics manufacturing). Upholstery is largely wool-based, or uses microfibre spun from recycled plastic bottles. Not as nasty to sit on as it sounds.

You also get 3D-printed and backlit dashboard panels in place of the faux-aluminium ones on the XC40. They look a bit rubbish in the daylight but really come alive when lit up at night, making for a very cool effect.

Infotainment and tech

The C40 runs Volvo’s latest infotainment software, which is based upon Android Automotive – a Google product. That means that the more you commit to Google’s own ecosystem, the better the infotainment gets – from the built-in Google Maps optimising routes more effectively, to the natural voice commands which are better than any OEM system we’ve used before.

It also opens the door to a whole host of Android apps being available to download from the Play Store in future, which will update over-the-air.

Android Automotive makes the C40 one of the few cars where iPhone users are somewhat left behind. With no Apple CarPlay yet available, you’ll have to commit to a certain amount of Google in your life – perhaps more than many Apple users will be accustomed to.

Volvo C40 - infotainment

What’s it like to drive?

Simplicity is the name of the game here. The Volvo C40 doesn’t even have a starter button or a parking brake – you simply get in, shift into D and get going.

That simplifying factor carries over into the driving experience, where you won’t find anything so complex as switchable drive modes. Instead there’s only two controls – one to firm the steering up, and one to switch to ‘One-Pedal Drive’, which ramps up the regenerative braking so you can coast to a full stop without touching the brake pedal.

Largely it’s a comfortable experience behind the wheel of the C40. The large wheels of our test car thumped a little around town but on the motorway it settled down to a comfortable ride.

As for performance, it’s impressive. The C40 uses an electric motor on each axle and produces a total of 408hp – that makes for hot hatchback-rivalling pace of 4.7 seconds from 0-62mph. It certainly feels very muscular right up to motorway speeds. We wonder if it wouldn’t feel almost as good with just a single motor, though – that’s an option you can get on the XC40 but it won’t hit the C40 range for a while yet.

Volvo C40 - front cornering

What models and trims are available?

The C40’s only available in one, very highly-specified trim level – the only options are paint colour and a retractable towbar. That means every model gets (deep breath):

  • Adaptive LED headlights
  • Fixed panoramic sunroof
  • 9.0-inch infotainment display
  • 12.3-inch digital instrument panel
  • Harman Kardon stereo
  • Wireless charging
  • 360-degree cameras plus all-round parking sensors
  • Heated front and rear seats
  • Dual-zone climate control
  • Pilot Assist (adaptive cruise control + automatic lane-keeping)

Metallic paint and posh upholstery are also a given.

Volvo C40 - rear three quarter 

What else should I know?

The C40 Recharge uses the same 78kWh battery pack as the XC40 Recharge. It provides a maximum range of 273 miles on a single charge.

That’s less than you’ll get from an Audi Q4 E-Tron, Tesla Model Y or Polestar 2, but it’s still a thoroughly decent range and should mean at least 200 motorway miles.

Find a 150kW rapid charger and the C40 can be topped up to 80% capacity in just 40 minutes. The onboard charger is of the faster, 11kW type, too, so if your home electricity supply supports a wallbox of this speed then you should be able to top up fully in just eight hours.

 Volvo C40 rear three quarter

Should you buy one?

The C40 Recharge is a good electric car, but it doesn’t really feel as though it moves the game on for Volvo or the industry in general. Performance is rapid and it returns an acceptable range on a single charge, but it’s beaten soundly in both aspects by the Tesla Model 3.

And its high price tag means the Volvo C40 is undercut – on cash price or monthly price – by a host of seriously talented cars including the Audi Q4 E-Tron and the Polestar 2.

The Volvo C40 might make a bit more sense later on when cheaper variants arrive in the range – for now, it’s difficult to wholeheartedly recommend unless you’re a serious fan of the way it looks.

(https://www.parkers.co.uk/volvo/c40/review/)

Wednesday, 20 October 2021 08:20

New Ford Mustang Mach-E GT 2021 review

With 480bhp and a 310-mile range, does the new Ford Mustang Mach-E GT offers the perfect blend of performance and practicality? We find out...

 
 
Verdict

The Ford Mustang Mach-E GT proves that EVs can be engaging – to an extent. The performance is a given, but the sharp steering and extra agility in Untamed mode help the GT’s case. However, the mass means this is only true up to a point, although the practicality on refinement on offer, mixed with genuinely usable range and respectable charging, make the GT a solid flagship for Ford’s first bespoke electric model line and a good electric SUV.

Ford has long been known for taking its run of the mill family cars and souping them up into something special. This is the fast Ford recipe, so it’s no surprise that the Blue Oval is taking a similar approach in the age of electrification, and the Mustang Mach-E GT is its first hot EV.

The strength of the Mustang nameplate means that a performance variant should sit naturally here, so the Mach-E GT boasts more power and torque, offering 480bhp and 860Nm respectively. It’s dual-motor powertrain gives strong traction off the line for a 3.7-second 0-62mph time, meaning it’s easily a match for the Tesla Model Y Performance.

On the move it feels it. As with many performance-focused electric cars, the throttle pedal’s map means you get a massive hit of torque with only a little travel and instant response to your inputs, so the GT romps forwards with an incredible urgency.

There are caveats, however. As long as you have the Mustang’s mass moving the response is good; this big EV’s relatively high kerbweight, at 2,273kg, means from a standstill it takes a little coaxing, while the thump also tails off at higher speeds. But at anything from town to motorway velocity, the Mach-E GT is more than rapid enough.

The enhanced powertrain is joined by some chassis upgrades in the form of Ford’s MagnaRide 2 adaptive suspension set-up, while 385mm Brembo brakes help stop the bulky machine and rein in its extra performance – but these additions have also been tuned with fun in mind, Ford claims.

Ultimately, that high weight means that the Mach-E GT is compromised; its straight-line punch is startling, but nothing we haven’t seen before from the likes of Tesla, while, despite the chassis tweaks, its mass is still obviously apparent in corners as you start to push the GT harder.

The steering is positive though, with a nice, fast response and relatively good grip, but it’s never truly engaging like the best fast Fords from history have been. You can feel some lethargy in quick direction changes, but it’s still not too bad for a big, battery powered SUV, and we should credit Ford with trying to inject some interest for keen drivers. In areas it has been successful.

 
There are Whisper, Active, Untamed and Untamed Plus driving modes to choose from that subtly change the car’s character from a greater focus on refinement to a greater focus on fun, altering the car’s torque delivery and chassis settings.

You notice the difference as the latter offers an extra edge of adjustability that deserts some of its EV rivals, tightening its line noticeably on the exit of bends as you apply the power. Untamed Plus also preps the drivetrain for repeated high-power deployment. Exploit this punch frequently though, and you’ll not get near the claimed 310-mile range on a full charge. The GT is powered by a 98.7kWh battery, of which 88kWh is usable, while 150kW rapid charging capability means a 10 to 80 per cent top-up takes 45 minutes.

 
 
 
Drop the GT back into Whisper mode and refinement is improved, making this sportiest Mach-E yet a sound cruiser on the smooth tarmac of our Croatian test route.

The chassis is just compliant enough, with enough suspension travel to soak up smoother, more flowing bumps sweetly. However, riding on 20-inch wheels the worst imperfections in the road surface do cause a shudder, and the firmer set-up to control the Mustang’s mass and deliver an engaging edge means that it does feel stiff at times.

Along with the standard-fit alloys, the GT also features more bespoke trim, including Ford Performance seats with extra bolstering to deal with the higher cornering forces. There are also body-coloured wheel arches, redesigned bumpers bespoke to the GT, a 3D-effect grille in grey, and two new body colours – Cyber Orange and Grabber Blue.

Of course, the interior is still dominated by the central 15.5-inch Tesla-style touchscreen, which features Ford’s SYNC4 infotainment with connected nav. It’s an intuitive system to use and responds quickly, although with nowhere to anchor your hand it’s not always the easiest to use on the move. The letterbox-style 10.2-inch digital display behind the steering wheel is delightfully simple and easy to read, though.

GT spec inherits the Mach-E AWD Extended Range’s list of standard kit, so wireless phone charging, adaptive cruise with lane centring, all-round parking sensors and a 360-degree camera, dual-zone climate control, heated seats and a heated steering wheel, adaptive LED headlights and plenty of safety kit are all fitted. But then you’d expect as much given the price.

The tech is fine, but the £65,080 Mustang Mach-E GT could offer some higher quality materials in places compared with similarly priced premium rivals, such as the Jaguar I-Pace.

There’s also a hands-free powered tailgate, which reveals a 402-litre boot. Practicality is boosted by the 100-litre ‘frunk’ (great for storing charging cables), while room in the rear is fine despite the Mach-E’s slightly swoopier coupe-like profile, which the GT’s bespoke styling elements enhance to good effect.

(https://www.autoexpress.co.uk/ford/mustang-mach-e/356340/new-ford-mustang-mach-e-gt-2021-review)

Tuesday, 19 October 2021 06:49

New Vauxhall Combo-e Life 2021 review

Adding an electric powertrain to Vauxhall’s Combo Life MPV creates a fine family utility vehicle, if you don’t mind driving a van

 
 
Verdict

Style sells in the car world and few would argue that the Vauxhall Combo-e Life is over-endowed in that department. If, however, you’re perfectly happy to be seen loading the kids, pets and assorted baggage into an electric MPV based on a van, this could prove to be a phenomenally practical and cheap-to-run option. It’s not a thrilling drive but the electric powertrain is smooth, quiet and more-than strong enough. The interior space is outstanding and the tough van-derived interior should stand up well to family use.

SUVs may have supplanted mainstream MPVs as the do-it-all family car of choice but the cheap, cheerful and relentlessly useful van-based MPV models from the lower end of the people carrier market have hung on more successfully. The new Vauxhall Combo-e Life is one such example. It’s based on the electric Combo-e version of the Vauxhall Combo compact van and has a 134bhp pure-electric powertrain with a 50kWh battery yielding a WLTP range of 174 miles. On the face of it, this EV option seems a good fit with the low-cost, low complexity remit of these vehicles.

Admittedly, after the plug-in car grant is deducted, it’s priced from £30,610 in 5-seater guise with the 7-seater £500 more and the long wheelbase XL model another £1,100 on top of that - around £6,000 more than an equivalent diesel powered Combo Life. If your usage patterns suit though, running costs could be tiny. 

The Combo-e Life will charge from flat to full in seven hours and 30 minutes from a standard 7kW home wallbox. At a 100kW fast charger you can get from 0 to 80 per cent in half an hour. Its zero-emissions status means free passage into congestion charge and low emissions zones. There’s even a company car tax rate of 1% that might even make up for the disparaging looks your glazed commercial vehicle may get in the golf club car park.

You certainly won’t have to take the driver out of the bag to get your golf clubs into a Combo-e Life. The five-seat models have a 597-litre boot extending up to 2,126 litres when you fold the rear seats down. These capacities are the same that you get in the petrol and diesel versions because this Vauxhall uses the Stellantis group’s purpose-designed EMP2 architecture that sites the batteries under the floor. In fact, this is the real strength of the van-based MPV and the Combo-e Life in particular: space.

The standard models come in at 4.4 meters long, the XL variants extending to 4.75. In 5-seat mode there’s abundant head and leg room for all passengers but three adults sitting across the rear will struggle for shoulder room. In the XL model’s third row there’s a surprising amount of space even for taller adults. There’s quite a step up to access the seats, though, and they don’t fold flat to the floor as the middle row ones do. With seven people inside there’s still a small about of boot space under the huge tailgate for a row of shopping bags or similar.

 
 
The interior is packed with storage options and can be bathed in light via the optional (£840) panoramic sunroof but, aside from a few chrome highlights, the materials are largely lifted from the van version. That means tough and durable rather than the soft touch plastics but the bits drivers interact with most, the standard 10-inch driver information display, the eight-inch central touchscreen, the steering wheel and the climate control buttons, are a cut above in terms of quality.

The driving position is perhaps a little narrow due to the thick door and the wide centre console in the Life model but the seat itself is comfortable. The Combo-e gives you a choice of Eco, Normal and Power driving modes that actually uncork progressively more power from the motor. In the Power setting there’s the full 136bhp for an 11.7s 0-60mph time but most will rein the powertrain back to Normal (107bhp) in the interests of maximising range. The mode selector also allows you to set the level of regenerative braking; crank it right up and you can drive with one pedal most of the time.

 

Our fully-charged test van was showing 165-miles to begin with and after 20 miles of mixed driving in Normal mode we had an indicated 130 miles left. The Combo-e Life is super quiet; there’s just a gentle whine from the electric motor low speeds and barely anything audible above the whisper of wind and road noise on the motorway.

 

The ride is smooth on good surfaces but can get a little jittery on rougher roads. It’s a competent but uninspiring vehicle to drive generally with the steering very light and becoming vague in corners when you have to apply more lock. For such a tall car, body roll is well contained thanks, in part, to that 350kg of battery ballast in the floor.

Vauxhall is only offering the Combo Life’s mid-spec SE trim level with the Combo-e Life and with that you get 16” alloy wheels and body colouring for the bumpers and side protection mouldings to improve the look of the vehicle - but it’s still clearly a van. Also standard is the 8” touchscreen for the infotainment system that includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There are parking sensors and a camera at the rear to help avoid parking knocks, while cruise control and speed limit sign recognition are also included.

In terms of rivals in the compact electric van-based MPV niche, for now it’s really just the Vauxhall Combo-e Life’s Stellantis Group cousins, the Peugeot e-Rifter and Citroen e-Berlingo. That gives customers plenty of ways to buy ostensibly the same vehicle but in all cases they’ll be getting a huge payload of practicality with the potential for very low costs, if they can square the style circle.

(https://www.autoexpress.co.uk/vauxhall/combo/356329/new-vauxhall-combo-e-life-2021-review)

Cadillac's junior Blackwing sedan will go down as one the best driver's cars of all time.

The smaller of the two Blackwings, the CT4-V drives, handles, and performs as if Caddy ignored modern benchmarks and went after the E90. The electrically assisted steering builds effort and feeds information in a way that rivals the best modern sports cars. Turn the nose in and hold it to the 1.01-g limit. Using that grip is easy, as the car communicates through the steering and chassis exactly when you're about the slip the surly bonds of the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires. At 3851 pounds, the CT4-V is more playful than the 668-hp CT5-V Blackwing. Size matters when you're hustling, and the CT4-V's (like the E90's) strikes us as ideal.

2022 cadillac ct4v blackwing
 HIGHS: USDA Prime chassis, honest steering feel, spectacular manual 'box.
 
 It would have been even lovelier if Cadillac had crammed the Corvette's naturally aspirated 6.2-liter V-8 into the CT4-V or dipped into the small-block greatest hits with a 7.0-liter LS7. But the responsive twin-turbo 3.6-liter V-6 is improved over the version that powered the ATS-V. While not as silky as BMW's inline-sixes, it spins willingly thanks to titanium connecting rods exclusive to the manual Blackwing.

Cadillac tells us that the little 'Wing isn't intended to be a dragster. Okay, Cadillac. So why does this car have the world's most adjustable launch-control system? Not only can you dictate the launch rpm in steps of 100 from 2400 to 4000 rpm, but you can also tailor it to available surface traction by dialing in half-percent increments how much slip you want at the tires. The number of permutations is staggering, but there's an automatic mode for those who just want the computers to figure it out. With the settings carefully set up for our surface, the 472-horse sedan raced to 60 mph in 4.0 seconds. Rip through three no-lift shifts and the quarter-mile arrives in 12.4 seconds at 116 mph.

2022 cadillac ct4v blackwing

LOWS: Six isn't eight; this is the end, my friend.

GM's latest magnetorheological dampers provide a supple ride in their softest setting. They noticeably stiffen in sportier modes but manage to keep impact harshness from the driver. The CT4-V provides dynamic bliss without sacrificing refinement, making it an ideal daily driver.

Few cars inspire us to consider monthly payments, but the manual CT4-V Blackwing's $59,990 base price prompted us to crunch the numbers. Years from now, when we're standing around an EV charging station jawing about the glory days, we'll tell anyone who'll listen about this Blackwing.

 (https://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/a37948869/2022-cadillac-ct4-v-blackwing-by-the-numbers/)

Merc S Classes kitted out to look like a Maybach are aplenty but this dude has taken it further and has kitted a Merc E Class to look like an S 650 Maybach. Complete with V12 badges, this should go down as the greatest automotive catfishes of all times!

When buying a Mercedes-Benz E-Class do customers ever think of upgrading it into a Maybach version? Exactly, they never do. If you can’t afford the real thing, you resort to the one that you can pay for without selling a kidney.
 

But some Chinese experts have found a customer niche for the conversion. They built a body kit for the Mercedes-Benz E-Class L, with the L standing for Long Wheelbase. This variant is only available in markets such as China and India, stretching all the way to 5,065 millimeters (199.44 inches).

The kit comprises chrome intake surrounds that draw plenty of attention, as well as a larger grille with vertical slats. There is, of course, the Maybach badge. More chrome detailing adorns the exhaust pipes and rear bumper.
 

Not every Mercedes-Benz E-Class can become a Maybach. The body kit is only compatible with the pre-facelift versions, sold between 2016 and 2020. Customers can purchase it with a few clicks on the Alibaba website with costs between $1,000 and $1,500, according to Carscoops. That is the cost for a fake Maybach, plus labor. Any body shop anywhere in the world should be able to make the conversion.

Automobile Ardent posted photos of a car already converted. The car was spotted in a gas station in Faridabad India. The owner did the trick all the way. He painted his E-Class in two tones in the typical Maybach style and replaced the headlights. The front fenders also sport the V12 badging, so it could really trick anyone. Well, not quite anyone though.
 
The Mercedes-Maybach S-Class starts at $184,900 in the United States, while the E-Class (with the standard wheelbase though)starts at $54,250. In Germany, customers will pay at least 164,565 euros for the Maybach S-Class and 51,860 euros for the E. Read more > https://mercedes-world.com/e-class/mercedes-benz-e-class-maybach-s-class

Thursday, 14 October 2021 06:24

Land Rover Defender Review: Tough Luxe

 
 

The verdict: The Defender delivers modern Land Rover SUV qualities, like impressive power and extensive off-road technology, in a distinctive shape that plays off the past.

Versus the competition: For a mid-size luxury SUV, the Defender’s claimed off-road capabilities — including a 35.4-inch wading depth — are considerable. It’s also surprisingly nimble and refined on the street, though its design emphasizes ruggedness over traditional luxury cues.

Last sold in the U.S. for the 1997 model year, “Defender” is a legendary Land Rover nameplate that has embodied capability much the same way as Jeep’s “Wrangler.” More expensive than Land Rover’s entry-luxury compact SUVs but not as pricey as the brand’s family of Range Rover models, the Defender sits alongside the Discovery in Land Rover’s lineup.

The Defender is offered in two-door (90) and four-door (110) form. Our primary test vehicle was a 2020 four-door SE trim level with the optional mild-hybrid drivetrain, which features an inline-six-cylinder engine that’s both turbocharged and supercharged. We also spent some time in a 2021 two-door First Edition. The as-tested price of our SE version was $72,180, while the First Edition’s as-tested price was $66,475 (prices include a $1,350 destination charge).

We weren’t able to test the Defender off-road, but judging by the number of Land Rovers we see cruising around Chicago and its suburbs, the urban jungle is as natural a Land Rover habitat as an actual jungle. We’re looking forward to testing the Defender off-road in the future, but for now this review covers what it’s like as a daily driver.

Surprisingly Quick

The four-door Defender is a big, heavy vehicle that’s as tall and wide as some full-size SUVs. The six-cylinder’s 395-horsepower rating is nothing to sneeze at, but it feels like there’s even more power under the Defender’s hood; the engine delivers effortless acceleration that belies this SUV’s considerable bulk. It incorporates an electrically driven supercharger that increases boost pressure at low engine rpm, resulting in 406 pounds-feet of torque from 2,000 rpm. While it doesn’t have the kind of forceful high-speed passing power the Range Rover’s available supercharged V-8 produces, it’s still swift.

The mild-hybrid drivetrain makes about 100 hp more than the base four-cylinder and gets slightly better estimated gas mileage: It’s EPA-rated 17/22/19 mpg city/highway/combined versus the base engine’s 17/20/18 mpg rating. Both engines have better estimated fuel economy than the Lexus GX 460, another off-road-capable luxury SUV, which is powered by a 301-hp V-8 and rated 15/19/16 mpg.

Nimble, Too

Despite its size, the Defender doesn’t drive like a big SUV; it’s easy to maneuver and place where you want. It steers with a light touch, and steering response is direct and precise. The tall driving position affords commanding forward views, and the SUV feels poised whether you’re on suburban streets or the highway.

Like the top-of-the-line Range Rover, the Defender 110 has a standard air suspension, but this model’s ride quality is firmer and less forgiving. It’s not harsh, but I did feel breaks and bumps in the pavement — and that was with the available 20-inch tires set to their light load pressures of 34 psi in front and 36 psi in back, rather than their normal load settings of 47 psi in front and 50 psi in back. (Higher tire pressures tend to deteriorate ride quality.)

Less Luxury, More Utility

The original Defender and the models that preceded it were rugged, military-derived, no-frills vehicles. The new Defender’s interior has its share of luxury cues, but it’s not as plush as other Land Rovers.

That doesn’t mean its unique design cues aren’t cool. They are, and some of them are even functional. Exposed Torx-style screws on the doors and center console lend a bit of an industrial feel, and the recessed dashboard face creates a nearly vehicle-wide shelf for odds and ends. It’s just one of many storage areas in the Defender, which also has large door pockets and an open storage area where the center console meets the dash.

Taller adults can ride comfortably in the four-door model’s second row, which has lots of headroom — even with the optional panoramic moonroof. The seat cushion and backrest aren’t adjustable in two-row models, but legroom is adequate. A two-seat third row is optional.

Smart Technology

Compared with the dual-screen control systems in some other Land Rovers, the Defender’s single 10-inch dashboard touchscreen and the physical air conditioning controls below it are refreshingly simple to use. The display runs Land Rover’s new Pivi Pro multimedia system, which has easy-to-navigate on-screen menus, crisp graphics and an intuitive navigation system.

The system also includes wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity. CarPlay started immediately when I connected my phone to the USB port, and it makes the most of the widescreen display by using all the screen’s width.

 

Our Defender 110 had no shortage of ports for devices, with USB-A and USB-C ports in front and four USB ports in the second row. Two ports can be had in the backs of the front seats to charge tablets mounted on the optional Click and Go holders.

Practicality Shortcomings

Some of the Defender’s design elements create usability problems. While forward visibility is good and the front roof pillars are relatively thin, wide B-pillars restrict over-shoulder views, and rear visibility is partially obstructed by the full-size spare tire mounted on the swing gate. A rearview camera mirror that can display a feed of what’s behind the SUV — eliminating the blind spot created by the spare tire — is available.

That swing gate is a nod to the previous Defender, and even though it’s a good place to store a large, heavy wheel and tire that would otherwise rob interior space (or compromise off-roading if affixed to the undercarriage), there’s a reason you rarely see them anymore. Swing gates can be difficult to fully open when parallel-parked, and ones like the Defender’s, with passenger-side hinges, block curbside access to the cargo area when open.

What’s the 2-Door Defender 90 Like?

The Defender 90’s ride quality is impressive, and only the roughest roads unsettle it. The ride is comfortable, controlled and refined with the air suspension, and the SUV feels stable at highway speeds. Even with its shorter wheelbase, it rides about as well as the four-door 110 version. There’s noticeable squat under hard acceleration and nosedive when braking, but it’s more tolerable than what you can experience in a Toyota 4Runner, for instance.

The mild-hybrid six-cylinder drivetrain feels just as strong in the slightly lighter Defender 90 as it does in the 110. Mash the gas pedal on the highway and the automatic transmission readily kicks down, the hood lifts toward the sky and the SUV barrels forward. The supercharged V-8 engine that joins the Defender’s powertrain lineup for the 2022 model year is likely a blast to drive, but the six-cylinder drivetrain should satisfy most buyers for less money. The mild-hybrid drivetrain also gets better gas mileage: 19 mpg combined versus 16 mpg for the V-8, according to EPA estimates.

The Defender 90’s backseat accommodations were a pleasant surprise. The seating position is comfortable for taller people, and there’s plenty of legroom and headroom. The large side windows offer good views out, too. However, getting to the rear bench seat isn’t easy; the front seats motor forward slowly, and climbing back there isn’t a graceful experience. There’s minimal cargo space behind the backseat, and the seat doesn’t fold flat with the cargo floor.

Our Defender 90 had an available power-retractable fabric roof, a relatively uncommon feature. The fabric retracts over the rear seat, giving you a bit of an open-air driving experience, but it doesn’t feel like you’re in a convertible with its top down; there’s still a lot of SUV around you. The closed fabric roof also lets in more noise than a panoramic moonroof, which the Defender also offers.

Safety and Driver-Assistance Features

The Defender hadn’t been crash-tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as of publication.

Standard active-safety features include forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, blind spot intervention, lane-keeping assist, a driver-attention monitor and a 360-degree camera system. Adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability is optional.

Value in Its Class

The base four-door Defender comes with its share of premium features as standard equipment, including an adaptive air suspension, a 360-degree camera system and wireless device charging. There are some downmarket features, too, like painted steel wheels and fabric seating surfaces. You could make a case that those more basic features make sense for off-roading, but it doesn’t change the fact that the Defender starts at more than $50,000. There aren’t any other mid-size luxury SUVs like it, though, and that uniqueness is part of the Defender’s appeal — whether you need its off-road capability or not.

(https://www.cars.com/articles/2020-land-rover-defender-review-tough-luxe-430665/)

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