BMW X1 review

BMW X1

We road test the all-new BMW X1 – the ‘baby’ of the brand’s SUV family is bigger than before, and much better for it…

More than 119,999 BMW X1s have found homes in the UK since the model was launched way back in 2009.

Now it’s time for the third generation, and it’s a much improved proposition in every department.

Size is everything in the modern world and the new X1 is slightly bigger than its popular predecessor (53mm longer, 24mm wider, 44mm higher and 22mm in wheelbase), crucially delivering more space for passengers and their luggage.

BMW X1

So, just as the latest Volkswagen Polo is about the same size as the original Golf, the new X1 isn’t far off the Mk 1 BMW X3.

Sharing the same platform as the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer MPV, the overall shape of the Mk 3 X1 is chunkier with a greater road presence.

Up front, the large kidney grille is flanked by slim LED headlights. The side profile sports meaty wheel arches and fared-in door handles, while the rear boasts a pert tailgate, three-dimensional LED lights and underride protection.

Inside, the X1 features BMW’s impressive eighth generation iDrive operating system, which includes a 10.7-inch touchscreen infotainment system and a 10.25-inch driver’s digital instrument cluster.

BMW X1

The curved screen infotainment system is mainly operated via the touchscreen, voice commands and flush buttons on the steering wheel. There’s no longer a rotary controller next to the gear selector, which may annoy some, along with the general minimalisation of switches, buttons and dials.

Priced from £33,775, the new X1 is available with a range of petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid engines (with an EV range of up to 57 miles), while a flagship all-electric iX1 variant joins the family in early 2023.

BMW expects 66% of UK sales to be pure electric, 14% PHEV and the final 20% split between petrol and diesel.

We had a brief test drive in a prototype iX1, but spent most of our time in the xDrive23i, which features a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with 48V mild hybrid tech that makes 215bhp and is mated to BMW’s seven-speed Steptronic dual clutch transmission.

BMW iX1

Taking just 7.1 seconds to cover the 0-62mph dash, it delivers a claimed 42.2mpg with CO2 emissions of 151g/km.

The top-of-the range iX1 EV costs substantially more, has a 64.7kWh battery producing 308bhp, a claimed range of up to 272 miles, and it can polish off the 0-62mph sprint in a swift 5.6 seconds.

We tested the AWD xDrive23i in xLine and M Sport trim levels (there’s an entry-level Sport too), and a posh piece of kit it is too, with BMW’s usual top build quality and classy materials.

There’s a commanding view of the road from up front (I would prefer the option of a lower seating position), visibility is good, though the reversing camera (standard on all models, along with front and rear sensors) comes in handy when manoeuvring thanks to the slim tailgate window.

BMW X1

A special mention for the infotainment system, which is slick and sharp, along with the clear head-up display and augmented satellite navigation system which overlays upcoming directions on the touchscreen via big chevron graphics.

Refinement levels in the cabin are impressive, there’s plenty of grunt from the petrol engine, which is only vocal under heavy acceleration, while the sweet-shifting gearbox cracks on effortlessly.

The M Sport comes with adaptive suspension, and frankly the difference is marginal. Overall, the set-up is on the firm side, which is noticeable on bumpier surfaces, but not uncomfortable.

BMW X1

The pay-off is that the X1 delivers a more dynamic driving experience. With an agile feel, body control and grip levels are good in more challenging corners – whether you’re in Personal, Sport or Efficient drive modes. Meanwhile, the steering is light and direct, making town driving a doddle.

It’s worth noting that the M Sport gets shift paddles and the left one activates the Sport Boost, which delivers an extra 19bhp of power (useful for overtakes).

Of course, the iX1 is the one to go for if you can stretch to £52,255 and you have a home charger. It looks just like its petrol, diesel and PHEV siblings, but BMW’s entry-level electric car is a real smoothie.

BMW X1

Faster than it really needs to be (there’s a Sport Boost function too), it’s whisper quiet (once you switch off the irritating Hans Zimmer ‘IconicSounds’ digital soundtrack) and easy to drive.

Despite the fact that it weighs around 400kg more than its ICE stablemates, the boffins at BMW have done a great job hiding it, because the iX1 is nimble and fun.

The iX1 we tested has two electric motors, one driving the front wheels and one the rears. Needless to say, there’s excellent traction and it feels nicely composed.

Whether you go electric or not, BMW’s baby SUV is a practical proposition with plenty of space inside the cabin and superb leg and headroom in the back.

BMW X1

Boot space varies according to the degree of electrification, but peaks at 540 litres for the petrols and diesels (1,600 litres with the 40/20/40-split seats folded).

Finally, the X1 is safe too. Awarded a maximum five stars by  Euro NCAP, it’s packed with safety and driver assistance goodies as standard, including autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane departure warning and speed limit assist, plus an additional centre airbag between the driver and front passenger seats.

Premium rivals include the Audi Q3, Mercedes-Benz GLA, Lexus UX and Volvo XC40.

Verdict: The latest-gen BMW X1 goes straight to the top of the class with its winning blend of space, technology, driving engagement and quality. If you’re looking for a classy, compact family SUV, the X1 should head your shortlist.

BMW UK

BMW X1

Nissan X-Trail review

Nissan X-Trail review

We get to grips with the impressive all-new Nissan X-Trail SUV – now an electrified seven-seater…

The Nissan X-Trail is a global success story. Originally launched in 2001, more than seven million have been sold globally, making it one of the world’s most popular SUVs. In the UK alone, some 138,599 have found homes.

Now it’s the turn of the fourth-generation X-Trail, marketed as “the only electrified seven-seater SUV”.

However, there’s more to the new X-Trail than the optional extra seats. It’s everything you’d expect from a vehicle with such well-established DNA, but it also delivers state-of-the-art hybrid technology, versatile packaging, comfort and genuine off-road capability.

Nissan X-Trail

Priced from £32,030 to £47,155 and available as either a mild-hybrid or with Nissan’s unique ‘e-Power’ hybrid powertrain, the X-Trail is more than a match for its rivals which include the Skoda Kodiaq, Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorrento and latest Toyota RAV4 (though it only has five seats).

The X-Trail takes design cues from its smaller sibling, the Qashqai, including the brand’s signature ‘V-Motion’ trapezoidal grille.

Wider and taller than the outgoing model, it’s well-proportioned with a chunky, more muscular design. The extra cladding around the wheel arches and bumpers, slim headlights and big wheels (20 inches on our test car) give it real road presence.

Nissan X-Trail review

The interior of the new X-Trail is a big step-up too. Modern, spacious and bathed in light, it has a near-premium feel with classy materials and great build quality.

There’s a commanding view of the road from the comfy seats, and if you do have any qualms about manoeuvring into tight spaces, there’s ample tech on board to help you, whether it’s sensors or a 360-degree camera with Moving Object Detection.

Your choice of grade (from entry-level Visia to top-of-the-range Tekna ) will determine which goodies you get with your car, but we’d say the mid-range N-Connecta which gets the twin 12.3-inch displays up front, roof rails and privacy glass is a good choice.

Nissan X-Trail review

However, if you splash out on the next grade up (Tekna) you get a panoramic sunroof, electric tailgate, head-up display, wireless phone charger and ProPilot Assist with Navi-Link – an impressive suite of safety and driver assistance tech.

The top-of-the-range Tekna comes with 20-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels, a premium Bose sound system with 10 speakers and quilted leather seats.

Equipment and tech is one thing, but the big decision you have to make with the new Nissan X-Trail is which electrified powertrain to choose.

The entry-level option is a 161bhp 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol with mild hybrid assistance, which is only available with front-wheel drive.

Next up is the X-Trail e-POWER, which is Nissan’s take on a full hybrid (no need to plug it in). The drivetrain combines a 1.5-litre petrol engine of 201bhp with a 150kW electric motor on the front axle.

Nissan X-Trail review

Unusually, the petrol engine doesn’t drive the wheels at all – it simply acts as a generator to charge the 2.1kWh battery and power the electric motor, which is responsible for driving the wheels at all times.

The top-spec all-wheel drive (e-4ORCE) powertrain option uses the same e-POWER configuration, but adds a 100kW electric motor to the rear axle, increasing the X-Trail’s power output to 211bhp.

The stats for the three powertrains are predictable. Fuel economy on the mild hybrid is up to 39.9mpg, CO2 emissions start at 161g/km, while the 0-62mph sprint takes 9.6 seconds.

Nissan X-Trail review

The two-wheel drive e-POWER takes eight seconds to reach 62mph and can manage as much as 48.6mpg, while CO2 is as low as 132g/km.

Finally, the e-POWER with e-4ORCE is the fastest accelerating (7 secs), has CO2 emissions starting at 143g/km and fuel economy tops out at 44.7mpg.

Unless you need all-wheel drive, on paper the mid-range X-trail with e-POWER looks like it offers the best blend of performance and economy.

Perhaps what’s most surprising is that Nissan’s hybrid system produces economy figures which are not dissimilar to a conventional hybrid where a battery provides electrical assistance to a petrol motor which drives the wheels.

We tested the flagship e-POWER with e-4ORCE on a mixed driving route, which included some gentle off-roading and controlled automotive gymnastics – and it’s an impressive piece of kit.

Gareth Herincx Nissan X-Trail Slovenia

As you glide off, it’s immediately clear that the new Nissan X-Trail is no ordinary 4×4. The ride is smooth (even with the 20-inch wheels), the cabin is a comfortable and refined place to be, and it feels substantial.

Despite its large dimensions, it’s easy to drive with light and responsive steering. Hustle it a little and it remains remarkably composed.

Body lean is surprisingly well controlled in more challenging corners and there’s superb grip and traction – even on the rough stuff. In fact, it’s very capable off-road, demonstrating a surprising amount of agility in a serious of tests.

Gareth Herincx Nissan X-Trail Slovenia

It takes a while to get used to the sensation of the engine revving away in the background as it charges up the battery. The only time it makes its presence known is when you’re heavy with your right foot, especially on uphill stretches.

Though it’s reasonably vocal, frankly it’s nowhere near as intrusive as full hybrids using CVT transmission from other manufacturers.

Nissan says the X-Trail has a 10,000 times faster rear torque response than a mechanical 4WD system, adding that the constant torque redistribution also contributes to handling and ride comfort, enabling a powerful yet smooth, driving experience.

I’ll go along with that, because the X-Trail is an excellent all-rounder – just as content cruising on a motorway as it is soaking up the worst poor surfaces have to offer.

Nissan X-Trail

What’s more, the X-Trail has always been a favourite with caravanners, so the braked towing capacity of up to 2,000kg will be welcome.

Finally, let’s deal with one of the X-Trail’s USPs – that optional third row of seats. I’m a fraction under six-foot and I could squeeze into seats six and seven, but in order to travel any distance the second row would have to slide forward, which may in turn require some compliance from the driver and front passenger too.

So, I’d say the third row of seats is there for occasional use, preferably children and small adults.

With the third row of seats in use, the X-Trail’s boot has a capacity of 485 litres. In five-seat formation (where there’s ample space for three passengers) this increases to 585 litres, and with both sets of rear seats down there’s a cavernous 1,424 litres of space.

A quick mention too for the rear doors which open at an impressive 85-degree angle (just like a Qashqai) for easy access – useful for lifting small children into car seats, for instance.

Verdict: Smooth, refined, robust and easy to drive, the hybrid Nissan X-Trail is a class act. Offering a unique proposition in the SUV sector, it’s also surprisingly capable off-road and delivers big bang for your bucks.

Nissan UK

Genesis GV60 review

Genesis GV60

We road test the first pure electric car from the new, upmarket Genesis brand…

Before we begin, let’s start with a quick refresh. Genesis is the luxury arm of the Hyundai Motor Group, which also includes Kia. So, think Lexus/Toyota and DS/Citroen. Only launched in the UK in the summer of 2021, its impressive stable of prestige cars includes saloons, SUVs and an estate.

Up until now, the range hasn’t quite matched up to the equivalents from BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo.

The good news for Genesis is that we think the fully electric GV60 will go down as the brand’s breakthrough model.

Genesis GV60

Developed alongside its award-winning cousins, the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6, the GV60 is arguably the most successful of the trio in the looks department.

Slightly shorter than the Ioniq 5 and EV6, it’s nicely proportioned with a curvaceously muscular stance and short overhangs. There are flush-fitting door handles along its flowing profile, plus the option of rear-facing cameras instead of conventional door mirrors. Slim, stacked headlights and a broad black grille are highlights up front, while its sexy derrière is a candidate for Rear of the Year.

Priced from £47,005, the new Genesis GV60 is available in three trims (Premium, Sport and Sport Plus) and all versions come with a 77.4kWh battery, but different choices of electric motor.

Genesis GV60

It’s not worth listing the differences between the grades when it comes to goodies. Let’s just say, the GV60 is generously equipped, though obviously you should compare. Perhaps more importantly, it’s the technical differences that matter.

The GV60 Premium gets a single 225bhp electric motor that drives the rear wheels, giving up to 321 miles of range.

Sport versions come with dual motors producing a total of 314hp. These cars are four-wheel drive, but range is down to 292 miles.

Genesis GV60

The top-spec GV60 Sport Plus we tested gets a more powerful dual-motor setup that produces an impressive 483bhp in total, though range is down again to a still decent 289 miles on a single charge.

It’s worth noting that there’s a boost button on the Sport Plus which unlocks a 10-second blast of gut-wrenching power. Oh, and those 0-62mph times range from 7.8 seconds for the Premium down to 4.0 seconds for the Sport Plus.

The Genesis GV60 also comes with a state-of-the-art 800-volt electrical system that lets you charge it using ultra rapid 350kw chargers from 10-80% full in just 18 minutes.

Genesis GV60

Alternatively, a 10-80% charge via a more common 50kW connection will take 73 minutes, while a 10-100% boost from an 11kw home wallbox takes seven hours 20 minutes.

The cabin is spacious and faultlessly finished, though it’s worth test-driving the GV60 is you regularly carry taller than average rear passengers because of the sloping roofline.

Two wide 12.3-inch digital screens take care of infotainment duties, but thankfully there’s also a good balance of traditional buttons and dials to easily access commonly used functions.

Genesis GV60

The interior’s party trick is the gorgeous crystal ball in the middle of the centre console (Genesis calls it a ‘Crystal Sphere’) which revolves to reveal a rotating dial with Drive, Reverse, Park etc when the GV60 is ready to go.

The boot has a useful 432-litre capacity to the parcel shelf, expanding to 1,550 litres with the rear seats folded down. There’s also space under the bonnet – the perfect spot to store your charging cables.

My only criticisms of the cabin are that the brushed metal effect used extensively has a plastic feel to it – not unlike a much cheaper Hyundai. Also, visibility through the small rear window isn’t the best, and there’s no wiper.

Genesis GV60

The GV60’s driving position is comfortable, if fairly high, and the car itself certainly feels substantial.

Obviously it’s quiet, refined and very fast. The Sport Plus we tested had adaptive predictive suspension, which uses information from the front camera and navigation system to adjust damping in advance, delivering an impressively comfortable ride.

There’s good body control in corners, but ultimately the GV60’s agility will always be compromised by its width and two-tonne weight. In other words, you’d need some track time to have the confidence to take it close to the limit.

Genesis GV60

That said there’s a serious amount of grip and traction from those epic 21-inch Michelin-shod wheels, so you can still have fun and a play with the various drive modes.

We found Comfort mode does just fine and the GV60 is at its best cruising effortlessly along at the legal limit. Oh, and a special mention for the steering wheel paddles which let you vary the amount of brake regeneration through five levels, from frictionless coasting to one-pedal driving.

Finally, the steering is light and accurate, but there’s not much in the way of feedback, while the brakes are progressive, unlike many EVs.

Genesis GV60

Before we sign off, it’s worth remembering that Genesis is no ordinary brand, offering a completely different VIP ownership experience.

There are no dealerships. Instead, you visit a studio where you can interact with a Genesis Personal Assistant (GPA), who’s under no pressure to make a sale and is employed on a commission-free basis.

It’s hoped the GPA will remain a direct point of contact throughout your ownership experience, delivering cars for test drives and purchases, and collecting your car for servicing (providing a like-for-like Genesis while your car is away).

What’s more, Genesis’s 5-Year Care Plan includes servicing, roadside assistance, courtesy car, mapping and over-the-air software updates.

Verdict: The all-new Genesis GV60 is a class act. Big, practical, comfortable, safe and a joy to drive, it’s one of the best electric crossovers on the market with serious kerb appeal. Add the unique sales and aftercare package and it’s sure to appeal to buyers who prefer the finer things in life.

Genesis

DS 4 review

DS 4 review

Once in a while I get to road test a new car I know little about, and it proves to be something of a revelation. The stunning DS 4 is one such vehicle.

A cross between a hatchback and a compact crossover, the five-door DS 4  challenges everything from the Audi A3, BMW 1 Series and Mercedes-Benz A-Class to the Audi Q2, BMW X2 and Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class.

And if you’re new to DS Automobiles, then it’s probably best described as Citroen’s premium spin-off sister brand.

Sharing a platform with other Stellantis group cars (eg Citroen C5 X, Vauxhall Astra and Peugeot 308) the DS 4 is available with petrol and diesel engines, plus a flagship plug-in hybrid.

DS 4 review

Priced from £29,710 to £43,550, there are two trim levels (Performance Line and Performance Line ), plus a DS 4 Cross which complements the stylish design of the DS 4 with SUV-inspired styling cues, including side skirts, gloss black roof bars, front and rear skid plates and black bumpers.

You only have to look at the pictures to see that the DS 4 oozes kerb appeal. Its profile is rakish with a blend of smooth surfaces and elegant lines – there are also big wheels and flush-fitting door handles.

The front is dominated by a large diamond mesh DS grille, slim matrix LED headlights and sharp vertical, zig-zag LED running lights, delivering a unique lighting signature, while the rear gets a slim window and sexy rear light clusters.

DS 4 review

All in all, the DS 4 has an athletic stance and if cars were judged purely on style, it would go straight to the top of the class.

It’s the same story inside where there’s a classy, hi-tech feel mixed with top build quality. DS does things differently and the uncluttered interior is a treat with numerous clever design touches. Who else would have thought of integrating the electric window switches so beautifully into the top of the door trim?

A special mention for the seats too, which are easily the most comfortable you will find in this price bracket. There’s plenty of space too, though taller passenger in the rear may struggle for headroom if you opt for the panoramic sunroof which eats into the roof space. Boot capacity is a decent 430 litres, expanding to 1,240 litres with the rear seats folded down.

DS 4 review

Every DS 4 features a 7.0-inch digital driver’s cluster, plus a 10.0-inch central touchscreen which its flush with the dashboard, while higher trim levels get a head-up display that’s projected neatly onto the windscreen.

The infotainment system takes some getting used to, but after a while you get the hang of it. The home screen is customisable and there are short-cut buttons below, but sadly essentials like the climate control are not permanently accessible.

There’s also a twinkly 5.0-inch touchpad (‘DS Smart Touch’) down near the gear selector, which allows you to pre-set up to six shortcuts – each with their own gesture movement. It’s a bit gimmicky, but anything that avoids tapping and swiping menus on the main infotainment screen when driving must be a good thing.

DS 4 review

To summarise, the DS 4’s infotainment system isn’t without its frustrations, but it will grow on you. If nothing else, it’s a thing of beauty – like the rest of the cabin.

I tested the entry-level DS 4 Performance Line PureTech 130, which is fitted a 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol turbo driving the front wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox. It may sound weedy for a car of this size, but it’s surprisingly powerful.

Developing 128bhp, it’s a punchy little unit and a mainstay within the Stellantis group of cars (Vauxhall, Citroen and Peugeot too).

DS 4 review

On paper it’s capable of up to 48.6mpg, while CO2 emissions are as low as 132g/km. Top speed is 130mph and its 0-62mph time is 10.4 seconds.

There’s a pleasant thrum from the engine when pushed, but such is the refinement of the DS 4’s cabin, it’s hardly noticeable in everyday driving.

Naturally, it’s in its element darting around in an urban environment, but it settles down well on the motorway too. Push it on more challenging roads and the engine will become a little more vocal and it will run out of puff. There’s a slight hesitation getting off the mark sometimes, but generally it works well.

DS 4 review

If you want more petrol power, then move up to the 1.6-litre four-cylinder options, delivering 178bhp and 222bhp respectively, or the plug-in hybrid which offers up to 398.5 miles of electric only motoring.

The DS 4 rides smoothly and feels planted, while body lean is well controlled in faster corners. Just the job, considering this is a car that prioritises comfort over hot handling.

Drive it sensibly and it will deliver close on 50mpg on longer runs. What’s more, you’ll arrive at your destination more relaxed than many of its rivals.

DS 4 review

You’ll also feel special, because the DS 4 turns heads (for all the right reasons), the interior is a designer wonderland and it’s a joy to drive. The best DS I’ve driven yet, it deserves to succeed.

Verdict: Test drive the gorgeous DS 4 if you’re in the market for a premium five-door family car that stands out from the crowd and delivers a tempting alternative to its German rivals. One of 2022’s biggest surprises, you may just fall for its stunning design, classy feel, comfortable drive and twinkly charms.

DS Automobiles UK

All-new Kia Niro named 2023 ‘Car of the Year’

Gareth Herincx

2 days ago
Auto News

Kia Niro Hybrid (

The latest version of the Kia Niro has been named the best new car on sale by leading car buying advice website Carbuyer.co.uk.

The Niro, which is available with a choice of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fully-electric powertrains, scooped no fewer than three of the 18 categories on offer.

Carbuyer’s judges could hardly believe the transformation Kia has made with this second-generation Niro. Editor, Richard Ingram, said: “Our favourite small family car, our top hybrid, and of course our overall Car of the Year, the fabulous new Niro builds on everything we loved about the old one, but with sharper styling, and a cutting-edge interior.

“It remains a practical, efficient and easy to drive family car – with a powertrain to suit all buyers. The Kia Niro is a most deserving winner of our 2023 Car of the Year award.”

Kia wasn’t the only Korean manufacturer to make a splash at this year’s Carbuyer Best Car Awards. The Hyundai Tucson – Carbuyer’s overall Car of the Year just 12 months ago – was awarded Best Family Car, while the Hyundai i20 N scooped Best Hot Hatchback for the second year in a row. Finally, the SsangYong Musso was awarded the Best Pickup prize thanks to its strong value, practicality, and generous kit list.

Carbuyer Car of the Year 2023 winners 

Carbuyer Car Of The Year Kia Niro
Best Small Car Skoda Fabia
Best Small Family Car Kia Niro
Best Family Car Hyundai Tucson
Best Large Family Car Skoda Kodiaq
Best Estate Car Skoda Octavia Estate
Best Small Company Car Cupra Born
Best Company Car BMW i4
Best Sports Car BMW 2 Series Coupe
Best Convertible Car MINI Convertible
Best Hot Hatchback Hyundai i20 N
Best Hot SUV Cupra Formentor
Best Pickup SsangYong Musso
Best Small Electric Car Fiat 500
Best Family Electric Car MG ZS EV
Best Large Electric Car Nissan Ariya
Best Hybrid Kia Niro
Best Plug-in Hybrid Mercedes C 300 e
Best Large Plug-in Hybrid Lexus NX 450h

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