The team at Nissan Sunderland Plant are celebrating building their 11 millionth vehicle since production started in 1986.
The milestone means that, on average, a new car has rolled off the line every two minutes, every hour of every day, for 37 years.
The 11 millionth car was a Blade Silver Qashqai e-Power, one of three electrified models currently built at the plant. The first car, built in 1986, was a white Nissan Bluebird, which took about 22 hours to build. Today, a top of the range Qashqai e-Power takes about 8.5 hours.
“This milestone reflects the vast experience that our world-class manufacturing team has in delivering the quality cars that our customers love,” said Adam Pennick, Vice President, Manufacturing, at Nissan Sunderland.
“We’ve come a long way since production first started with some iconic models on the way. But we’re always looking forward, and our fully electrified range and EV36Zero plan mean we have an exciting and sustainable future ahead.”
The 11 million is made up of nine different models, with 22 variants. Four models, Qashqai, Micra, Primera and Juke have gone past seven figures, with Qashqai the all-time highest at more than four million.
Last year Qashqai was the UK’s best-selling new car – the first British built model to win the award in 24 years.
The UK’s largest car manufacturer by volume, Sunderland Plant is home to a workforce of about 6,000 people. Nissan also supports a further 30,000 UK jobs in the supply chain, with about five million parts arriving every day at the plant.
We test drive the new hybrid version of the much-improved Nissan Juke – the compact crossover designed, developed and manufactured in the UK.
Cards on table time – I was never a fan of the original, pioneering Nissan Juke. Launched in 2010, its looks were at best challenging, and I didn’t like the way it handled.
All that changed in 2019 when the second-generation Juke was introduced. Not only did the design switch from weird to funky, but it drove much better, there was more interior space and quality was stepped up.
Fast forward three years and Nissan has launched a full hybrid (or self-charging) version of the Juke, which is claimed to deliver 25% more power and 20% less fuel consumption.
Priced from £27,250 to £30,150, the newcomer uses much the same hybrid powertrain as the Renault Captur E-Tech hybrid, taking advantage of Nissan’s alliance with the French car maker.
The Japanese firm supplies the 1.6-litre engine (93bhp) and electric motor (48bhp), while Renault provides the gearbox, high-voltage 15kW starter-generator and 1.2kWh water-cooled battery.
The combined 141bhp of power is sent to the Juke’s front wheels via a six-speed automatic gearbox and it can “sprint” from 0-62 mph in 10.1 seconds.
More importantly, the car can return up to 56.5mpg, while CO2 emissions are as low as 114g/km.
Exterior changes include more aerodynamic bodywork to improve airflow and reduced drag, ‘Hybrid’ badges on the front doors and the tailgate, plus a black-gloss grille featuring the new Nissan logo, as seen on the larger Nissan Qashqai.
Other tweaks include keyless entry and two new colours (Ceramic Grey and stunning Magnetic Blue).
The new Juke Hybrid also offers new two-tone 17-inch alloy wheels and a 19-inch design inspired by those fitted to the upcoming Nissan Ariya electric SUV.
Inside, it gains a new set of dials behind the steering wheel. A power gauge replaces the rev counter so you can monitor regenerative charge and battery charge level.
There are three selectable drive modes (Eco, Normal and Sport), plus an EV button. The Juke Hybrid can be run on pure electric for a maximum of 1.8 miles at speeds of up to 35mph and Nissan reckons it will travel on battery power for up to 80% of the time around town.
There’s also an ‘e-Pedal’ button which allows the movement of the car to be controlled using just the accelerator pedal. When the driver’s foot is lifted from the accelerator, moderate braking is applied, and the car will decelerate to a crawl of around 3mph. This regenerative braking also helps to recharge the battery.
Boot space is reduced by 68 litres compared to the regular 1.0-litre petrol turbo Juke, because of the larger battery pack. However, there’s still a decent 354 litres, or 1,237 litres when the rear seats are folded down.
The cabin is a pleasant surprise thanks to the overall uplift in build quality and materials. Yes, there are some hard plastics used down below, but up top it’s mostly soft-touch, attractively designed (in a busy, old school sort of way) and has a solid feel.
Unlike most crossovers, I was able to achieve a decent driving position because it’s possible to lower the seat more than usual. What’s more, I could sit behind myself, if you get my drift. The only slight negative is that the Juke’s waistline rises at the back, so smaller rear-seat passengers will struggle to see out of the windows.
The ride is on the firm side, but it’s perfectly comfortable and cruises nicely, while body roll is kept in check.
There’s plenty of poke from the electrically assisted engine and the switch from electric to petrol power, and vice versa, is seamless.
The automatic gearbox works well enough, though the shifts are laboured when you put your foot down. It’s also worth noting that there are no paddles behind the steering wheel to hurry things along.
There’s plenty of grip up front, the steering is light and responsive, and it generally feels planted.
Our road test took in a mixture of city, motorway and country driving and we achieved around 45mpg, but I’m sure 50mpg is achievable on a longer, more relaxed run.
In other words, it’s not the most economical compact full hybrid out there, but every little helps.
The Juke is already well equipped, so there’s full connectivity (Android Auto and Apple CarPlay) and the latest safety features including Traffic Sign Recognition, Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), Lane Departure Warning, High Beam Assist and Hill Start Assist.
Our test car was also fitted with ProPilot – an advanced driving assistance technology that takes care of the steering, accelerating and braking on major roads.
Overall, the second-generation Juke is a huge improvement on the original, while the new full hybrid option is the icing on the cake.
Verdict: Thanks to the addition of hybrid technology, there’s never been a better time to switch to a Nissan Juke. Extra power and better economy complement the already practical, comfortable, well equipped and fun to drive compact crossover that it is. Well worth a test drive.
We road test the newest addition to Hyundai’s growing family – the Bayon baby SUV…
I feel a bit sorry for the Hyundai Bayon. Not only has it been saddled with a name* which means nothing to most UK buyers, but it was introduced at around the same time as Hyundai’s acclaimed Ioniq 5 EV and Tucson SUV.
In other words, this worthy compact crossover – which will do battle with the likes of the Nissan Juke, Seat Arona, Ford Puma, Renault Captur and Skoda Kamiq – missed out on the launch limelight.
First impressions are mixed. Let’s be charitable and describe the design as bold. A huge grille sits below thin headlights, there are sharp creases down the side and it has an angular rear end with tall tail-lights and a thin horizontal light bar.
Inside, it’s much the same as the i20 hatchback, the car on which the Bayon is based. The dashboard is attractive enough and sensibly laid out with top versions getting a pair of clear and crisp 10.25-inch digital screens – a digital driver’s display behind the steering wheel and a central touchscreen which takes care of media, navigation and car settings.
Naturally, it’s Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatible, while Hyundai’s BlueLink smartphone app allows owners to connect with the car remotely, checking its location, status and sending routes to the sat nav for their next journey.
The Bayon range is priced from £20,530 and there are three trim levels offered: SE Connect, Premium and Ultimate.
There’s only one engine available – a 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol (99bhp or 118bhp) with the choice of a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic transmission.
The engine has 48-volt mild hybrid assistance and the more powerful version paired with the auto gearbox is capable of a 0-62mph in 10.4 seconds and a top speed of 115mph. Fuel consumption is as high as 53.3mpg, while CO2 emissions are as low as 119g/km.
My 118bhp test car in Ultimate spec came with a six-speed manual transmission and a ticket price of £24,780.
Top trim means there’s plenty of kit, including black gloss door mirrors, two-tone black roof, keyless entry and a Bose sound system, on top of the rear view camera, privacy glass, heated front seats and steering wheel found on entry-level models.
There’s lots of safety and driver assistance equipment too including AEB (autonomous emergency braking), Blind Spot Collison Warning and Lane Follow Assist, Lane Keeping Assist and automatic high beams. Ford the record, it achieved a creditable four out of five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests.
The Bayon is surprisingly spacious inside with room for two adults in the back, though space for your feet below the front seats is limited. The boot is a reasonable 334 litres, expanding to 1,205 litres with the rear seats flipped down, and there are smaller storage spaces dotted around the cabin.
My only gripe is that there’s too much scratchy, hard plastic used around the cabin.
I’m glad I was able to try the clever manual gearbox, which is marketed as an intelligent Manual Transmission (iMT).
Apparently, there’s no physical link between the clutch pedal and the clutch and it allows the engine to switch off temporarily while coasting, reducing emissions and saving fuel.
The system seems to work well enough on the move, though sometimes there is a hesitation with the stop-start when engaging first gear in slow moving traffic.
That said, the clutch is light, and the gear lever has a pleasant short throw, even if it is a bit notchy at times.
The engine is more punchy than the performance figures suggest, and more importantly for many, it’s smooth and refined when up to speed.
You can choose between three drive modes (Eco, Normal and Sport). Eco is fine for motorway runs on cruise control (50mpg is achievable), but Normal is the best all-rounder and will do just fine, because Sport simply adds weight to the steering.
With its light controls and raised driving position, the Bayon makes sense as an urban crossover choice.
It would be wrong to call its firm ride sophisticated, but it’s comfortable enough.
It’s light up front, so grip level is moderate in the wet or on a loose surface, but overall it handles well and body control is decent. So, while it’s not as engaging to drive as some rivals, it ticks plenty of boxes for most buyers.
Verdict: The Hyundai Bayon is an honest, competitively priced, boldly-styled new entrant in the busy compact crossover segment. Well equipped, easy to drive, practical and economical, it comes with an appealing five-year unlimited mileage warranty.
*Just so you know, the Bayon name is inspired by Bayonne, the capital of the French Basque country in the south-west of France.
If you’re looking for a new compact SUV, you’re already spoilt for choice – so is there room for the latest Honda HR-V?
Well, Honda is on a roll. The futuristic all-electric Honda e city car is a revelation, and the new Jazz is a supermini transformed.
Now magic dust has been sprinkled on the HR-V. The third-generation model is a bold, hybrid-only “coupe-crossover” up against formidable rivals including the Renault Captur, Nissan Juke and Toyota Yaris Cross.
Priced from £27,960, it combines a 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine with two electric motors, producing 129bhp. Uniquely, at low speeds the battery pack and main electric motor drive the front wheels directly. At higher speeds the petrol motor kicks in.
Unlike its dowdy predecessor, the new self-charging hybrid HR-V has real kerb appeal.
A pair of slim headlights and an impressive body-coloured grille form the new HR-Vs face. It also looks more purposeful thanks to big wheels, an extra 10mm of ground clearance than before, rugged plastic cladding and roof rails. It even comes equipped with hill descent control.
There’s a high seating position inside the HR-V, which is generally spacious and comfortable. It also has a quality feel thanks to the soft-touch surfaces used, while the doors close with a satisfying clunk.
Unlike some of its rivals, there’s plenty of space in the back for passengers. However, the boot is a slightly disappointing 319 litres (expanding to 1,305 litres with the rear seats flipped), but there is a nice wide opening.
Of course, the HR-V also benefits from Honda “magic seats” which can fold flat or flip up like a cinema seat, enabling large items (like bikes) to be stored centrally in the car without compromising boot space.
Up front there’s a 7.0-inch digital driver display behind the steering wheel and a 9.0-inch central touchscreen for the infotainment system, which has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring as standard.
The modern dashboard is less cluttered cabin than before, and mercifully hasn’t dispensed with too many buttons, switched and dials.
The ‘e:HEV’ (Honda-speak for the self-charging hybrid engine) starts off in electric mode and you get a choice of three driving modes: Econ, Normal and Sport.
Econ is fine for cruising, but a little gutless on flowing country roads, so you’ll probably spend most of your time in Normal with the occasional “blast” in Sport.
The HR-V is generally refined and the transition between combustion and electric power is pretty seamless, but if you’re too heavy with your right foot, the downside of its CVT automatic transmission rears its ugly head and the revs sky-rocket.
To Honda’s credit, it doesn’t take long for the din to settle down again, but it’s a reminder that you should drive smoothly for an enjoyable HR-V driving experience.
Even with that proviso, the HR-V does feel swifter than the official figures suggest. For the record, it can “sprint” to 62mph in 10.6 seconds before maxing out at 107mph.
On the road there’s a little body lean in more challenging corners, but overall it handles well. It feels substantial, safe and secure. Add excellent visibility and light steering and it’s a doddle to drive in town.
Grip is surprisingly good too, while the brakes are more progressive than many hybrids. Sadly, there’s no four-wheel drive version available.
Honda claims CO2 emission levels are as low as 122g/km, while fuel economy of up to 52mpg is possible. In fact, we found 50-60mpg is very realistic when the HR-V is driven sensibly.
All three trim levels come with Honda’s impressive ‘Sensing’ suite of safety technology as standard, featuring road departure mitigation, traffic sign recognition, lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, automatic headlights and autonomous emergency braking (AEB).
Regenerative braking (which returns much of the energy otherwise lost from braking and coasting back into the battery while you’re driving) is also on offer. Simply select ‘B’ mode on the transmission or use the paddles behind the steering wheel. The system is especially satisfying on downhill stretches of road.
Verdict: The all-new Honda HR-V e:HEV is a welcome addition to the busy compact SUV sector, offering a winning blend of style, safety, comfort, economy and practicality combined with generous equipment levels and the brand’s reputation for reliability.
What are your key considerations when choosing a new car – practicality, running costs, connectivity or safety?
The reality is that looks tend to trump all of the above, which is why kerb appeal is so crucial.
Now, they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I’d argue that the all-new Mokka is the coolest looking Vauxhall ever.
Putting aside the argument that Vauxhall’s DNA isn’t what is, because it’s now owned by the giant Stellantis group which was formed from the merger of France’s Groupe PSA (Peugeot, Citroen) and FCA (Fiat, Jeep etc), the Mokka urban crossover is a stand-out vehicle.
Battling it out against the likes of the big-selling Nissan Juke and Renault Captur, the good news for the Mokka is that it has an ace up its sleeve – it’s available with a choice of petrol and diesel engines, plus a 100% electric variant.
Our focus is on the latter – the Vauxhall Mokka-e – which is competitively priced from £30,540 (after the £2,500 PiCG, or plug-in car grant) and boasts a decent 201-mile electric range.
Sharing the same underpinnings as the Citroen e-C4, Peugeot e-2008 and DS 3 Crossback E-Tense (which is no bad thing), it looks like no other car on the road.
In a nutshell, the second-generation Mokka is radical compared to its dumpy predecessor. Slightly shorter, it has smaller front and rear overhangs and a more athletic stance.
It also features the bold new brand ‘face’ of Vauxhall (known as Vizor) which “organically integrates the grille, headlights and badge into one dramatic sweeping module”.
Call me old fashioned, but being able to view that long, horizontal bonnet with the strong centre crease as you drive along is such a unique pleasure these days.
Inside, the cockpit is futuristic and minimalist. Dominated by a large central infotainment screen (7″ or 10″) and digital driver’s display (10″ or 12″), there’s a real step-up in build quality throughout the cabin.
The pure electric Mokka-e has a 50kWh battery and a 134bhp electric motor that powers the front wheels and delivers 260Nm of instant torque.
It can be charged overnight if you have a home wallbox, while 80% of charge can be reached in as little as 30 minutes using a rapid 100kW public chargepoint. A more common 50kW fast charger will deliver around 100 miles in less than half an hour.
In real-world terms, we reckon the battery range is closer to 175 miles in everyday driving, while Vauxhall calculates the Mokka-e’s running costs are from 3p a mile.
The cabin is comfortable with plenty of space up front, even offering a lower, sporty driving position if you prefer. It’s a little tighter in the back for adults, while the boot has a useful 310-litre luggage capacity, expanding to 1,060 litres with the rear seats folded.
The Mokka-e is simple to drive and silent (none of the faint whine or audio enhancement you get with many EVs), and while it’s swift, it’s not stupidly fast. For the record, it can complete the 0-62mph sprint in 8.5 seconds.
If you want a bit of fun, then switch the drive mode from Normal or Eco to Sport, but apart from the odd blast, you’re more likely to want to squeeze out as many miles as possible.
The benefit of a smaller battery pack is that it’s easier to see instant results from regenerative braking (which returns most of the energy from braking and coasting back into the battery while you’re driving) and the Mokka-e’s system is particularly satisfying.
With light steering and good visibility, it’s a doddle to drive and surprisingly nimble. However, because it’s more comfort than performance focused, it loses its composure when pushed on more challenging roads.
Broadly speaking, electric vehicles’ brakes tend to be disappointing and the Mokka-e is par for the course. Our test car’s system didn’t seem to be terribly progressive, but did the job.
Ultimately, even if the Mokka-e looks sportier than it actually is, it’s still a refreshing sight on our roads – especially in Mamba Green. Rivals include the MINI Electric, Honda e, Fiat 500 and Mazda MX-30.
Verdict: The Vauxhall Mokka-e is a funky, all-electric urban crossover that dares to be different. Affordable, well-equipped, safe and fun to drive, it has a unique charm.