Cupra Formentor review

Cupra Formentor review

You’ve got to hand it to Cupra, SEAT’s sporty spin-off brand. To take a generic SUV like the Ateca and transform it into a bold, head-turning coupe-crossover is no mean feat.

In fact, the first fully-fledged Cupra model looks like nothing else on the market in its price bracket.

Athletic with a sculpted profile, muscular wheel arches and an elegantly extensive bonnet, it’s longer and sits lower than most school-run SUVs.

Cupra Formentor review

Add Cupra’s trademark copper-coloured alloy wheels, distinctive badge and full-width rear light bar, and you have a car that oozes kerb appeal.

Priced from £28,270 and available with 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre turbo petrol engines, plus a 1.4-litre plug-in hybrid, there’s something for everybody.

Our range-topping test car (badged 2.0 TSI 4Driven) developed 306bhp, sported four-wheel drive, a seven-speed DSG auto gearbox and a ticket price just north of £40,000.

Cupra Formentor review

With a 0-62mph time of 4.9 seconds and a top speed of 155mph, the performance figures speak for themselves.

The claimed fuel economy of 31.4-33.2mpg (you’ll have to restrain yourself in real-world driving to hit 30mpg) and CO2 emissions of 193g/km also tell a story.

However, this version of the Formentor is all about power and handling, so if you want to ease your eco conscience, opt for the plug-in hybrid.

Cupra Formentor review

It’s a class act inside too with subtle copper flourishes throughout, leather upholstery, soft-touch surfaces and supportive sports seats, plus it’s hard to fault the build quality.

A bright and clear 12-inch touchscreen is the nerve centre of an otherwise smart, fairly minimalist dashboard. Like most other new Volkswagen Group cars, there’s a lot of swiping and prodding even to access the most basic of infotainment functions such as climate control, though we had some success with the voice control system.

On the plus side, as well as gear-shifting paddles, the sporty flat-bottomed steering wheel also incorporates a handy drive mode button, just like a Porsche 911 (a great shortcut for selecting for Sport).

Cupra Formentor review

Hit the Start button (also on the steering wheel) and the Cupra fires up, emitting a purposeful growl, though purists will whinge that it’s enhanced via the audio system.

Spacious with ample room for adults in the back and lots of space for stowing smaller items, it has a decent boot capacity of 450 litres, stretching to 1,475 litres with the rear seats folded.

On the road it feels every bit as fast as the stats indicate with plenty of torque on tap, while the dual-cutch transmission efficiently pumps through the gears.

Cupra Formentor review

Thanks partly to its low-slung design, the Cupra is as agile as it handsome, feeling more like an overgrown hot hatch than a 4×4.

Add sharp steering that’s quick and light at low speeds, a comfortable ride and serious amounts of grip, and you have a crossover that can be fun on more challenging roads, yet also effortless on longer hauls.

Cupra Formentor review

It’s safe too, achieving a maximum five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests. Standard safety features for the Formentor include Front Assist with auto emergency braking (AEB) and pedestrian detection, along with side and exit assist, emergency steering, junction assist, lane assist and e-call that will alert the emergency services if the car is involved in a heavy collision.

Verdict: In these days of generic SUV design, Cupra has dared to be different with its athletic Formentor coupe-crossover, which delivers dynamism, performance, practicality, style and the latest technology.

Cupra Official UK

Cupra Formentor review

Hyundai Tucson Hybrid review

Hyundai Tucson Hybrid review

The striking all-new fourth-generation Tucson is one of the new car revelations of 2021. Hyundai dares to be different and few SUVs can match the Tucson’s kerb appeal.

Featuring unique “hidden lights” and “jewel-like” running lights, plus an athletic profile and pert rear, it’s equally impressive inside.

Available with a conventional petrol engine, or as a self-charging hybrid, plug-in hybrid or mild hybrid, the Tucson is priced from £28,100 to £41,975.

Hyundai Tucson Hybrid review

We tested the self-charging hybrid (listed as the Hyundai Tucson 1.6 T-GDi 230ps Hybrid) in top spec Ultimate trim. Priced at £37,135, it came with a six-speed automatic gearbox and a Tech Pack, including Electronic Control Suspension, Around View Monitor, Blind Spot View Monitor and Remote Smart Park Assist.

The beauty of the hybrid power unit is that it gives increased performance and reduced emissions without the need to plug in.

Combining the instant torque of a 44.2kW electric motor with the output of a four-cylinder 1.6-litre turbo, the 1.49kWh lithium-ion polymer battery can be charged on the move via regenerative braking during downhill stretches of road and braking.

Hyundai Tucson Hybrid review

Most impressively of all, the hybrid powertrain switches seamlessly between the petrol engine and electric motor – sometimes utilising both at the same time.

Take a glance at the dashboard and the little ‘EV’ light flashes up for significant amounts of time, especially when cruising, which is particularly satisfying.

Like all self-charging hybrids, the battery is big enough for short bursts of fully electric driving in stop-start traffic, along with silent parking manoeuvres.

Hyundai Tucson Hybrid review

You can also select drive modes. The default Eco is fine for everyday driving, while Sport adds an extra level of response and control for more challenging country roads.

The total petrol/electric power output of 227bhp, with 195lb ft of torque, is ample, resulting in a 0-62mph time of 8.0 seconds and a top speed of 120mph.

CO2 emissions are as low as 131g/km, while fuel economy is officially up to 49.6mpg. You can get close to that figure when cruising, but 40-45mpg is a more realistic figure in everyday driving.

Hyundai Tucson Hybrid review

The self-charging hybrid is front-wheel drive (you’ll have to opt for the plug-in hybrid if you want 4×4) and doesn’t feel any the less for it.

There’s a surprising amount of grip up front, decent traction and it feels agile when pushed, even if the engine is slightly more vocal. Add light, accurate steering and decent body control, and it’s a great all-rounder.

So, the Tucson is the business on the road, and the good news is that it’s no less impressive inside the cabin.

Hyundai Tucson Hybrid review

Generously equipped, just about all physical knobs and buttons have been eliminated in the cool interior which is dominated by a 10.25-inch infotainment screen in the sleek centre console and a driver’s digital instrument cluster the same size.

There’s plenty of space in the rear for tall adults to travel comfortably, while the boot capacity is a healthy 616 litres, expanding to 1,795 litres with the rear seats folded.

Hyundai Tucson Hybrid review

Build quality is superb and goodies such as electrically operated, heated and ventilated front seats, plus a KRELL premium audio give it an upmarket feel.

The Tucson scored a maximum five stars in Euro NCAP testing and is packed with safety kit, including a Blind Spot View Monitor. Simply activate the indicator and you can see a live camera view of the left or right-hand side of the car on a screen in the digital cluster.

There’s also Highway Drive Assist – a semi-autonomous system which combines lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, map data and sensors to deliver speed and steering adjustments when driving on the motorway.

Hyundai Tucson Hybrid Sounds of Nature app

For novelty value, go to Media on the infotainment screen, activate the ‘Sounds of Nature’ and choose a relaxing ambient background soundtrack. Options include Calm Sea Waves, Lively Forest, Warm Fireplace, Rainy Day and Open-Air Cafe.

Verdict: Hyundai is knocking on the door of some premium rivals with the dramatic all-new Tucson Hybrid. Safe, spacious, well equipped, refined and engaging to drive, it’s a superb SUV package and a real step-up from its predecessor. Add Hyundai’s generous five-year warranty and it’s a tempting proposition.

Hyundai UK

Subaru celebration as 20 millionth AWD drive vehicle is manufactured

Home / Auto Blog / Subaru celebration as 20 millionth AWD drive vehicle is manufactured

Gareth Herincx

4 days ago
Auto Blog

Subaru Forester e-Boxer review

Subaru has reached a major milestone with the total production of its All-Wheel Drive (AWD) vehicles surpassing 20 million vehicles.

The feat was achieved in the 49th year since the company introduced the Subaru Leone 4WD Estate Van, Japan’s first mass-produced AWD passenger car, in September 1972.

Subaru Leone 4WD estate van

AWD models currently account for 98% of Subaru’s global sales, and all of those AWD models feature the Subaru Symmetrical AWD system fitted with the horizontally-opposed “Boxer” engine.

The most distinctive feature of Subaru’s Symmetrical AWD is a symmetrically-laid-out drivetrain paired with a longitudinally-mounted Boxer engine positioned in line with it.

Subaru’s Symmetrical AWD system

Subaru claims the combination of the low centre of gravity provided by the Boxer engine and the superior weight balance of the symmetrical drivetrain maximises stability and traction intrinsic to all-wheel drive, offering superb driving performance in a variety of weather and road conditions.

Read our recent review of the impressive all-new Subaru Forester e-Boxer.

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Gareth is a versatile journalist, copywriter and digital editor who’s worked across the media in newspapers, magazines, TV, teletext, radio and online. After long stints at the BBC, GMTV and ITV, he now specialises in motoring.

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Suzuki Jimny LCV review

Suzuki Jimny Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV)

We get to grips with the new commercial version of the iconic Suzuki Jimny

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin with a back story to put the launch of the Suzuki Jimny Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV) into context.

The Suzuki Jimny has been with us since 1970 and some three million have found homes around the world.

During that time the dependable little 4×4 has developed a huge fanbase and is popular with both urban dwellers, country folk and serious off-roaders.

Suzuki Jimny Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV)

The current fourth generation car was launched to widespread acclaim in 2018, winning the World Urban Car trophy at the prestigious 2019 World Car Awards, amongst others.

However, it was dropped from the UK market last year because of strict emissions legislation – a real shame for the Japanese car manufacturer because it was a huge hit, with demand outstripping supply.

Now, Suzuki has reintroduced the Jimny as a light commercial vehicle, with the original vehicle’s rear bench seat removed to provide a flat loading bay and an 863-litre boot capacity.

Suzuki Jimny Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV)

Only available in “very limited numbers”, it will cost private customers £19,999, though some businesses will be able to pay £16,796 if they can reclaim the VAT.

The new Jimny “van” looks the same as the outgoing “passenger car” from the outside (cute and rufty tufty). Inside, the only other obvious clue that this is no ordinary Jimny is the black mesh cargo partition that prevents items flying into the front cabin.

There’s just one trim level available, so it’s not quite as well equipped as before. The dashboard and steering wheel are the same, but there’s no centre touchscreen this time round, for instance.

Suzuki Jimny Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV)

There are a few goodies all the same, including air conditioning, DAB radio, autonomous emergency braking (AEB), 15-inch Black steel wheels and cruise control with speed limiter.

Overall, the no-fuss interior is practical with wipe-clean surfaces and suitably placed grab handles for those mini adventures.

Most importantly of all, it’s still equipped with ALLGRIP PRO selectable 4WD with low transfer gear, 3-link rigid axle suspension, hill hold and descent control – the ingredients that help give this lightweight SUV its legendary off-road ability.

Suzuki Jimny Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV)

Powered by a punchy four cylinder 1.5-litre petrol engine producing 101bhp, it comes with a five-speed manual gearbox. Fuel economy is up to 36.7mpg, while CO2 emissions are 173g/km.

Business users will need to know that it has a maximum payload and braked towing weight of 150kg and 1,300kg respectively.

We were treated to an exclusive first drive of the new Jimny off-road in deepest South Wales, though there was a little tarmac to sample its road-going manners, at an event to celebrate Suzuki’s rich and diverse history.

From its origins in textile manufacturing a century ago, Suzuki now sells 3.7 million cars and two million motorcycles every year, while its quad bikes and marine outboard engines are highly regarded globally.

How does it drive?

True to the 4×4 legend that the Jimny is, the LCV version is a real mountain goat of a vehicle, capable of reaching places other SUVs five times the price can only dream about.

Our Jimny coped effortlessly with steep inclines, thick mud tracks and water obstacles at the challenging Walters Arena vehicle development and test centre between Neath and Merthyr Tydfil.

It’s still not fast or a particularly sophisticated drive on the road, but there’s no denying its big personality and serious kerb appeal. In short, it’s one of those rare vehicles that puts a smile on your face the moment you set off.

Suzuki Jimny Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV)

Of course, the Jimny LCV is not perfect. It’s cosy up front and the addition of the partition restricts rearward travel of the seats, making legroom a challenge for taller drivers.

Its modest 120kg maximum payload might be an issue if it’s used as a van, but perhaps the biggest problem is that it’s a strict two-seater, which cuts families out of the equation, for instance.

The reality is that with limited numbers available, the initial allocation of Jimny LCVs will be snapped up in no time, just like the passenger car version, with many finding their way onto the second-hand market at inflated prices.

Verdict: The two-seater Suzuki Jimny Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV) is a dream come true for enthusiasts – and some of these “vans” may even have to earn their keep. Ultimately, it’s an affordable mini SUV that lives up to its superb off-road pedigree and can still put a smile on your face.