Volkswagen Tiguan R review

Volkswagen Tiguan R review

When you’re driving an ever-increasing amount of hybrid and electric vehicles, it’s refreshing to review a car with no eco pretensions – just a good, old-school car aimed at petrolheads.

To be exact, the Tiguan R is the performance version of Volkswagen’s mid-sized SUV that’s attractive, practical, well-equipped, fully connected and apparently a hit on the school run.

Presumably, VW wants to repeat the success of the Golf R, which is still a benchmark for hot hatches. If so, it very nearly succeeds because the Tiguan has never been so engaging to drive.

https://www.volkswagen.co.uk/

Under the bonnet is a potent version of Volkswagen’s venerable 2.0-litre petrol turbo engine, here making 316bhp and 310lb ft, combined with four-wheel drive.

It’s suitably swift with a 0-62mph time of just 4.9 seconds, while top speed is an electronically limited 155mph.

As you’d expect, the Tiguan’s eco credentials aren’t quite so hot. Fuel consumption is 28.5 mpg, while CO2 emissions are up to 225g/km.

Volkswagen Tiguan R Review

If you behave yourself behind the wheel, then 30mpg is possible, but it’s hard to resist having fun in the R, while ‘Sport’ as the default drive mode doesn’t help!

So, what do you get for your £46,220? For starters, it’s available in trademark Lapiz Blue paint (unique to R models).

Plus, it comes as standard with 21-inch alloy wheels, sportier front and rear bumpers, matte chrome door mirror covers, four epic exhaust tips, LED headlights and keyless entry.

Volkswagen Tiguan R Review

Inside, there are supportive heated sports seats, a new steering wheel with gear-shift paddles, multi-coloured mood lighting, R badging and an ‘R’ mode button which lets you quickly engage the sportiest driving mode without having to access the infotainment screen (which sadly incorporates the new touch sensitive climate control panel first seen on the latest Golf).

Other than that, it’s much the same as a regular Tiguan, which means it’s generously equipped, spacious front and back, plus a healthy 615 litres of storage capacity (1,655 with the rear seats folded).

Volkswagen Tiguan R Review

Set off and the first thing you notice is the engine note, which is augmented via the audio system. It certainly sounds the part in the faster drive modes, but if you’re not a fan of fake noise, then there is a setting to switch it to ‘Pure’.

Slightly lower and stiffer than a regular Tiguan, it feels planted on the road, hides its size well and body lean is kept to a minimum in faster corners.

Volkswagen Tiguan R Review

The engine is equally impressive. Responsive and smooth with plenty of torque, it’s possible to squeeze out some entertaining pops and crackles when down-changing in the faster drive modes (as well as the road-going Comfort, Sport, Race and Individual modes, there are also Off-Road and Off-Road Individual modes).

The DSG box is as efficient as ever, pumping through the gears, while the new torque vectoring differential (nicked from the Golf R) helps the four-wheel drive system send power to the wheels that have the most grip, enabling you to make tighter turns at speed.

Volkswagen Tiguan R Review

In fact, grip and traction on more challenging roads is superb, while the steering is light and accurate.

Ultimately, it’s not as nimble and engaging as a Golf R, but Volkswagen has made a great attempt to add some dynamism to the Tiguan SUV – its biggest global seller.

Verdict: The Volkswagen Tiguan R is a mid-sized family crossover with serious attitude, boasting badge appeal, performance and practicality. If you can live with the ticket price and relatively high running costs, it should definitely be on your hot SUV shortlist.

Volkswagen UK

Volkswagen Tiguan R Review

Vauxhall Mokka-e review

Vauxhall Mokka-e review

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.

Vauxhall Mokka-e review

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.

Vauxhall Mokka-e review

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”.

Vauxhall Mokka-e review

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.

Vauxhall Mokka-e review

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.

Vauxhall Mokka-e review
Vauxhall Mokka-e review

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.

Vauxhall Mokka-e review

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.

Vauxhall Mokka-e review

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.

Vauxhall

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

Ford Mustang Mach-E review

Ford Mustang Mach-E review

The all-new, all-electric Mustang Mach-E is a big deal for Ford.

The Blue Oval may be late to the EV party, but this SUV is worth the wait with its combination of style, performance, driver engagement and practicality.

Starting at £41,330 and rising to £67,225, the Mach-E is available with rear or all-wheel drive, and with two different battery sizes delivering a range of up to 379 miles.

Ford Mustang Mach-E review

And while its “pony” badging and sculpted design are a nod to Ford’s iconic Mustang car, the similarity ends there because this EV muscle car is smooth, silent and emits zero emissions.

Your choice of Mach-E will depend on your priorities. The Extended Range with rear-wheel drive has the longest range (379 miles), while the quickest is the GT version (0-62mph in 3.7 seconds).

I tested the Mach-E AWD Extended Range (arguably the best all-rounder in the line-up), which competes with everything from the Volkswagen ID.4 and Skoda Enyaq to the Jaguar I-Pace and Audi e-tron.

Ford Mustang Mach-E review

Powered by a large 88kWh battery pack and a pair of electric motors (one on each axle), it delivers 346bhp and 580Nm, allowing an impressive 0-62mph time of 5.1 seconds.

Range on this model is officially up to 355 miles, but in everyday driving, 300 is achievable, while a typical charge of 10-80% can be reached in as little as 45 minutes via a rapid 150kW DC charger.

To look at it another way, it’s possible to add 73 miles in 10 minutes, though many owners will simply plug in from home and charge overnight.

Ford Mustang Mach-E review

I found the mileage covered matched the indicated range well in everyday motoring, though clearly the miles remaining will take a hit during winter and if you take full advantage of the performance available.

Naturally, the Mach-E’s acceleration is instant and rapid, and not quite as unnecessarily gut-wrenching as some electric rivals.

You can choose from three drive modes: Active, Whisper, and Untamed. Active is your default setting, Whisper is “the most relaxing way to enjoy Mustang Mach-E” and Untamed unleashes the car, sharpening the steering, enhancing the throttle response and boosting the fake interior engine noise.

Ford Mustang Mach-E review

Despite its two-tonne weight, the Mach-E feels surprisingly agile on more challenging roads, delivering a degree of driver engagement often missing in the EV sector.

Body control is impressive, thanks to the relatively firm suspension set-up, meaning it will stay flat in faster corners. Traction is superb, as is the grip, while the steering is swift, just as you’d expect from any Fast Ford.

Meanwhile, the brakes are strong and more progressive than some – a weak point in many EVs.

Ford Mustang Mach-E review

However, technology hasn’t been allowed to completely sanitise the driving experience, because even in all-wheel drive form, it’s possible to get the rear to step out.

Whether you agree with Ford’s decision to market this SUV as a Mustang or not, there’s no denying that the muscular styling is distinctive and there are enough design cues to legitimise the comparison with the automotive icon.

Signature elements include the long, powerful bonnet, rear haunches, mean headlights and trademark tri-bar tail-lights.

Ford Mustang Mach-E review

The Mach-E’s designers should also be commended for having the confidence to go their own way n certain areas. For instance, the door handles don’t pop out. In fact, there are no handles. Instead, you press a button on the B or C pillars and pull a streamlined ‘E-Latch”.

Inside, there’s a 15.5-inch portrait-mounted infotainment touchscreen in the centre console, plus a smaller 10.2-inch digital cluster behind the steering wheel for basic driving information, such as speed, battery percentage and remaining range.

Ford Mustang Mach-E review

Apart from screens, the cabin has a familiar Ford feel, so while it’s a pleasant and comfortable enough place to be, it doesn’t quite have the premium feel of some competitors.

That said, there’s plenty of space for five adults, while boot capacity is a useable 410 litres (expanding to 1,420 litres of space with the rear seats flipped). The front trunk (frunk) has a further 81 litres, though in practice this is the best place to store your charging cable.

Ford Mustang Mach-E review

So, all in all, the Mach-E is an impressive addition to the electric SUV scene. And frankly, when your biggest gripe is subjective (I couldn’t find a comfortable spot to rest my left foot), it’s a job done well.

Verdict: Ford’s first fully-fledged electric car has been worth the wait. With its combination of kerb appeal, driving dynamics, practicality and long range, the Mustang Mach-E is one of the most accomplished EVs in the crossover sector. Sometimes it’s fashionable to arrive late to a party.

Ford UK

BMW X2 PHEV review

BMW X2 xDrive25e plug-in hybrid review

It’s not the BMW X2’s fault, but not long before I tested out the new plug-in hybrid version of this distinctively-styled, low-slung crossover, I was driving the latest BMW 330e saloon.

Re-reading my review, I concluded: “Frankly, it’s hard to criticise the 330e because it’s an almost perfect embodiment of a PHEV.” No pressure, there then for the X2.

However, the reality is that the difference between these BMW siblings is night and day, which is disappointing because I have a soft spot for the X2 – a car that dares to be different.

BMW X2 xDrive25e plug-in hybrid review

For starters, the 330e pairs a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine (181bhp) and an electric motor powered by a lithium-ion battery, resulting in a combined output of 249bhp (or 289bhp for short bursts using the new ‘Xtraboost’ feature hidden in the Sport driving mode).

Opt for the rear-wheel drive model and the 0-62mph benchmark is reached in 6.1 seconds, while the xDrive four-wheel drive version is 0.2 seconds faster. Either way, top speed is 143mph and it has a pure electric range of up to 37 miles.

The X2 xDrive25e (yep, it’s a mouthful) isn’t far behind in the performance stakes, combining a three-cylinder 1.5-litre petrol turbo engine – also found in the MINI range – with an electric motor, producing 217bhp in total.

BMW X2 xDrive25e plug-in hybrid review

Four-wheel drive (xDrive) is achieved via the combustion engine powering the front wheels and the electric motor, which sits on the rear axle, while 0-62mph takes 6.8 seconds and it has a top speed of 121mph.

So, on paper the X2 PHEV is no slouch. More importantly for most buyers, it’s especially appealing for company car drivers looking to make significant tax savings because its vital CO2 emissions are as low as 39g/km.

What’s more, it can run in 100% EV mode for up to 32 miles and it has a theoretical fuel economy of 166.2mpg.

BMW X2 xDrive25e plug-in hybrid review

Sadly, the 330e also shows up the X2 PHEV’s deficiencies. Everything from the dated interior to the way it handles.

Let’s start with the dashboard and infotainment system, which looks old school by today’s standards. As the 330e illustrates, things have rapidly moved on, so the plethora of dials and buttons seems odd, as does the CD slot, while adding postcodes to the sat nav using a daisywheel function via the rotary selector dial next to the gear lever is almost 20th Century.

Oh, yes, and it has a long-throw auto gear selector with gaiter, unlike the latest BMWs which are blessed with a tactile, stubby shift knob. Add the analogue dials in the instrument binnacle and it’s almost retro.

BMW X2 xDrive25e plug-in hybrid review

The X2 PHEV’s power delivery is punchy and it handles well enough – just not in the way we’ve come to expect from a BMW. Engineered more for comfort and economy than driver engagement, and not quite as refined as I would have hoped for, my week driving an X2 xDrive25e left me underwhelmed.

That said, as a sporty-looking, practical, eco crossover it makes absolute sense.

There’s room for five adults, and even though the battery eats into the X2’s boot capacity (reducing it from 470 to 410 litres), it’s still a useful space and it expands to 1,290 litres with the back seats flipped.

BMW X2 xDrive25e plug-in hybrid review

And like all plug-in hybrids, if you keep the battery charged (it takes 3-5 hours) and if you have a modest daily commute, your visits to the service station will be few and far between.

Priced from £39,390, the BMW X2 is up against some strong competition in the SUV premium PHEV sector, including its “little” brother (the X1), the Volvo XC40, Range Rover Evoque and Audi Q3.

Verdict: Ultimately, the sporty-looking BMW X2 is a perfectly acceptable plug-in hybrid crossover, blessed with low running costs, top build quality and everyday practicality. Just don’t expect the ultimate driving machine.

BMW X2 xDrive25e plug-in hybrid review