EVs dominate European Car of the Year shortlist

Home / Auto News / EVs dominate European Car of the Year shortlist

Gareth Herincx

1 day ago
Auto News

Kia EV6 review

The shortlist of seven for Europe’s prestigious Car of the Year 2022 award has been announced – and only one of the vehicles is not pure electric.

The final group has been whittled down from 38 eligible candidates. Second-stage voting takes place in the new year, with the winning car announced in Geneva on February 28.

The magnificent seven are the Cupra Born, Ford Mustang Mach-E, Hyundai Ioniq 5, Kia EV6, Peugeot 308, Renault Megane E-Tech and Skoda Enyaq. Of these, only the Peugeot is not 100% electric.

Recent ECOTY winners include the Toyota Yaris (2021), Peugeot 208 (2020), Jaguar I-Pace (2019) and Volvo XC40 (2018).

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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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Peugeot-Young-EV-Drivers-Challenge

It’s official: EVs are easier to drive

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Fiat 500 Electric review

Fiat 500 Electric

It’s safe to say that the all-new, all-electric Fiat 500 is one of the cutest and charming EVs on the market.

Fighting it out with the likes of the Honda E and MINI Electric in the zero emissions city car category, it’s available as a hatchback or convertible and is competitively priced from £20,995 to £30,995 (after the £2,500 UK Government grant).

The entry-level model comes with a small 24kW battery and a “city range” of up to 115 miles, while other versions get the bigger 42kW “long range” battery pack, capable of up to 199 miles.

Fiat 500 Electric

Just as importantly, the 42kW Fiat 500 has significantly more range than its top rivals, yet is very comparable in price (from £25,995).

The 500’s grown up in more ways than one too, because not only is it packed with the latest tech, it’s also slightly bigger, while its retro cool design stays true to the first two generations of this iconic people’s car.

The electric motor paired with the 42kWh battery generates 118hp (95hp for the smaller 24kW) and acceleration is 0-62mph in nine seconds (9.5sec for the 24kW).

Fiat 500 Electric

The new 500 isn’t as dinky as it was, growing in every direction, but it’s still unmistakeably a ‘cinquecento’ with some clever modern touches inside and out.

Perhaps the biggest change is inside the cabin where it’s more spacious up front, along with a minimalist look. There a large digital display ahead of the driver, while the centre console is dominated by a 10.25-inch touchscreen.

There’s a little more space in the back, but it’s still only really adequate for small people, while the boot remains at 185 litres (expanding to 550 litres with the rear seats folded).

Fiat 500 Electric

Safety also takes a leap forward, with autonomous emergency braking, lane keeping and traffic sign recognition all standard, with goodies such as blind-spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control available higher up the range.

The 500’s cabin is a comfy place to be with a fairly high driving position. Personally, I’d prefer a lower option, but I guess there’s a battery pack below which scuppers that notion. My only other gripe was the lack of a place to comfortably rest my largely redundant left foot.

On the road, it’s smooth and refined, like most electric cars, and you can easily choose the level of braking regeneration (charging on the move) you prefer.

Fiat 500 Electric

Accelerating from a standing start is brisk rather than supercar fast, but still enough to win the traffic light grand prix with ease.

The Fiat 500 EV is perfect for urban driving and holds up well on faster, twisty roads too, but it hasn’t got the go-kart handling of a MINI Electric, for instance.

That extra height means it not quite as composed in more challenging corners, but it’s still a fun and easy car to drive overall.

Fiat 500 Electric

As you’d expect in a city car, the steering is light and there’s a tight turning circle, though visibility isn’t best in class. Thankfully, rear parking sensors are standard, while top trims get a rear-view camera and offer a bird’s eye view of the car manoeuvring.

You can try various drive modes, but ultimately your choice will depend on the strength of your inner Scrooge and whether squeezing out as many miles as possible is more important than driving dynamics. At the end of the day, there is a happy medium.

Fiat 500 Electric

Finally, the Fiat 500 EV can be charged from 0-80% in a very respectable 45 minutes using a 50kW fast charger, or overnight at home.

Verdict: The iconic Fiat 500 has been reimagined for the zero emissions age. Not only does it ooze kerb appeal, but it delivers a fun, comfortable and safe driving experience at an affordable price.

Fiat UK

Hyundai signs its biggest TV sponsorship deal

Home / Auto Blog / Hyundai signs its biggest TV sponsorship deal

Gareth Herincx

4 hours ago
Auto Blog

If you’re planning to watch a movie on Channel 4 over the next year, it’s more than likely that you’ll become familiar with the all-new Hyundai IONIQ 5.

Hyundai Motor UK is bringing to life its largest ever TV sponsorship deal with new creative that transforms everyday city scenes into mobile cinematic experiences, powered by IONIQ 5.

The first model in Hyundai’s EV-exclusive IONIQ sub brand, IONIQ 5, features in an 11-part series of idents, highlighting the innovative standard interior features of the all-electric car.

Each one includes a specifically commissioned soundtrack by award-winning composer and producer, Anna Meredith, 2020 shortlisted artist of the Hyundai Mercury Prize.

Hyundai_IONIQ5_Channel4_sponsorship

Using unique Vehicle-to-load (V2L) technology featuring on IONIQ 5 models, Hyundai plugged a portable projector into the car and pointed it out the passenger window to celebrate iconic cinematic genres.

From a cowboy cantering along the side of a road to a flying saucer landing down the side of a tower block, the projections were filmed for real and enhanced in post-production. Other than the projector, no modifications were made to the car when capturing the footage.

Hyundai Ioniq 5 Channel 4 sponsorship

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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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Kia EV6 review

Kia EV6 review

We test the all-new Kia EV6 – an electric car that’s more than just eye candy

Kia has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to electrification – from the EV version of the quirky Soul in 2015 to the game-changing e-Niro of 2018, plus hybrids along the way.

Now the South Korean car company is on the money again with its EV6 – Kia first’s electric-only vehicle with a 300-mile plus range.

At launch the futuristic fastback is available as either a 321bhp four-wheel-drive (dual motor) or a more affordable 226bhp rear-drive (single motor). The usable battery capacity is 77.4kWh, regardless of which configuration you choose.

Kia EV6 review

The single motor has the greatest range (328 miles compared to 314 miles). The top speeds for both are 114mph, while the 0–60mph time for the four-wheel-drive version is 2.1 seconds faster at 5.2 seconds.

Charging from 10-80% takes as little as 18 minutes via 350kW ultra rapid charger (it’s future-proofed with 800-volt charging infrastructure). A more common 50kW charger will take one hour 13 minutes, or if you can plug-in at home (7kW) it will take seven hours 20 minutes.

Priced from £40,840 to £51,840, its rivals include everything from the Ford Mustang Mach-E to the Jaguar I-Pace, Polestar 2, Tesla Model 3, Volkswagen ID.4 and its cousin, the Hyundai Ioniq 5.

Kia EV6 review

A smidgen smaller than an I-Pace, the boldly styled EV6 also shares the stubby nose, short overhangs, pop-out door handles and big wheels of the Jag.

Inside, it’s spacious and slick, with plenty of room for five adults. Our only gripes are that we’d like the driver’s seat to lower a little more and rear visibility could be better.

Elsewhere, there’s a generous 490 litres of space in the deep, but shallow boot, expanding to 1,300 litres with the rear seats folded.

Kia EV6 review

The EV6 also features extra storage at the front – a front boot, front trunk, or ‘frunk’ – providing an additional 52 litres of storage space for RWD models and 20 litres for AWDs – more than enough space for charging cables.

Inside the cabin it has a classy feel and it’s well put together, but there are more hard plastic surfaces than we would like.

On the plus side, it is trimmed in a range of sustainable materials, such as “vegan leather” seats, and sections of the dashboard and centre console are clad in recycled plastics, equivalent to 107 plastic 500ml water bottles per car.

Kia EV6 review

There’s a large, curved touchscreen on top of the dashboard, alongside a digital driver’s display. Both are 12.3-inches and feature Kia’s usual clear graphics. Generally, it looks state-of-the-art and delivers a good mix of dials, buttons and touchscreens.

Standard equipment with the entry-level EV6 includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, LED lights, heated front seats and steering wheel, sat-nav based smart cruise control and autonomous emergency braking (AEB).

Goodies further up the range includes wireless smartphone charging, privacy glass, blind-spot collision warning, a panoramic sunroof, remote smart park assist, a powered tailgate, a 14-speaker Meridian audio system and a head-up display.

Kia EV6 review

On the road the EV6 is comfortable, refined and turns heads for all the right reasons. There really is nothing like it on the market at present.

We tested both the single and dual motor versions and frankly there’s not much between them. If money is no object and the loss of 14 miles of range makes no difference, then go for the all-wheel drive version which is a tad faster and offers extra traction.

A button on the steering wheel allows you to choose between Sport, Eco and Normal drive modes. Normal is just fine and Sport is fun for overtaking, while Eco is strictly for Scrooges and motorway runs.

Kia EV6 review

The steering wheel paddles let you choose between six levels of regenerative braking, the last of which switches to “one-pedal” driving, which harvests maximum energy when you lift off the accelerator, bringing the car to a stop without touching the brakes.

The EV6 does a decent job of hiding its two-tonne weight, feeling agile and staying flat in faster corners. However, when really pushed the crossover origins it shares with the Hyundai Ioniq 5 are more obvious. No doubt the upcoming GT version will unleash the EV6’s full dynamic potential.

Kia EV6 review

That said, the steering is light enough in town, yet adds weight at speed, while the brakes are more progressive than many an EV.

No car is perfect and the EV6 is no exception, but it’s still an impressive all-round package with a range far exceeding many premium rivals.

Verdict: The all-new, all-electric EV6 is another great value game-changer from Kia – a winning blend of style, performance, practicality, technology and long-range capability.

Kia Motors UK

Volvo C40 Recharge review

Volvo C40 Recharge

Volvo is doing its bit to save the planet, and it has an ambitious plan for a zero emissions future.

By 2025, 50% of its global sales will consist of fully electric cars. By 2030, it aims to sell only EVs before turning “climate neutral” 10 years later.

The Swedish car maker’s latest model, the C40 Recharge, is a case in point. It’s electric-only (there will be no petrol or hybrid variants) and it’s manufactured using a variety of sustainable materials.

Volvo C40 Recharge

For instance, the carpets are made from 71 recycled plastic PET bottles, and thanks to renewable wool fibres, it’s the first Volvo to feature leather-free upholstery.

You could even say the car itself has something of a recycled feel to it because it shares its EV powertrain and much of its body with the XC40 – Volvo’s big-selling SUV.

Unlike its sibling, it’s sleeker with a lower roof line and steeply-raked rear window, while the front end introduces a new face for electric Volvos. Here, the signature Thor’s Hammer headlights are augmented with pixel technology designed to avoid dazzling other road users.

Volvo C40 Recharge

It’s also fitted with the latest version of Volvo’s infotainment system, jointly developed with Google and based on the Android operating system.

So now there’s access to Google Play apps and services like Google Assistant and Google Maps. It’s also capable of over-the-air updates, which means the car is constantly kept up to speed with the latest software.

The voice commands (prompted by “Hey Google”) usefully cut down on the swiping, pinching and scrolling otherwise needed to control the features within 9.0-inch central touchscreen.

Volvo C40 Recharge

C is for Crossover and Volvo claims the C40 Recharge provides buyers with the high seating position that its owners prefer. The reality is that there’s very little difference between the siblings apart from the design.

And I don’t mean that in a bad way because the pure electric XC40 Recharge is a fantastic package, offering the combination of style, practicality, performance and a decent range of up to 259 miles.

The C40’s lower roof line looks smarter and makes it more aerodynamic, resulting in a higher range of 273 miles.

It also differs from other models in the Volvo range because it can only be bought online and it’s also available with a ‘Care by Volvo’ package (monthly subscription from £729) which offers a warranty, servicing and roadside assistance, as well as insurance and home charging options where available.

Volvo C40 Recharge

At launch there’s just one version of the C40 Recharge available with an eye-watering ticket price of £57,400, though in time we can expect other more affordable specs.

Like the XC40 Recharge, the C40 has twin electric motors – one on the front and one on the rear axle – and is powered by a 78kWh battery that can be fast-charged from 10 to 80% in about 40 minutes (via a 150kW rapid charger).

Inside the factory

We were given a quick tour of Volvo’s impressive state-of-the-art plant at Ghent in Belgium, where the C40 is assembled on the same production line as the XC40 and V60 estate.

Volvo C40 Recharge production line in Ghent, Belgium

Volvo is increasing EV capacity at the facility to 135,000 cars per year, and already expects more than half of the plant’s production volume in 2022 to consist of fully electric cars.

On the road, the C40 offers the same combination of blistering performance and polished road manners as the XC40 Recharge.

Developing a combined 402hp, it can sprint from 0-62mph in just 4.7 seconds, which is almost supercar fast. Plant your right foot on an A road and before you know it, you’re travelling at the legal limit.

Volvo C40 Recharge

The ride is smooth and refined, the light steering is sharp and it handles well for a relatively heavy crossover.

There’s surprisingly good body control in faster, more challenging corners and plenty of traction thanks to all-wheel drive.

The brakes are progressive, which is relatively rare in EVs, and the regenerative braking system (which recovers kinetic energy otherwise lost during braking to recharge the battery) works well, especially in one-pedal mode where a simple lift off the accelerator is usually enough to slow the car down without using the brakes.

Volvo C40 Recharge

Ultimately, the C40 is a smoothie, at its best cruising. And as most EV drivers will tell you, the challenge of squeezing as much range as possible out of the battery is irresistible, so apart from the odd burst of instant-torque acceleration, it’s more about economical driving.

I have a few criticisms. I would have liked some drive modes (no Sport or Normal – just one-pedal or not). And even though the C40 Recharge ticks lots of eco-friendly boxes, the lack of leather and Scandi chic wood veneers made the interior less special to me.

The lower roofline also results in a slight headroom penalty for rear passengers six-foot or over, while the rear window itself is more post box than panoramic, so the view behind is on the challenging side.

Volvo C40 Recharge

The C40 has less boot space than the XC40 Recharge, but there’s still a useful 413 litres of luggage capacity (down from 452 litres), or a total of 1,205 litres if you flip the 60/40 split rear bench (1,328 litres). That said, rear passenger legroom is generous.

Up front there’s a 31-litre compartment under the bonnet – ideal for storing charging cables. There are also plenty of storage spaces scattered inside the cabin for phones, water bottles and other clutter.

Needless to say, like all Volvos, the C40 is packed with the latest safety and driver assistance tech as standard, including lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear-cross traffic alert, autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and a 360-degree parking camera which makes it easier to get in and out of tight spaces.

However, at this price the C40 is up against tough EV competition – everything from the Hyundai Kona Electric, Skoda Enyaq and Kia e-Niro up to the Ford Mustang Mach-E, Polestar 2, Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron and Mercedes EQA.

Verdict: The stylish new Volvo C40 Recharge is a class act, blending performance, practicality and refinement with a good EV range and extensive safety features. At launch, the sole top-of-the-range model is on the expensive side, but in time the C40 will become more attainable as other variants are offered.

Volvo Cars UK