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

BMW 330e Plug-in Hybrid review

BMW 330e Plug-in Hybrid review

The impressive plug-in hybrid version of BMW’s popular 3 Series is one of the big sales successes of 2021.

With officially quoted CO2 emissions as low as 37g/km, the 330e is especially appealing for company car drivers looking to make significant tax savings.

It also makes sense for private motorists who are not quite ready to make the switch to a fully electric vehicle (EV), but still want to dip their toes into the future with a premium plug-in hybrid (PHEV).

BMW 330e Plug-in Hybrid review

With a pure electric range of up to 37 miles, it can handle short commutes on battery power alone, but long journeys are no problem either (372-mile range) thanks to its petrol engine. So, like all PHEVs, it offers the best of both worlds.

The BMW 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.

BMW 330e Plug-in Hybrid review

Priced from £39,125 and available as a saloon or estate (Touring in BMW-speak), the 330e comes in SE, Sport and M Sport trims.

Apart from a few additional features in the infotainment system, ‘330e’ badging and an extra ‘fuel’ flap on the front wing, the only PHEV giveaway is the size of the boot, which is down from 480 litres to 375 litres (thanks to the battery pack located under the rear seats) and the hybrid/electric buttons beside the gear selector.

Charging the battery to 80% takes 2.4 hours using a 3.7kW home wallbox, or 5.5 hours via a domestic three-point plug.

If you want to travel in near-silence with zero emissions, select Electric mode, avoid hard acceleration and don’t go over 68mph.

BMW 330e Plug-in Hybrid review

And if you run out of battery power, or simply fancy a blast, the switch from electric to petrol power is seamless.

Like most BMWs, the 330e offers a driver-focused driving experience. Not only is the power delivery responsive, but despite the extra 200kg compared to its petrol and diesel siblings, it handles just the way we’ve come to expect from this compact executive superstar.

In fact, more spirited drivers will relish tackling more challenging country roads in Sport mode, because the 330e boasts fantastic body control and superb agility.

BMW 330e Plug-in Hybrid review

Traction is impressive too, especially if you opt for BMW xDrive, while the brakes (so often a disappointment in PHEVs) are progressive and efficient.

The eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox is as slick as ever, while the steering is quick, predictable and nicely weighted,

Inside, the cabin is classic BMW – more business-like than flash – with a blend of premium materials and top build quality, combined with the ideal driving position.

BMW 330e Plug-in Hybrid review

The latest version of iDrive remains one of the best in-car infotainment systems on the market and is projected through a 10.25-inch screen nicely integrated into the dash

In theory, the 330e is capable of 176-201mpg, but the reality is that 50-60mpg is achievable during mixed motoring if you keep the battery charged up overnight and you can restrain yourself on the road.

However, if your driving consists of short commutes, your visits to the filling station will become rare occasions because you’ll spend most of your time in EV mode.

BMW 330e Plug-in Hybrid review

Frankly, it’s hard to criticise the 330e because it’s an almost perfect embodiment of a PHEV. Even if the modest boot space in the saloon is an issue, you can still opt for the Touring version instead, and while the four-cylinder engine is a little harsh when pushed hard, the car’s overall refinement is excellent.

Verdict: The BMW 330e Plug-in Hybrid is a class act – a winning combination of elegant looks, efficiency, driving dynamics and low running costs.

BMW 330e

Lexus UX 300e review

Lexus UX 300e review

Lexus was a part-electrification pioneer when it launched the RX400h self-charging hybrid SUV way back in 2004.

However, it’s taken until now for the premium car maker to bring its first all-electric vehicle – the UX 300e – to market.

Consequently, it’s a little late to the party, joining the likes of the similarly sized Kia e-Niro, Hyundai Kona Electric and Peugeot e-2008, to name but a few.

Lexus UX 300e review

Starting at £41,745, the Lexus has an official range just shy of 200 miles (190-196 miles, depending on the wheel size) and looks much the same as its hybrid sibling (priced from £29,955).

“Compact, classy, comfortable and economical, it’s engaging to drive, distinctive and oozes badge appeal,” was our conclusion when we reviewed the regular UX (Urban Crossover) in 2019.

In fact, our only gripes were the CVT gearbox (short doses of uncomfortably high revs on hard acceleration) and the infotainment screen which is accessed via a fiddly touchpad down beside the gear selector.

Lexus UX 300e review

The infotainment system is much the same in the UX 300e, but going all electric means there’s no need for a CVT because it’s a one-speed like all EVs, so the new model is a smoother operator.

For now there’s just one power option and three trims levels. A 201bhp e-motor and 54.3kW battery pack combine to power the front wheels and it’s good for a 0-62mph sprint time of 7.5 seconds.

The UX 300e can be fully charged at home in just over eight hours or via a 50KW public charger (up to 80%) in as little as 50 minutes.

Lexus UX 300e review

Naturally, it’s also (modestly) charged on the move via regenerative braking (the levels are controlled via steering wheel paddle shifters) which converts much of the energy lost while decelerating back into stored energy in the car’s battery.

Talking of charge, we found the UX’s real world range to be closer to 170 miles, though this figure will always depend on driving style, terrain, whether you use items such as the heater and the outside temperature.

To look at, the sleek electric UX is definitely one of the most stylish compact SUVs available.

Lexus UX 300e review

In fact, it looks like no other car in its class with bold, sculpted lines, a full-width rear lightbar, roof spoiler and that unmistakable Lexus mesh front grille.

Slightly lower than most competitors and sporting a coupe-like profile, it’s full of innovative features including wheel arch mouldings which not only protect the bodywork, but also have a secondary aerodynamic function, just like the rear lights and the special alloy wheels.

Inside, it oozes class. There’s plenty of room up front, though it’s not as spacious in the rear as some rivals, no is there much space to stick your feet under the front seats, thanks to the batteries below.

Lexus UX 300e review

Luggage capacity is a useful 367 litres (more than the hybrid UX) expanding to 1,278 litres with the rear seats folded.

The cabin itself is stylish, beautifully finished and very Lexus with superb attention to detail. Up front it’s very driver-centric with the instrument panel, switchgear and infotainment screen subtly angled away from the passenger.

Despite its batteries, the UX 300e feels light on the road and even swifter than the official acceleration figures suggest. In fact, in the wet, the traction control system struggles to stop the front wheels spinning if you really go for it.

Lexus UX 300e review

There is a Sport mode, but the difference isn’t that dramatic, and while body control in faster corners is fairly good, the overwhelming sensation is one of comfort and refinement, which again, is very Lexus.

Like many electric cars, the brakes aren’t massively responsive, though the steering is light, making it easy to drive around town.

The 300e is packed with safety and driver assistance systems, and when the hybrid UX was tested by Euro NCAP in 2019 it achieved a maximum score of five stars.

Lexus UX 300e review

And for extra peace of mind, it comes with the standard Lexus three-year/60,000 mile manufacturer warranty for the car, plus an eight-year/100,000-mile battery warranty.

Perhaps the 300e’s biggest challenge is its price point and range. For instance, it costs significantly more than the e-Niro and Kona Electric (which both have a range closer to 300 miles) and is even nudging the bigger Ford Mustang Mach-E and Tesla Model 3.

Verdict: Refined, comfortable and offering a premium experience, the all-electric Lexus UX 300e is a class act. With a range best suited to urban ownership, it’s easy to drive and stands out from the crowd, but it’s also up against some serious competition.

Renault’s drive for clean school air

Gareth Herincx

1 day ago
Auto News

More than half of drivers would be willing to take a different route on their regular commute, if it meant avoiding and reducing congestion outside schools, claims new data.

This congestion, which leads to vehicles sitting with their engines running (also known as idling), is a key contributor to poor air quality – and there are more than 8,500 schools, nurseries and colleges in England, Scotland and Wales located in areas with dangerously high levels of pollution.

The findings, which form the latest part of Renault’s ongoing “Be Mindful, Don’t Idle” campaign, also revealed that a third of motorists (37%) said they know of a different route which doesn’t involve driving by a school, while 39% said the reason for not driving a different way to avoid a school was because they do a set route.

Despite the improvement in air quality that could be achieved through such a detour, 62% of drivers who had an alternate route to avoid a school said they don’t take it as it adds more time to their journey.

“Be Mindful, Don’t Idle” 

An idling engine contributes the equivalent of 150 party balloons-worth of emissions unnecessarily into the atmosphere every minute.

Renault found idling during the school drop-off and pick-up is more common in urban areas – with 50.1% admitting to doing it – compared to 12% in rural locations. More than 28% of people of those who admitted to idling said they leave their engines running for 6-10 minutes.

Renault's drive for clean school air

Renault is a pioneer of zero-emission all-electric vehicles and is now Europe’s number one manufacturer for electric cars and vans.

In total, it sold more than 115,000 EVs across the continent in 2020, with the Zoe E-Tech 100% electric becoming the best-selling electric car (sales of more than 100,000).

It has broadened its electrified offering further to include the Renault Captur and Mégane Sport Tourer E-Tech plug-in hybrids as well as the Clio, Captur and All-New Arkana E-Tech hybrid.

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Seat Leon e-Hybrid review

SEAT-Leon-e-Hybrid

We’re already big fans of the fourth generation Seat Leon. In our 2020 review, we concluded that it’s “one of the most accomplished family hatchbacks on the market, offering affordability, economy, tech, refinement, space and driving pleasure”.

Fast forward to 2021 and the petrol and diesel models have been joined by a plug-in hybrid, delivering a potential 235mpg with CO2 emissions as low as 27g/km.

Using pretty much the same tried and tested system also seen in the Audi A3 40 TFSIe, Volkswagen Golf GTE and Skoda Octavia iV, a 1.4-litre petrol turbo engine is mated to a 12.8kWh battery and 85kW e-motor, giving a useful combined output of 201bhp, resulting in a 0-62mph time of 7.5 seconds and a 137mph top speed.

SEAT-Leon-e-Hybrid

Most importantly of all for some (especially if you use your car locally or have a modest daily commute), it can run electric-only for up to 36 miles.

In other words, as with all PHEVs, the Leon e-Hybrid offers an introduction to EV driving, without the range anxiety – the perfect stepping stone between the internal combustion engine and going 100% electric.

Apart from the extra fuel flap (for plugging into a charger) and modest badging, externally it looks much the same as a regular Leon – which is no bad thing, because it’s a stylish car.

SEAT-Leon-e-Hybrid

Open the hatch, and there’s more hybrid evidence. The Leon e-Hybrid has a supermini luggage capacity of 270 litres (down 110 litres on the standard petrol or diesel), because the hybrid battery pack takes up extra space. On the plus side, there’s a useful 1,191 litres when the rear seats are folded.

The cabin in unaffected, which means there’s room in the back seats for adults to sit comfortably. It’s generally well designed, and quality is good, but not outstanding. There are some soft-touch surfaces high up in the cabin, but – as you’d expect at the more affordable end of the market – there’s a lot of scratchy hard plastic lower down.

At launch there are five trim levels (FR, FR First Edition, FR Sport, Xcellence, Xcellence Lux) with price points between £31,835-£35,060. While this is competitive in its sector, it would be great if all manufacturers could start bringing the start price of PHEVs down closer to £25,000.

SEAT-Leon-e-Hybrid

That said, it’s generously equipped with 17-inch alloys, automatic headlights and wipers, a wireless phone charger, drive modes and safety features such as Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) all standard.

Goodies further up the range include adaptive cruise control, heated front seats and steering wheel, keyless entry and start, a digital driver’s display and tinted rear windows.

All models also get a flash 10-inch infotainment system, which gives the dashboard a more minimalist look, but the touchscreen contains a little too much basic functionality for our liking – even the temperature controls are integrated.

SEAT-Leon-e-Hybrid

The e-Hybrid starts up in electric mode and stays that way until the battery pack is flat. However, the engine will kick in if you floor the accelerator or you switch to hybrid mode, which combines petrol and electric power for better economy and battery life.

Like all PHEVs, it can also recharge via regenerative braking, which slows the car down and collects energy to charge up the battery and increase the vehicle range. That said, the most effective way is to plug it in at home overnight or use a public charger (both 4-5 hours).

With electricity costing around a third of petrol per mile, that’s cheap motoring. Add tax savings for business drivers and other perks such as lower Road Tax (VED) and exemption from the London Congestion Charge, running a plug-in hybrid makes sense.

SEAT-Leon-e-Hybrid

In the real world your fuel consumption will depend on a number of factors, such as whether you start your journey with a full battery charge, the temperature, your driving style, and the types of roads your encounter.

Seat quotes potential fuel economy of 235mpg, but the reality is that once you’ve used up the battery charge, you can end up with fuel economy comparable to a diesel (50-60mpg) – lower on long journeys.

SEAT-Leon-e-Hybrid

On the road, the e-Hybrid accelerates briskly and the switch from electric to engine power and vice versa is seamless.

Naturally, it’s almost silent when running in pure electric mode, while the 1.4-litre petrol engine is generally refined, but becomes a little more vocal when pushed.

SEAT-Leon-e-Hybrid

The ride is on the firm side, but not uncomfortably so, allowing it to stay composed and relatively flat in faster corners. It’s no hot hatch, but more spirited drivers can select Sport mode for a little extra fun.

It feels light and agile on the road, there’s plenty of grip and the steering is sharp. The six-speed DSG automatic gearbox fitted to our test car is one of the best, though not quite as punchy through the gears as we’d like.

It’s safe too – the e-Hybrid received a maximum five-star safety evaluation rating from Euro NCAP, just like its regular petrol and diesel stablemates, with AEB standard across the range and other driver assistance aids including Cruise Control and Lane Keep Assist available.

Verdict: Stylish, safe, economical, easy to drive and well equipped, the all-new Seat Leon e-Hybrid is a welcome addition to the plug-in hybrid family hatchback scene.

Seat UK

SEAT-Leon-e-Hybrid