Jeep Avenger review

Jeep Avenger

We get behind the wheel of the Avenger compact SUV – Jeep’s first battery-powered vehicle

Sharing an EV platform with its Stellantis group cousins – the Peugeot e-2008, Vauxhall Mokka Electric and DS 3 E-Tense – the all-new Jeep Avenger has caused quite a stir.

Not only is it the first Jeep to be created outside of America (designed in Italy, built in Poland), but it also marks the return of the Avenger name, which was once familiar to British buyers.

Jeep Avenger

Older readers might remember that it once ‘graced’ the Hillman Avenger family car (later Chrysler Avenger and Talbot Avenger), which was manufactured in the UK between 1970-81.

So, this all-new, all-electric baby Jeep is a talking point. It’s also an award-winner, because it’s already been crowned European Car of the Year 2023. So, no pressure there then…

Jeep Avenger

Starting at £35,700, it’s pitched right in the midst of a competitive sector. As well as its aforementioned in-house rivals, others include the Hyundai Kona Electric, Kia Niro EV, MG ZS EV and Honda e:Ny1.

There’s no doubt that the chunky and cute Jeep Avenger is one of the best lookers of the bunch with its classic crossover shape.

Sporting short overhangs and extra ground clearance, there’s plenty of Jeep DNA with the signature seven-slot grille, trapezoidal wheel arches, protective cladding and ‘X’ tail-lights.

Jeep Avenger

Initially available as just a single-motor front-wheel drive (a dual-motor 4×4 version is also planned) with 154bhp and 260Nm of torque, its 54kWh battery is good for up to 249 miles of range (342 miles in city driving), while a 0-62mph sprint takes 9.6 seconds.

The Avenger’s 100kW maximum charging speed means a 10-80% top-up should take just under 30 minutes. Naturally, it will also charge fully overnight if you have a home wallbox.

Jeep Avenger

Inside, there’s ample headroom front and rear, but it’s cosy in the back for passengers with longer legs. The Avenger’s 355-litre boot expands to 1,053 litres with the back seats folded, while accessibility is good.

The cabin itself looks pretty tough, but there are too many black plastic and hard surfaces, while the leather seats in our test car weren’t very forgiving.

It’s fairly minimalist up front, though thankfully there are shortcut buttons under the 10.25-inch central touchscreen for necessities such as climate control. There’s also Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality, plus a built-in TomTom sat-nav.

Jeep Avenger

The driving position is on the high side, and it would be nice to have the option to sit lower, but you soon adjust.

On the road it feels a bit quicker than the official acceleration figure suggests, thanks to the instant torque. Wind and road noise is well suppressed, even on poorer surfaces, which is a feat in itself, because EVs run so quietly and the slightest sound is noticeable.

Overall, the ride is firm, but it’s nimble and handles well. Body lean is kept in check on more challenging roads, while the steering is nicely weighted. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of pedal travel before the brakes bite, denting your confidence to push on.

Jeep Avenger - Gareth Herincx

You can’t adjust the brake regeneration level via paddles behind the steering wheel either – instead you have to select ‘B’ mode on the gear selector or drive in Eco mode.

Without spending a week or so with the car, it’s hard to estimate the Avenger’s real-world range, but we’d say around 200 miles is possible and this should increase in an urban environment.

And as you’d expect from a cool compact crossover, the Avenger is probably in its element in built-up areas. Easy to drive with a fairly tight turning circle of 10.5 metres, visibility isn’t bad either. And where it’s not perfect, there’s a good selection of cameras and sensors.

Jeep Avenger

What’s more, generous cladding around the car should help to cushion most car park dings, while the headlights and rear light clusters are slightly recessed, so that there’s less chance of damage there too.

In all, there are six driving modes: Eco, Normal, Sport, Sand, Mud and Snow. As ever, Normal is just fine, while Eco and Sport dull and boost throttle response respectively.

We tried some gentle off-roading and traction is improved slightly with Sand and Mud modes selected, which means it could be a next best after 4x4s in the snow.

Jeep Avenger

However, the forthcoming four-wheel drive model will be the one to go for if you have to tackle muddy fields and more extreme conditions on a regular basis.

With hill descent control, short overhangs and raised ride height, plus 20 degrees of approach angle and 32 degrees of departure angle, it certainly has off-road potential.

Finally, there are three well equipped trim levels (Longitude, Altitude and Summit) and there’s plenty of scope for personalisation thanks to various decals, body paints, contrasting ‘floating’ roof colours and accessories.

Verdict: We really rate the Jeep Avenger – an impressive debut EV from the iconic American brand. Compact, cool and competitively-priced, it has a useful range, good charging speed and is more rugged than most of its rivals.

Jeep UK

Jeep Avenger

DS 3 E-Tense review

DS 3 E-Tense review

Our first drive in the 100% electric version of the stylish five-door DS 3 compact SUV

Originally launched as the DS 3 Crossback in 2019, this chic crossover was initially available with a choice of petrol and diesel engines (a 100% electric variant following a year later).

Fast forward to 2023 and not only has the car dropped its “Crossback” monicker and received a facelift and other updates, but it’s now a straight choice between petrol or electric power.

We’ve never driven the EV version (marketed as the DS 3 E-Tense), so here’s how it shapes up. But first, a bit of background.

DS 3 E-Tense review

DS Automobiles split from Citroen to become an innovative premium brand way back in 2014. Since then, the two brands have become part of the huge Stellantis Group, which also includes Peugeot, Jeep, Alfa Romeo and Fiat.

DS’s competition department, DS Performance, has competed in Formula E since 2015, clinching the first team/drivers’ double world title in 2019.

DS Automobiles is now one of the premium arms of Stellantis with a fast-expanding range, and the new DS 3 E-Tense battles it out in a competitive compact SUV EV segment, though it’s arguably the most upmarket offering.

DS 3 E-Tense review

Not only is it up against its Stellantis cousins – the Peugeot e-2008, Vauxhall Mokka and upcoming Jeep Avenger – but also the MG ZS EV, Hyundai Kona Electric and Kia Soul EV.

On a technical level, the big change for 2023 is a larger 54kWh battery (up from 50kWh) and more power. As a result, the small electric SUV now offers a range of up to 250 miles (previously 212 miles).

Visually the DS 3 E-Tense’s subtle facelift delivers extra kerb appeal and improves aerodynamic efficiency.

DS 3 E-Tense review

The redesigned front end features new LED headlights and daytime running lights, plus a slightly larger diamond grille and new spoiler.

“DS Automobiles” is written across the boot, while the profile is as distinctive as ever with its shark’s fin rear window design and flush door handles. There are also new wheel designs and a total of seven body colours with contrasting roofs.

Inside, the most significant change is the updated infotainment system, which is easier to use than the previous version and it’s also more responsive.

DS 3 E-Tense review

There’s a 7.0-inch digital driver’s instrument display and 10.3-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity.

Elsewhere, the materials used have an upmarket feel. The watchstrap leather seats look especially cool and are very comfortable, but some of the quirky functionality does take some getting used to.

For instance, the switches to open the windows flank either side of the gear selector, while touch-sensitive short-cut buttons for the touchscreen, plus other essentials such as audio volume and heated seats, are all dotted around the central air vents.

DS 3 E-Tense review

For the record, there are four trim levels available – Performance Line, Performance Line , Rivoli and Opera.

The DS Safety Pack is also fitted as standard, and this includes autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane-keep assist and speed limit recognition – all helping to give the DS 3 a maximum five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP.

Space up front is good, but it’s less than impressive behind where there’s only just room for adults and visibility is compromised, especially for small children, thanks to the fins on the rear doors, high waistline and thick B pillars.

DS 3 E-Tense review

The boot is 350 litres, or 1,050 litres, with the rear seats folded. Not class-leading, but enough for the shopping or a modest amount of luggage.

With light steering and a ride that’s set up for comfort, the DS 3 E-Tense drives well.

Naturally, there’s plenty of torque, but it’s not gut-wrenching like some other EVs.

DS 3 E-Tense review

The single electric motor that drives the front wheels produces 154bhp and 192lb ft of torque, taking nine seconds to hit 62mph (maximum speed 93mph).

The smooth power delivery results in a refined cabin ambience that fits the car’s classy character well.

You can have fun in the DS 3 E-Tense because it’s nimble and responsive, but you will experience body lean in faster, more challenging corners, so best not to get carried away.

DS 3 E-tense

Traction is good overall, though it is possible to spin the front wheels on looser or wet surfaces if you plant your foot from a standing start.

Traction is good overall, though it is possible to spin the front wheels on looser or wet surfaces if you plant your right foot from a standing start.

There are three drive modes – Eco, Normal and Sport. As ever, Normal is just fine because Eco dulls the driving experience, and though Sport livens things up a little, it does sap the battery range.

DS 3 E-Tense review

We’d estimate real-world driving range is probably closer to 200 than 250, which certainly makes it a practical proposition for most drivers.

The DS 3 can take up to 100 kW DC charging, which enables a 0-80% replenishing of its battery in 30 minutes. Plug it at home via a 11 kW AC wallbox and a 0-100% charge will take five hours, 45 minutes.

Perhaps the biggest challenge for the DS 3 E-Tense is its price. Starting at £37,200 and rising to £41,700, it’s a relatively expensive small EV.

Verdict: If you’re looking for a 100% electric compact SUV and you appreciate quality and style, then consider the DS 3 E-Tense. It’s not without a few frustrations and compromises, but it’s easy and fun to drive – and crucially – stands out from the crowd.

DS Automobiles

Volkswagen ID.4 review

Volkswagen ID.4 review

Is VW’s new electric car right for your family? We find out…

Futuristically designed inside and out, the ID.4 is Volkswagen’s first 100% electric SUV.

Winner of the prestigious World Car of the Year 2021 award, this distinctive family-sized EV features a small driver’s digital instrument cluster and a larger infotainment screen mounted on the centre console (just like its smaller sibling, the ID.3 hatchback).

Volkswagen ID.4 review

Priced from £34,995 and available with two sizes of battery (52kW and 77kW), it has a range of between 211-317 miles and achieved a maximum five-star Euro NCAP score, making it one of the safest new cars on the road. 

Fitted with Isofix points in the front passenger seat, as well as the rear, standard safety and driver assistance systems include AEB (Autonomous Emergency Braking), lane assist, adaptive cruise control and driver fatigue detection.

Volkswagen ID.4 review

It also features a centre-mounted airbag which protects the driver and front passenger from hard mutual contact in the event of a side crash.

In terms of size, the ID.4 is about the same size as a Tiguan, but bigger inside, so it’s substantial with plenty of room for the family.

Volkswagen ID.4 review

There’s also lots of space for luggage – 543 litres with the rear seats in place, expanding to 1,575 litres with all the back seats flipped.

We tested the ID.4 with the biggest battery and the longest range (starting at around £46,000). It’s mid-range and is billed as the ‘Family’ version. There’s also the entry-level Life, followed by Style, (Family), Max, GTX and GTX Max.

Despite feeling big on the road and weighing more than two tonnes, it’s swift with a 0-62mph sprint time of 8.5 seconds. And, as ever with an electric vehicle (EV), there’s instant oomph and zero emissions.

Volkswagen ID.4 review

It’s also easy to drive with a commanding view of the road. The interior design is cool, comfortable, well put together and minimalist, though the infotainment screen won’t appeal to everyone because it’s all about tapping and swiping – and it’s not the most responsive system out there.

It would be an exaggeration to call this version of the ID.4 fun to drive, but all EVs have their moments (especially at traffic lights and overtaking) and it’s a joy to cruise along silently.

Volkswagen ID.4 review

Our test car was not all-wheel drive, but still seemed to have plenty of traction and grip. Composed, unless really pushed in more challenging corners, it’s more agile than you might think for a big car.

However, if you want all-wheel drive and more tuned driving dynamics, then you’ll have to opt for one of the more sporty range-stoppers.

Volkswagen ID.4

As far as practicality goes, if you have a home wallpod, it will fully charge overnight (11 hours). If you can find a 125kW rapid charger, it will take just 38 minutes to reach 80% full charge, while a real-world range of 250 miles is very realistic.

Of course, the ID.4 will also charge on the move via regenerative braking (which returns most of the energy from braking and coasting back into the battery while you’re driving).

Volkswagen ID.4 review

Electric SUV rivals include the Hyundai Kona Electric, Kia e-Niro, Audi Q4 e-tron, Volvo XC40 Recharge, Skoda Enyaq and Ford Mustang Mach-e.

Verdict: If you’re looking for a big SUV that’s kind to the planet, stands out from the crowd and boasts serious badge appeal, then the practical Volkswagen ID.4 could be right up your street. In short, it’s the kind of sensible car you buy with your head, not your heart. Price: from £34,995 – £56,380 (including the Government Plug-in Car Grant)

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