Kia Sportage PHEV review

Kia Sportage PHEV review

Earlier in 2022 Kia launched the superb fifth-generation Sportage – one of the most striking new crossovers on the road.

Rocking a bold, confident new design and hi-tech interior, it was initially available with a choice of petrol, diesel and hybrid (mild, self-charging) engines.

Now a plug-in hybrid version has joined the award-winning range – and the best just got better.

Kia Sportage PHEV review

But first the bad news. Whereas the Sportage line-up starts at £26,775, the PHEV variant debuts at £38,395, rising to £43,795.

The good news is that it has a theoretical fuel economy of 252mpg, and an emissions-free EV driving range of up to 43 miles.

And with official overall CO2 emissions of 25g/km and 8% benefit in kind (BIK), it’s particularly attractive to company car users.

Kia Sportage PHEV review

The Sportage is the South Korean brand’s best-selling car and the new model is already a firm fixture in the UK’s Top 10 most popular new cars.

The PHEV looks much the same as its conventional and lesser hybrid powered Sportage siblings, except for the extra ‘fuel’ flap for plugging it in (the battery can be fully charged in as little as 1hr 45m via a 7.2kW connection) and it has a slightly reduced boot capacity (down from 591 litres to 540 litres) because of the larger battery.

The Sportage Plug-in Hybrid features a 1.6-litre T-GDi petrol engine, paired with a six-speed automatic transmission, working in tandem with a 66.9kW electric motor and a 13.8kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack.

Kia Sportage PHEV review

This powertrain combination delivers a total of 261bhp, a 0-60mph time of just 7.9 seconds, and a top speed of 119mph. What’s more, all plug-in hybrid versions of the Sportage get all-wheel drive.

Elsewhere, the Sportage PHEV is much the same as the rest of the range. In other words, it has serious road presence, echoing some of the futuristic styling cues of its pure electric big brother, the EV6.

Inside, it’s just as radical with a smart two-screen infotainment set-up. As standard, there’s a an 8.0-inch main touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and additional digital driver’s display on the right. From GT-Line spec up there’s a larger 12.3-inch screen in the centre.

Kia Sportage PHEV review

The curved console is clear, bright, responsive and intuitive to use. There’s plenty of space for adults front and back, while the luggage capacity expands to a useful 1,715 litres when the 40:20:40 split rear seats are flipped.

On the road, the Sportage PHEV is easy to drive with light steering and a commanding driving position, delivering good all-round visibility.

Kia Sportage PHEV review

The overall ride is on the firm side, but not uncomfortably so, and there’s a bit of roll in more challenging corners, but overall it’s a relaxed cruiser.

Switching from Eco to Sport mode alters the throttle and steering responses of the car, but stay in the latter for too long and it will dent your fuel economy (which can dip into the late 40s on longer runs when the battery has depleted).

In addition, there are two main drive modes – EV (prioritises battery power) and HEV (blends power from the engine too, which is more efficient on longer journeys), plus AWD terrain modes for Snow, Mud and Sand.

Kia Sportage PHEV review

The PHEV powertrain delivers a surprising amount of poke and the switch from engine to electric and vice versa is seamless. The engine itself is refined, only becoming vocal if pushed hard.

A slick-shifting gearbox completes the picture. It’s a traditional automatic, as opposed to a high-revving CVT which so often blights hybrid driving experiences.

The PHEV is heavier than other Sportages, but it hides the extra battery weight well, while grip and traction are impressive, partly down to the AWD system.

Kia Sportage PHEV review

The Sportage is packed with the latest safety and driver assistance kit including autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and, as with all Kia cars, it comes with a generous seven-year warranty.

Rivals in the family PHEV SUV sector include the Hyundai Tucson, Peugeot 3008, Ford Kuga and Vauxhall Grandland.

Rivals in the family PHEV SUV sector include the Hyundai Tucson, Peugeot 3008, Ford Kuga and Vauxhall Grandland.

Verdict: The plug-in hybrid version of the Kia Sportage is the highlight of an already fantastic family SUV line-up. Its blend of economy, striking looks, hi-tech interior, practicality, top safety features and peace of mind make it stand out from the crowd.

Kia UK

Kia Sportage PHEV review

Jeep Compass 4xe review

Jeep Compass 4xe review

We drive the impressive new plug-in hybrid version of Jeep’s mid-sized SUV…

When I first drove the Jeep Compass soon after its launch in 2018, I really wanted to like it. It was practical and looked good, but for me it was let down by an unsophisticated diesel engine, disappointing fuel economy and an underwhelming interior.

Fast forward to 2022 and Jeep has added a new plug-in hybrid version to the revamped Compass range, which will battle it out with other PHEV SUVs including the Ford Kuga, Kia Sportage, Toyota RAV4, Vauxhall Grandland and Volkswagen Tiguan.

Using much the same plug-in hybrid system as the smaller Renegade 4xe (which is no bad thing), the new Compass 4xe has also been facelifted inside and out, and gets a technology update.

Jeep Compass 4xe review

Like all PHEVs, the Compass 4xe offers the best of both worlds, delivering some of the experience of an EV without any of the associated range anxiety.

My test car was fitted with the most powerful version of the hybrid system used in the Renegade, producing a combined total of 237bhp from the 1.3-litre turbo petrol unit. There are two electric motors and there’s assistance from a 11.4kWh battery.

On the road, the Compass works out when it’s best to operate on electric, petrol, or a combination of both, to give the ideal performance in any given situation.

Jeep Compass 4xe review

The EV mode lasts for up to 30 miles at speeds of up to 80mph, which means visits to the garage will become rare occasions for low mileage users. As with all PHEVs, it works most efficiently if you can charge the battery overnight or at work (less than two hours using a 7.4kW chargeppoint).

There are potentially huge fuel savings to be made, but even on long journeys where most of the time is spent on motorways using the petrol engine with hybrid assistance, it can return around 40mpg.

First impressions are good. The mild makeover, which includes new full LED headlights and a revamped seven-slot grille, gives the Compass a fresh new look and more road presence.

Jeep Compass 4xe review

The biggest changes are reserved for the cabin which seems to have been given a complete overhaul, with better build quality, more of an upmarket feel and bang up to date technology.

Standard features include a 10.25-inch driver’s digital instrument cluster and the latest 10.1-inch Uconnect 5 centre console infotainment system which features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.

There’s also a “Hey Jeep” voice assistant for hands-free adjustment of the air conditioning and media, or setting the TomTom sat nav. Slick and crisp, the new infotainment set-up is a huge improvement.

Jeep Compass 4xe review

The new Compass is a surprisingly refined cruiser, and you’d never know the engine is so dinky, given the overall amount torque on tap.

Obviously the engine becomes more vocal if you floor it and it’s no hot hatch on kickdown, but for the record, the petrol hybrid combo can deliver a 0-60mph time of just 7.3 seconds and a top speed of 124mph.

More importantly for many, CO2 emissions are as low as 45g/km, meaning business users can access significant tax benefits.

Jeep Compass 4xe review

There’s the occasional hesitancy when switching between electric and hybrid – and vice versa – but the system works well generally. And compared to some PHEVs fitted with CVT gearboxes, the traditional six-speed automatic transmission is a breath of fresh air.

Basic drive modes available include Hybrid, Electric and E-save, which stores up the battery energy for use at a later stage while maintaining range or can convert the engine into a generator to charge up battery.

There are also Auto, Sport, Snow, Sand, and Mud modes. And as you’d expect from a serious off-roader, there’s also 4WD low ratio, 4WD lock and hill descent.

Jeep Compass 4xe review

I tried a little green-laning and it coped admirably on road tyres. Compared to the opposition, it’s one of the most capable 4×4 off-roaders with plenty of traction and healthy ground clearance.

Even if you only use a tiny percentage of that ability, it’s good to know that it can in theory cope with rough terrain or extreme weather conditions, such a flooding.

A commanding driving position, compact exterior proportions, supportive leather seats and driving assistance tech (including a reversing camera as standard and an optional 360-degree camera), mean that progress in the Compass 4xe is comfortable and classy.

Jeep Compass 4xe review

The Compass handles well, feels composed and is easy to manoeuvre in town. For a relatively heavy car, it’s even quite entertaining to drive, especially in Sport mode, with body lean under control and decent grip.

Overall cabin space is not class leading, but there’s room for two adult-sized passengers in the rear, while luggage capacity is slightly down on a regular Compass, offering a modest 420 litres (1,239 litres with the rear seats flipped down).

The update means the Compass 4xe is now packed with the latest safety kit too, ranging from autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and Traffic Sign Recognition to Drowsy Driver Alert and LaneSense Departure Warning.

Jeep Compass 4xe review

It’s also the first Jeep vehicle in Europe to offer level 2 autonomous driving. Highway Assist combines adaptive cruise control and lane centring, enabling the car to automatically adjust its speed and trajectory.

Priced from £39,895, there are two trim levels – the ‘S’ or the more off-road orientated ‘Trailhawk’.

Verdict: With the introduction of plug-in hybrid technology, the Jeep Compass is now the car it always should have been. Comfortable, refined, well built, economical, easy to drive and packed with the latest tech, the 4xe is one of the best and most capable 4×4 PHEVs on the market.

Jeep UK

Jeep Compass 4xe review

Vauxhall Grandland review

Vauxhall Grandland review

Launched in 2018, the Vauxhall Grandland X was never the most scintillating SUV on the market, but it sold well. More than 70,000 found homes in the UK, along with some 300,000 in Europe.

So-called C-SUVs are the biggest single sector in the UK, accounting for one-in-six of all new vehicles sold. Popular rivals include the Kia Sportage, Ford Kuga, Nissan Qashqai and Peugeot 3008.

For 2022, Vauxhall has treated the Grandland X to a facelift. For starters, the “heavily revised” model loses it ‘X’ and is now just a “Grandland”.

More importantly, Vauxhall has managed to transform a plain crossover into something with genuine kerb appeal thanks to design cues taken from its smaller sibling, the Mokka.

Vauxhall Grandland review

Most notably, the introduction of the brand’s bold new face – the distinctive ‘Vizor’ front end, already seen in the Mokka and also an essential styling element of the upcoming all-new Astra.

Featuring a single smooth panel that runs between the smart new adaptive IntelliLux LED Pixel Light headlights, it houses the new Griffin logo, sensors and radar for the driver assistance technologies and gives the car a cleaner, more modern image.

The rear LED lights feature a ‘double wing’ design inside a smoke-coloured rear lamp cluster. Other changes include black door mirror caps and a roof spoiler, while some models get a black roof and high gloss roof rails.

The interior has also been extensively reworked too, with a dashboard built around Vauxhall’s twin-screen Pure Panel, which includes a driver’s digital instrument display and an infotainment screen. It’s not flash, but it’s attractive, while the cabin is generally well put together and boasts soft touch surfaces high up.

Vauxhall Grandland review

Depending on which of the three trims you choose (Design, GS Line and Ultimate), the digital instrument cluster is available with either 7.0-inch or 12-inch displays, while the central touchscreen comes in 7.0-inch or 10-inch sizes.

Elsewhere, there are comfortable new seats up front, and the extensive suite of safety and driver assistance features available include new ‘Night Vision’ technology, which uses infra-red cameras to highlight pedestrians and animals in the digital instrument display, and is available in a Vauxhall for the first time.

There’s also Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB), cruise control, speed sign recognition, active lane keeping, driver drowsiness alert and Advanced Park Assist with a 360-degree panoramic camera.

Priced from £25,810 to £37,375, the new Grandland is available with conventional petrol and diesel engines, plus a plug-in hybrid (Hybrid-e) with an electric-only range of up to 39 miles, making it capable of tackling a typical day’s driving for most UK motorists.

Vauxhall Grandland review

The 1.2-litre petrol develops 128bhp with CO2 emissions as low as 139g/km. Emissions for the 1.5-litre diesel (also 128bhp) are 133g/km, while the PHEV (a 177bhp 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine and 109bhp electric motor combining to produce 223bhp) emits just 31 g/km of CO2.

In theory the Hybrid-e is capable of up to 192mpg (depending on whether it’s kept fully charged and the length of journey), while the diesel can manage up to 54.3mpg and the petrol 45.6mpg.

The PHEV is the fastest of the trio (0-60mph in 8.9 seconds), with the petrol at 10.3s and diesel, 12.3s.

We tested the petrol and plug-in hybrid versions of the new Grandland, the former powered by the efficient three-cylinder 1.2-litre unit also used widely across the Peugeot and Citroen ranges.

Interestingly, because Vauxhall is part of the same group as the French brands (Stellantis) , the Grandland shares the same underpinnings as the Peugeot 3008 and Citroen C5 Aircross SUVs.

Anyway, the petrol engine is punchy and smooth, delivering more power than its small capacity might suggest, and the official fuel economy is realistic in everyday driving.

From initial orders, it looks like the PHEV variant will account for around 25% of Grandland sales.

The overall driving experience for both versions is comfortable and surprisingly refined. It feels substantial and composed on the road, and manages to stay admirably flat in faster, more challenging corners. If anything, the petrol version is slightly more nimble.

Vauxhall Grandland review

There’s a high driving position and visibility is good, while the light steering means its suited to city driving too. The PHEV is even better because it can run silently with zero emissions.

Obviously there’s more power on tap in the Hybrid-e, though it does feel slightly heavier thanks to the addition of its 13.2kWh lithium-ion battery and electric motor.

The eight-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly and there are three drive modes on offer: Hybrid, Sport and Electric.

Hybrid is the default mode and is the best of both worlds, optimising fuel efficiency and driving performance, and the switch between petrol and electric power is almost seamless. Sport delivers maximum power from the petrol and electric motors, while Electric switches to near-silent EV mode.

Vauxhall Grandland review

Naturally, there’s also brake regeneration – a system that recharges the battery by harvesting power otherwise wasted during deceleration, though the effect is subtle.

Like all PHEVs, it operates most efficiently if charged at home overnight. For the record, 0-100% charge times range from 5h 45m from a domestic 3-pin to 1hr 45m from a 7.4 kW home/public chargepoint.

The revised infotainment system is a definite improvement over the outgoing Grandland X. It’s functional and logically laid out, though the centre touchscreen could be bigger and the display is not the clearest or brighter on the market. On the plus side, it does feature short-cut buttons below the screen.

There’s plenty of space for adults front and back, while the luggage capacity ranges between 514 and 1,642 litres on the petrol and diesel versions, and 390 litres/1,528 litres for the plug-in.

Vauxhall Grandland review

So, the Grandland is much improved, and while it isn’t best-in-class, it offers great value for money, with prices starting lower than the outgoing Grandland X range.

The entry-level petrol and diesel powered cars deliver decent fuel economy, but it’s the plug-in hybrid that could offer the most savings, not just for low mileage private owners, but on the fleet side too.

The Grandland Hybrid-e falls into the 11% Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) band during the 2021-22 financial year (rising to 12% in 2022-23), representing a significant saving for business users.

Verdict: Vauxhall has worked wonders with the Grandland, transforming it from a worthy crossover into a distinctive, comfortable and practical no-nonsense family SUV that delivers great value for money.

Vauxhall Motors