Tested: 2021 Kia Sorento Is Compelling in Hybrid Form

The front-wheel-drive hybrid version of Kia's redesigned Sorento mid-size three-row crossover packs a solid 227 horsepower and a 37-mpg EPA combined estimate.

The new 2021 Kia Sorento hybrid doesn't make a big deal of itself, despite being the first electrically assisted version of Kia's mid-size crossover. It's got a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, and it drives like you'd expect—except that the little four feels like it has about 25 percent more displacement than it actually does. In fact, the Sorento hybrid's combined output—227 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque—nearly matches that of the 2020 Volkswagen GTI. Like a GTI, the front-wheel-drive Sorento torments its front tires with torque. Unlike the compact GTI, though, it has three rows of seats and an EPA combined estimate of 37 mpg. Thus concludes our references to the Volkswagen GTI, but we hope the comparisons helped you subliminally internalize the idea that the Sorento hybrid is actually kind of fun.

2021 kia sorento ex hybrid
HIGHS: More power than the nonhybrid base version, 11-mpg fuel-economy gain, modest price premium.

To get the Sorento hybrid's 227 horses out of a 1.6-liter turbo four, you'd generally have to boost the bejesus out of it. Kia didn't do that. But it did pair the engine with a sizable electric motor and a 1.5-kWh lithium battery that enables some neat tricks. Such as producing an abundance of torque off the line and sailing along at highway speeds with the engine off. And, yes, achieving solid fuel-economy ratings of 39 mpg in the city and 35 on the highway. Our 75-mph highway fuel economy test returned 42 mpg, 13 percent better than the EPA’s estimate, and unleashes the potential for a whopping 740 miles of range from its 17.7-gallon fuel tank.

2021 kia sorento ex hybrid

The 1.6 does sometimes lug at low rpm, particularly when climbing grades, as the transmission holds a tall gear and leans on the electric motor for help. But that's a common hybrid trait. As dealership sales reps like to say: They all do that. And as we often say: At least it's not a CVT (continuously variable automatic transmission). Should you desire a lower gear from the Sorento hybrid's conventional automatic, there are paddle shifters on the back of the steering wheel. We doubt too many Sorento hybrid drivers will be grabbing downshifts on their way into a max-attack run at their favorite off-ramp, but in that unlikely scenario, the Sorento hybrid can generate a respectable 0.81 g of lateral acceleration.

2021 kia sorento ex hybrid

LOWS: Front-wheel drive only, some torque steer, reduced towing capacity.

The Sorento hybrid offers no dedicated electric-only mode, but nonetheless it relies on electric power surprisingly often and at high speeds. Light on the throttle, downhill, you'll see the green EV indicator light come on at 80 mph. While its relatively tiny battery means you won't ever go far on electricity alone, this Sorento is good at seamlessly juggling its propulsion options without calling attention to the machinations happening beyond the firewall.

2021 kia sorento ex hybrid
Priced at $34,765 to start for the base S trim, the hybrid costs $1700 more than a nonhybrid Sorento S, which employs a 191-hp naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder and an eight-speed automatic. That model is only rated at 26 mpg combined, and the EPA figures that over five years, the hybrid will save you $2500 in fuel compared to the average new vehicle. Your mileage may vary, of course, but you'll notice that those estimated savings neatly erase the hybrid's price premium. It looks as if a half-decade is your financial break-even point, if that's a motivating factor. But the hybrid also is the significantly more powerful option, and that's a worthy upgrade on its own. It won't outpace a Sorento with the optional 281-hp 2.5-liter turbo four that we've already tested, but giving up 0.9 second to 60 mph seems like a pretty fair trade to earn an additional 11 mpg on the EPA combined cycle. The hybrid S also costs $1400 less than the least expensive 2.5-liter turbo model, the front-wheel-drive EX.

For 2022. the Sorento hybrid will also be offered with all-wheel drive starting at $36,965. Or consider the $46,165 Sorento plug-in hybrid's EPA-rated 32-mile range of electric driving with a combined 261 horses. The hybrid shouldn't be your pick if you expect to tow much with it, as its 2000-pound tow rating lags behind the nonhybrid models' 3500-pound max. But if hauling a load isn't an issue, you may as well spring for the hybrid over the standard Sorento. Think of it as a five-year investment in free horsepower.


New Vauxhall Astra (2022): Specs, prices and release date (+VIDEO)


  • Powered by excellent Peugeot engines
  • Interior quality looks very impressive
  • Plug-in versions available from launch


  • Electric version won't be here until 2023
  • Just one diesel power unit available
  • Not the roomiest car in its class

Is the new Vauxhall Astra any good?

It's too early to say for sure, but as it's closely related to the new Peugeot 308 and we rate that, the signs are looking good. For many a year the Vauxhall Astra was perfectly described as worthy, but dull. However, with the brand now part of the massive Stellantis group of carmakers, that’s all set to change with the latest version of the popular hatchback.

The brand’s ‘vizor’ arrangement – a black panel spanning the front of the car – is present in order to bring it into line with other recent Vauxhalls like the latest Mokka, as is the pronounced ridge running down the bonnet. The sides are simpler and the rear is sharper, too, with barely a curve in sight.

There's a wide range of petrols and hybrids powering the range, and an electric version to follow in 2023 – but now, it's shaping up to be an exciting challenger to the Ford Focus, Kia Ceed, Hyundai i30, SEAT Leon and Volkswagen Golf.

Vauxhall Astra review (2021) front view

What's it like inside?

Inside, a clean cockpit layout steals your attention. There’s a new steering wheel design – one that’ll presumably make its way onto other new Vauxhalls in the coming years – and a progression of the ‘Pure Panel’ screen layout that first started with the latest Mokka, with two 10.0-inch screens merged together in one solitary design element.

AGR-certified (‘Aktion Gesunder Rücken’ or ‘Campaign for Healthier Backs’) seats – a favourite of Opel/Vauxhall in recent years – are 12mm lower and offer ‘comfort’ and ‘sport’ contouring via electric adjustment here. Vauxhall says Nappa leather and alcantara upholstery are on the options list.

Even on the pre-production car we spent a couple of hours with, quality impressed. There’s plenty of soft touch plastics on the dashboard and front doors, the leather-wrapped steering wheel feels great in your hands and its buttons work with precision. With the Volkswagen Golf taking a real tumble in interior quality recently, the Astra suddenly finds itself near the pointy end of the class.

You’ll also find just enough buttons elsewhere to make navigating the touchscreen and operating the stereo and heater far easier than a Golf or Skoda Octavia, for instance, and there are loads of useful cubbies, pockets and trays to empty your pockets into. In other words it’s as inviting as it is practical.

The boot space is rated at 442 litres with the rear seats up, making it roomier for your luggage than a Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf and Kia Ceed, but smaller than a Honda Civic. If you need more room, an estate badged Astra Sport Tourer will be launched late in 2022.

Vauxhall Astra review (2021) interior view

What tech do you get?

The new Vauxhall Astra will debut a new infotainment system to take full advantage of the new Pure Panel screen layout, ditching the laggy, low-res and clunky OS used by almost every former-PSA-now-Stellantis model from Citroen, Peugeot, DS etc. The car we sampled was too early to have a fully working example of this, so we’ll reserve judgment until later.

Elsewhere, Vauxhall’s IntelliLux matrix LED lights are an option, and semi-autonomous driving technologies can be specified, too – something Vauxhall calls IntelliDrive. This combines adaptive cruise control with active lane centring and semi-autonomous lane changing, too. It’s not Tesla levels of driver assistance, but it should help make long journeys a little less tiring.

What engines are available?

It’s a predictable bunch, given the new Astra’s shared DNA with the new Peugeot 308. There’ll be 110 and 130hp petrol options, with a six-speed manual standard and an eight-speed auto optional on the punchier engine. A single 1.5-litre diesel with 130hp will be available with a choice of manual or auto.

If you want to know about CO2 emissions for the 2022 Vauxhall Astra, the 110hp petrol emits from as little as 123g/km of CO2, with the 130hp from 122g/km with a manual or 125g/km for the auto. The diesel predictably dips lower at 113g/km with a manual and 116g/km with an auto.

A first for the Astra, however, is the addition of a not one but two plug-in hybrid variants. First up is a 180hp version which cracks 0-62mph in a respectable 7.9sec with a punchier 225hp version dropping this to 7.7sec making it the fastest Astra available. Both are expected to cover around 35 miles on official tests, giving CO2 emissions from just 24g/km and economy of up to 256.8mpg. That’s not quite Mercedes A250e good, but still bob on for the class.

There’s even an all-electric Astra-e due in early 2023, although details on this are scarce. Hopefully it’ll improve on the 50kWh battery and 136hp motor currently found in many Stellantis electric cars such as the Peugeot e-208 and e-2008.
Vauxhall says the new Astra is 4mm longer but with a 13mm increase in its wheelbase and is 14% more torsionally rigid than before for better handling.

What models and trims are available?

With the least expensive trim level, Design, buyers get 16-inch alloy wheels, LED lights front and rear, the Pure Panel with smartphone mirroring, rear parking sensors, voice recognition and a range of safety and driver assistance features such as Driver Drowsiness Alert, automated emergency braking with a pedestrian detection function and cruise control with intelligent speed adaption.

GS Line models, providing a sportier, more aggressive look, get a contrasting black roof and black 17-inch alloy wheels, as well as a blacked-out Vizor panel and Vauxhall badge. On top of Design models, some of the key features of the GS Line include Forward Collision Alert, a 360-degree parking camera, a heated steering wheel and heated front seats.

Ultimate spec comes at the top of the Astra tree and includes a whole suite of tech and driver assistance features. Some of the elements differentiating Ultimate versions include 18-inch wheels, adaptive headlights, a head-up display and wireless phone charging. There's an expanded array of driver assistance and semi-autonomous functions such as lane change assistance, a blind spot alert, Lane Positioning Assist, a rear cross traffic alert system and semi-automated lane-changing capability.

Vauxhall Astra review (2021) rear view

What else should I know?

The new Vauxhall Astra has undergone a complete transformation, combining an appealing exterior with a well-built and easy to use interior. Combined with an efficient range of engines, it could be a real contender in the class.

We'll get to drive this generation of Astra later this year, but until then, enjoy the video and images, above. Full price and spec details can be found here, with orders opening in autumn 2021. The first ones will be delivered in the first few months of 2022.


New Volkswagen Multivan eHybrid 2022 review

We find out if the new Volkswagen Multivan eHybrid can breathe life into the sparse plug-in hybrid MPV segment


There’s no doubt that the new Volkswagen Multivan is better than the old Caravelle in a number of key areas. There’s more space inside, the styling is up to date and the addition of a plug-in hybrid adds an extra layer of appeal for company car buyers and businesses. High pricing could be its downfall, however, and the launch range isn’t very strong. There’s also the eagerly-anticipated, similarly sized VW ID.Buzz, which might steal some thunder when it’s released next year. 

The new Volkswagen Multivan is under plenty of pressure to succeed, not just because it replaces the popular T6.1 Caravelle MPV (which will be sold alongside the newcomer for a while), but because it also brings in a new plug-in hybrid capability to VW’s van-based people carrier. 

The twist is that the new T7 Multivan isn’t really based on a van. Instead, it runs on the MQB platform which underpins a wide variety of VW Group products like the Cupra Formentor and Volkswagen Golf. In theory this should make the Multivan significantly more engaging to drive, improving upon the van-like driving characteristics of the old Caravelle. From launch, all powertrains have a petrol engine - a 134bhp 1.5-litre TSI kicks off the range, then a 201bhp 2.0-litre TSI and finally a plug-in hybrid with a 1.4-litre TSI paired with a 10kWh electric motor for a total of 215bhp. 

But the T7 Multivan is aimed at those transporting up to seven people, so it’ll need to impress passengers just as much as the driver. That’s where the new car’s party-piece rear seating comes into play. A rail system means the middle and back rows of seats can slide forwards and back or be turned 180 degrees independently of each other. To make the seat removal process easier, the seats are 25% lighter than the old Caravelle’s and on higher spec models the rail system is electrified, allowing for all seven seats to be heated. You can also spec the Multivan with just six seats and of course you can remove the rear and middle seats if you’d like to use the Multivan as a van. 

There’s more good news for passengers as the central table can slide the length of the cabin, giving front, middle or rear passengers cup holders and a handy height adjustable fold-out table. Four USB ports are also available for rear passengers, with two up front. 

On all models, the infotainment system is the same as you’d find on the new VW Golf and while there have been plenty of critics of VW’s menu layout, the 10-inch screen is crisp and the responsiveness of the touchscreen is among the best out there. With this central screen interface coupled with Volkswagen’s 10.25-inch ‘Digital Cockpit’ and head-up display, the Multivan does feel like a quality item from the driver’s seat. It’s also easy to switch between hybrid and EV-only modes with a dedicated button below the central screen. 

Crucially the Multivan offers more cabin space than the outgoing Caravelle, with 469-litres available in the boot with a seven-seat layout and 1,844-litres with the rear seats removed. Upgrade to the long-wheel base model and the total maximum with rows two and three removed rises to 4,005-litres from the 3,672-litres in the short-wheel base model. 

Plenty of storage bins throughout the cabin is always useful in a car designed to take seven, although don’t be surprised to see the creviced rail system quickly fill up with food and muck if there are children, or messy adults, regularly on board. Touch points like the steering wheel and the dash have a premium feel to them but you also don’t have to search for long in the rear cabin area to find some cheap scratchy plastics.

 You’d be forgiven in thinking the Multivan has taken a huge leap forward from the old Caravelle in terms of driving dynamics thanks to the MQB platform, in reality the Multivan still feels fundamentally like a van. There’s decent body control in the bends, despite the retention of the Caravelle’s old suspension set-up, but the steering is incredibly light and devoid of feedback. 

The range-topping eHybrid plug-in model comes with a 1.4-litre petrol TSI engine mated to a 10kWh battery. It’s the same unit found in the Golf and Passat GTE, so that means there’s a fairly hefty 215bhp offered through a bespoke six-speed automatic gearbox to the front wheels. 0-62mph takes 11.6 seconds and the Multivan eHybrid never feels as quick as the power figure suggests. The performance is adequate with this powertrain but never feels overly punchy. The power delivery is smooth but when the four-cylinder petrol engine decides to kick in you do get an audible clatter. 

 If you want to squeeze out the Multivan’s maximum fuel efficiency, then you’ll have to accept a 204-minute charging time from 0-100% using a 3.6kW charger. The 30-mile electric-only range is hardly groundbreaking for a modern plug-in hybrid either but in EV-only mode the Multivan is quiet, comfortable and the brake regeneration system is nicely weighted. 

Out of the three powertrains available from launch (a 148bhp diesel variant is coming in Spring 2022), the eHybrid is the best suited to the Multivan’s chassis. The slightly heavier plug-in hybrid set-up actually gives the Multivan a more composed feel on rougher roads. In the 134bhp 1.5 TSI, the reduction in power means the seven-speed DSG gearbox found in the both non-hybrid models is more prone to unwanted kickdowns and ultimately holds on to revs just a bit too long.

VW is still yet to release a price for the new Multivan but expect the range to start from £45,000 for the non-hybrid versions, topping out around £60,000. The eHybrid plug-in model will be the most expensive, costing from around £55,000 when it goes on sale in January 2022. Rivals like the Citroen Spacetourer and Mercedes V-Class offer similar practicality, but without the option for a plug-in hybrid. So if you want an electrified people carrier of this size and you don’t choose the Multivan eHybrid, you’ll have to go the fully-electric route. Volkswagen will also have a new entrant into that category next year with the funky electric ID.Buzz that could further dent the new plug-in hybrid Multivan’s prospects.

Price: £55,000 (est)

1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol + 10kwh e-motor plug-in hybrid




Six-speed DSG automatic transmission

0-62mph: 11.6 seconds
Top speed: 118mph
Economy/CO2: N/A
EV Range: 31 miles
On sale: January 2022


Peugeot 308 hatchback review

"The Peugeot 308 is a comfortable, stylish family hatchback with a great interior but it’s not the most practical”

The Peugeot 308 is a family hatchback that’s had a complete makeover; its eye-catching looks are a big selling point but there are plenty of other reasons to consider buying one. The 308 is an alternative to the Ford Focus, SEAT Leon and Volkswagen Golf, and it shares parts with other similar models, including the Citroen C4 and the latest Vauxhall Astra.

There are petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid engine options but there’s no choice of gearbox; the only option is an automatic, which means there’s no low-cost entry-level model to compete with basic versions of the Focus or Golf. It’s all part of a plan to make Peugeot into a more upmarket brand within Stellantis' wide range of brands, which is also the reason for the redesigned badge on the nose of the car.

Best hatchbacks

The petrol version uses a 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine with 128bhp, while the diesel is a 1.5-litre four-cylinder unit with the same amount of power. The two plug-in hybrid options use the same 1.6-litre petrol engine, and have a total of 178bhp in standard guise, or 222bhp with an upgraded electric motor. These models offer low emissions and are cheap for company-car drivers to tax, plus they can travel up to 37 miles on electric power alone.

Most people will charge up the battery at home overnight at a standard rate of 3.8kW, but unlike some plug-in hybrids, the 308 is available with faster charging as an option. Equipped with a 7.4kW charger (for around £300), you can use a home wallbox or public charger to fill the battery in about two hours.

The new 308 is good to drive, striking a nice balance between handling and comfort. The Ford Focus is often considered to be the benchmark in the class for handling and the Skoda Octavia is the same for comfort. The 308 sits somewhere in between the two.

Yet one of the best aspects of the 308 is the interior. It feels well made and the materials are good quality, much like you’d find in a more expensive car like an Audi A3. There are some areas that look a little drab but its design is mostly excellent.

There’s also a 10-inch display with a second touch-sensitive panel below it. This looks very modern and is easier to use than the screens in other Peugeots (such as the 3008 SUV). It’s very responsive too, in a big improvement over the previous model.

The new 308 is available in Active Premium, Allure, Allure Premium, GT and GT Premium trim levels. All are well equipped; you get a 10-inch digital dial display, smartphone connectivity, LED headlights, climate control, 16-inch alloys and plenty of safety kit even on entry-level versions. As you move up the range, luxuries such as wireless phone charging, sat-nav, keyless entry, larger alloys and a 360-degree parking camera are added.

The 308 isn’t the most spacious family car around but it’s a great all-rounder that brings together comfort, efficiency, smart looks inside and out, enjoyable handling and plenty of hi-tech equipment. It’s not the best value for money but if you want an automatic or hybrid car, it’s well worth considering. There’s also a 308 SW estate version with more boot space, should you need it.

Peugeot 3008 SUV - MPG, running costs & CO2

Like many modern SUVs, the Peugeot 3008 is almost as cheap to run as a family hatchback

The Peugeot 3008 takes full advantage of the latest manufacturing techniques, using strong yet light steel, aluminium and plastics. This means it can be fitted with relatively small engines that offer excellent economy, catering to the thousands of buyers who covet an SUV but don’t want high running costs. It's a shame, though, that more electrified versions weren't introduced for the facelift, to plug the gap between the petrol and diesel 3008 and the plug-in hybrid.

The smaller 128bhp 1.5-litre diesel officially returns up to 60.8mpg and emits 122-157g/km of CO2. This is also available with an eight-speed automatic gearbox without affecting running costs too severely.

Going for a 2.0-litre diesel used to get you more power, but this has now been discontinued. The top-of-the-range 175bhp engine officially returned up to 47.3mpg and emits 162-178g/km of CO2.

Despite traditional SUV trends, petrol power will be an economically viable option for many buyers, especially if most of your driving is done over short distances or in town, purely because you’ll pay less for an equivalent engine, and little more for its fuel. The entry-level 128bhp 1.2-litre returns up to 48mpg and emits 133-165g/km. The 1.6-litre petrol was discontinued in mid-2021 but officially managed around 43mpg with emissions of 148-177g/km of CO2.

Choosing Peugeot’s six-speed automatic gearbox costs around £1,300 and sees economy drop by just a little bit. CO2 emissions rise fractionally if you go for the automatic.

Officially, the most economical model is the range-topping 3008 Hybrid4, which is a direct rival to the Ford Kuga plug-in hybrid, and is said to return up to 235.4mpg. It’s worth pointing out that you’ll struggle to achieve close to this figure unless you religiously charge up the battery and only use the car for short, urban trips. CO2 emissions are remarkably low at 30-41g/km, which will please company-car drivers. The less powerful front-wheel-drive hybrid model is capable of up to 222.3mpg with CO2 emissions of 29-39g/km.

If you have access to a 7kW home charger, the Hybrid4 will fully replenish the battery in around one hour 45 minutes. You’ll need to wait eight hours for the battery to get to full charge if you’re using a standard three-pin socket. A dedicated smartphone app lets you choose when to charge the car (so you can charge overnight on a cheaper tariff, for example) and set the air-conditioning before you get in.

Company car drivers should find the Benefit-In-Kind (BiK) tax rates attractive, especially for the hybrid models. VED (road tax) for private buyers is charged at the standard rate for all petrol and diesel models with the hybrids liable for the discounted rate. Flagship models can cost over £40,000, and these will be subject to a surcharge until the car is six years old.

Insurance groups
The Peugeot 3008 sits in groups 20-38 for insurance. Most models are rated in group 21 and under though, with only the more powerful petrol and Hybrids punching above the group 22 mark.

Peugeot’s three year/60,000-mile warranty used to be about average for the industry, but with Hyundai, Toyota, Kia, Mercedes and BMW also offering better protection, we’d argue it’s time for Peugeot to up its game here.

Peugeot’s fixed-price servicing packages make budgeting for maintenance easy, and policies start from around £14 each month if you take out a three-year deal.

Peugeot 3008 SUV - Engines, drive & performance

The Peugeot 3008 is competent, comfortable and enjoyable to drive

What do you want your SUV to do? If the answer to that question is ‘be easy to drive while providing a high ride height for good visibility and access along with plenty of space for my family’, buy the Peugeot 3008.

If the first thing that sprang into your mind was ‘be great to drive’, you might think you’d be better off looking at the more expensive BMW X3 SUV, or a conventional hatchback like the SEAT Leon.

We've found the 3008 to be impressively composed on an open road, but it doesn't goad you to drive it harder. There’s little body lean to speak of, yet this doesn’t come at the expense of comfort, as the suspension makes a decent fist of softening pitted tarmac and soaking up potholes. The 3008 is also easy to drive around town, while it’s impressively quiet and civilised on the motorway.

The SEAT Ateca may have slightly sharper steering and stiffer suspension, but the trade off is it’s less comfortable than the 3008, which is well rounded in every aspect of its driving characteristics. It has the Nissan Qashqai and Renault Kadjar soundly beaten in the enjoyment stakes, coming off well in comparison to the sharp-handling Volkswagen Tiguan, while the Ford Kuga and Mazda CX-5 steer slightly more sweetly.

There’s no four-wheel-drive option for the non-hybrid 3008, but Peugeot’s ‘Grip Control’ setup (which is essentially a sophisticated traction-control system) costs between £250 and £500, as it requires 18-inch alloy wheels, which aren’t standard on all trims. It should help you out when the going gets tough, particularly if it’s paired with the optional winter tyres.

With an electric motor on each axle, the 296bhp Hybrid4 model has four-wheel drive and it’ll tackle reasonably challenging off-road terrain without needing to start the petrol engine. Both hybrids are much heavier than the petrol models and, while they offer great straight-line acceleration, the extra weight makes them feel much more cumbersome through corners.

Peugeot 3008 petrol engines
The 128bhp 1.2-litre petrol engine in the 3008 uses turbocharging to help keep performance up and running costs down, and they’re familiar Peugeot fare. Our drive of the more powerful of these revealed it to provide the 3008 with pretty swift performance, taking eight seconds to go from 0-62mph. The standard automatic gearbox that comes with this engine also impressed us, as it changes gear smoothly, quickly and with minimal fuss.

The petrol engine is also a smooth operator. This will probably need to be worked hard to shift the 3008’s heft, but it’s certainly worth taking for a test drive, as it offers the cheapest route to 3008 ownership. With this engine fitted, 0-62mph takes 9.5 seconds, although that time is likely to increase if you load the 3008 with passengers and luggage. It's impressively linear in its power delivery, and feels powerful enough for cruising on the motorway and overtaking slower traffic. In mid-2021, the range-topping 179bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine was discontinued. This unit was previously the quickest regular engine in the 3008 range, getting from 0-62mph in eight seconds.

Diesel engines
Many buyers after an SUV still want a diesel engine, so Peugeot offers one with either a manual or eight-speed automatic gearbox. Again, they’re staple Peugeot products, and we’ve driven the 128bhp 1.5-litre version, which is likely to be a big seller. It’s a little raucous when being revved, but once in a high-gear cruise it’s admirably quiet. It takes 10.8 seconds to go from 0-62mph, or 11.5 seconds if you choose the eight-speed automatic gearbox.

The 99bhp diesel is no longer available, and it was the only model to come with a five-speed rather than six-speed manual gearbox, with no automatic option. We'd recommend avoiding this engine if you're looking on the used market.

The more powerful 2.0-litre diesel engine was also discontinued with the arrival of the facelifted 3008. The 175bhp engine was automatic-only and had some extra grunt, which was useful for towing. However, it was only offered in the top trim with a hefty price tag. For that reason, it was a rare choice. This engine manages 0-62mph in 9 seconds.

Hybrid engines
Not every family car is offered with a plug-in hybrid version but Peugeot has offered 3008 buyers two to choose from. Both combine a 1.6-litre petrol engine with a 13.2kWh battery and an electric motor, and both use Peugeot’s eight-speed automatic transmission.

The front-wheel-drive ‘Hybrid’ is the less expensive and less powerful of the two, with one electric motor, 222bhp and a 0-62mph time of 8.9 seconds. Above that is the ‘Hybrid4’ with two electric motors (one on each axle), four-wheel drive and a peak power output of 296bhp. Zero to 62mph takes just 6.1 seconds - quicker than the Peugeot 308 GTi hot hatchback - although the Hybrid4 is expensive.

Peugeot 3008 SUV - Interior & comfort

The Peugeot 3008 has one of the best interiors we’ve come across in recent years

The Peugeot 3008 deserves to be heaped with praise for its interior design and represents the best in class. Peugeot is really spoiling us with the quality of interior materials, which range from excellent soft-touch plastics on top of the dashboard to attractively textured cloth running along the inside edge of the doors.

It’s also pleasing to report that while Peugeot fits the 3008 with a small steering wheel that’s designed to be looked over (rather than through) when viewing the dials, the ergonomics of this now look to have been resolved. Taller and shorter drivers who find the steering wheel obscures the gauges, shouldn’t have the same problem in the 3008.

Thanks to its great interior and ride quality, the 3008 is one of the most comfortable cars in its class.

Peugeot’s decision to fit all 3008s with its i-Cockpit is welcome and generous. This 12.3-inch digital display replaces the speedometer, fuel gauge and other dashboard dials and can be configured to show sat-nav guidance, media playlists or information about fuel economy and journey times. Audi has offered a similar setup for some time, but usually as a pricey option. Peugeot’s decision to make it standard may cause other carmakers to follow suit in an effort to keep up. For the facelift the screen has been upgraded for improved contrast, making it easier to read.

Another nice touch is the row of seven silvered toggle switches below the 10-inch infotainment touchscreen, which has grown for the updated car and now has improved definition. These look almost like piano keys and work in conjunction with the touchscreen, bringing up music, ventilation and other modes. You still have to use the screen itself to adjust the temperature and other settings, though, but the screen is capacitive rather than resistive, so it’s much easier to operate than some setups.

The 3008 range kicks off with Active Premium, and choosing this gets you 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, all-round parking sensors, an eight-inch display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Moving up to Allure trim adds larger 18-inch alloy wheels and adds sat nav to a 10-inch infotainment system. Costing around £700 extra, Allure Premium brings keyless entry, aluminium roof rails, ambient lighting and a front passenger seat that can fold flat.

There's also a top GT trim with LED headlights, a black roof lining, adaptive cruise control and upholstery with a mixture of leather and Alcantara. This can be upgraded once more to GT Premium for the ultimate 3008 spec, bringing 19-inch wheels, a powered tailgate, enhanced stereo, 360-degree powertrain and heated seats.

Just because the 3008 is well equipped, doesn’t mean there isn’t a fairly lengthy options list. Metallic paint is a near-essential for many and costs just over £500. We always recommend specifying a full-size spare wheel if possible, for which Peugeot asks around £100.

A wireless smartphone charging pad is available, along with Nappa leather upholstery and a panoramic sunroof.

Peugeot 3008 SUV - Practicality & boot space

The Peugeot 3008 is competitively spacious

The Peugeot 3008 is roomy enough for a family of four. The SEAT Ateca and Nissan Qashqai are ever so slightly bigger inside, but the 3008 has a larger boot than those two cars.

Peugeot 3008 interior space & storage

Front-seat passengers are able to stretch out in the 3008, but it’s not quite as commodious as its exterior dimensions might lead you to believe. Still, there’s an argument that many will like the sense of being cocooned in the 3008, especially given the plushness of its interior – and it’s by no means cramped up front.

Those in the rear do pretty well for space. The back doors open nice and wide, while head and legroom are good in the outer two seats. The front centre console extends a long way into the back, and we reckon middle-seat passengers may feel hard done by, as they’ll have to contort their limbs around a not-insignificant chunk of automotive furniture.

Boot space
At 520 litres, the Peugeot 3008 has the Nissan Qashqai (430 litres) roundly beaten when it comes to luggage space and even manages to edge the spacious SEAT Ateca by 10 litres for total load volume. Drop the rear seats using the levers in the boot and the boot grows to an impressive 1,482 litres. The 60:40 split-folding rear seats lie nice and flat, while the back of the front passenger seat can be folded for lugging longer loads.

Because of the space taken up by the batteries, the 3008 plug-in hybrid models aren’t quite so generous. With the seats up, there are 395 litres to fill, and this increases to 1,357 litres if you fold the rear seats. The Hybrid versions also get a 43-litre fuel tank, while regular petrol and diesel models have a tank that’s 10 litres larger.

If you plan on using the 3008 as a tow car, go for the 1.5-litre diesel, as this can haul up to 1,500kg. The other engines are rated at 1,200kg to 1,400kg, with the Hybrid versions able to tow up to 1,250kg.

Peugeot 3008 SUV - Reliability & safety

Peugeot 3008 is very safe and scored highly in our Driver Power survey

The Peugeot 3008 achieved an impressive ranking in the 2021 Driver Power survey and scored well in Euro NCAP crash testing.

Modern car-building techniques mean a manufacturer or group of manufacturers can get more than one model out of a single platform – the mechanical skeleton that underpins the bodywork. The Peugeot 3008 is no exception to this trend, and it shares many hidden parts with the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso MPV, as well as the Peugeot 308 family hatchback.

After a mightily impressive second place out of 75 cars in our 2020 survey, the 3008 finished in 50th place in our 2021 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey. It still scored strongly in every category with a decent rating for reliability indicating how pleased 3008 owners are with the car as an ownership proposition, which is obviously encouraging if you're considering buying one.

Euro NCAP – the independent body that assesses the crashworthiness of new cars – toughened up its test criteria recently, so it’s good to see the Peugeot 3008 scored the full five stars when it was assessed. It scored 86% for the protection it affords adults and 85% for that offered to children. This is impressive, as many cars do an excellent job at safeguarding larger occupants, but post a lower result (often by as much as 10%) when it comes to smaller passengers.

All 3008s get mandatory kit like electronic stability control, ISOFIX child-seat mounts, a tyre-pressure warning system and a seatbelt reminder. Peugeot also throws in a clutch of airbags and a camera that scans for road signs, relaying pertinent information to a screen on the dashboard.

A lane-departure warning system also comes with all 3008s, as does autonomous emergency braking. This latter bit of kit is one of the biggest developments in car safety to have emerged in recent years, with data indicating it helps prevent up to 38% of rear-end crashes.



BMW 330e review

Plug-in BMW 3 Series is an excellent, tax-efficient all-rounder 

 At a glance

New price £40,440 - £51,145
Lease from new From £475 p/mView lease deals
Used price £24,905 - £45,360
Used monthly cost From £622 per month
Fuel Economy 156.9 - 217.3 mpg
Road tax cost £145 - £480
Insurance group 33 - 36How much is it to insure?
26.5 - 36.8
Miles per pound (mpp)


  • Up to 41 miles of battery-only range
  • Lovely steering and balanced handling
  • Great hybrid efficiency and performance


  • Not as nice to drive as a standard petrol 3 Series
  • Lacks the sweet-sounding engine of a 330i
  • Reduced boot space compared with non plug-ins

Is the BMW 330e any good?

It won't exactly be news to you that the BMW 330e is very good indeed. It already accounts for 25% of all 3 Series sales in the UK thanks to the undeniable tax avantages of running the plug-in version on the company. But the good news is that this is not be the only reason for going for a 330e – it is a genuinely excellent all-rounder.

For one, it's very good to drive. Not perfect, but very good. For another, the electric-only driving range is usable to the point that it will cover most owners' commutes. And finally, there's the XtraBoost feature that cranks the combined petrol/electric power output up to 295hp – if only for short bursts at a time.

So, it's a plug-in that's rational and exciting – read on to find out just what it is that makes the 330e so special.

What's it like inside?

If you're familiar with the standard BMW 3 Series, then you won't find many surprises here, and it's business as usual. The boot space has suffered compared with the standard car, as you’ll find the floor is humped. The hump is actually the fuel tank, which has been moved from its usual position under the seats to make room for the batteries – overall effect is that the standard saloon packs away 480 litres of boot space, while the 330e has just 375 litres.

The infotainment systems and digital dials gain hybrid-related display options, but aside from rearranging a few of the buttons on the centre console, this is the only difference in the passenger compartment.

  • Read all about the standard BMW 3 Series' interior here
BMW 330e interior (2021)
 What's it like to drive?

The 330e combines the same 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo petrol engine you’ll find in the regular 320i with an electric motor that’s neatly integrated into the eight-speed Steptronic automatic transmission. The petrol engine develops 184hp and the electric motor adds another 112hp. Very impressive, even if you can’t just add those two figures together to get the car’s total power output.

So, the 330e’s official power output is 252hp, which rises to 292hp when you activate the XtraBoost function for short periods of time under full acceleration. There's no 'push to pass' boost button, it's just activated by flooring the accelerator in either the S or M transmission settings.

On the road, the results are impressive. Floor it from the lights and the 330e springs forward with real vigour. The 0-62mph time is 5.9 seconds, but it feels faster than that, especially considering how on the motorway it builds speed quicker than a 330d. You only get 10 seconds of XtraBoost, but that's more than enough on UK roads.


One criticism we'd level at the 330e is that it just isn’t that much fun to drive. The four-cylinder engine sounds strained when worked hard and it feels less agile in bends, presumably as a result of accommodating the additional weight of the hybrid batteries.

But it is still a car that devours bends without blinking. It’s just that a little of the fun has gone missing from the process, as exhibited by the slightly light and artificial feel to the steering (again, even in the heaviest Sport setting).

BMW 330e charging port
Range and hybrid driving

The 330e is able to drive up to 41 miles on electric power alone, and there are an increased number of options to make the most of it battery. You can set a guide percentage of power pack life you’d like to retain and the car will do its best to manage this on your behalf.

There is also an automatic setting, which works with the sat-nav guidance to choose the most appropriate points on your route to deploy the electricity. You can manually activate full electric mode up to 87mph and cruise there until the remaining range runs out.

Fuel economy and charging times

The official fuel economy for the 330e is a claimed 138mpg in the WLTP real-world test, with CO2 emissions of 39g/km (that’s 10% less CO2 than the last version). You’ll need to be using the electric power a lot and mostly doing short journeys to get close to those figures, however.

You’ll also need to plug the hybrid part into the mains as many times as possible in between journeys; a full charge takes three hours and 25 minutes using a BMW i Wallbox, or five hours and 40 minutes using a plain old three-pin plug.

BMW 330e (2021) rear view, driving
What models and trims are available?

As with the standard car, quality is right up there, but the interior design has arguably become a little too generic, and despite the size of the screens available, remains rather cluttered. The 330e is available in SE, Sport and M Sport specification, just like the rest of the UK range.

BMW 330e (2021) side view
Should you buy one?

If you want a medium-sized plug-in hybrid family car, then this is the best you can buy right now. And as such, we can heartily recommend the 330e in either Saloon or Touring form – with the latter's additional practicality being an additional selling point for us.

Rivals include the Mercedes-Benz C-Class PHEV (in petrol and diesel forms), the Peugeot 508 PHEV, Volkswagen Passat GTE and Skoda Superb iV, and the. There's no Audi in the list – the A4 TFSIe is yet to be announced. And as an overall package, the 330e beats them all.

But while the 330e does the whole PHEV thing perfectly well, it still isn’t the kind of car that works as well as it should for car enthusiasts. This is well thought-out and even enjoyable tool, rather than the kind of genuinely emotional experience a really outstanding BMW can be.

Buy a new, nearly new or used BMW 3-Series 330e Hybrid

See all the current BMW 3-Series 330e deals on Parkers Cars For Sale

What we like

BMW’s plug-in hybrid is blessed with plentiful performance, an extended electric range of more than 40 miles and some other very clever tricks. Its popularity is no accident – you might buy it to save on tax, but you can enjoy yourself at the same time, as it's a BMW through-and-through and drives as it should.

What we don't like

It's all relative, but do bear in mind that if you're opting out of a 330d or 330i, it'll feel marginally less agile in your hands.


Mercedes E-Class hybrid review


"The smooth and quick Mercedes E-Class plug-in hybrids combine luxury with impressive fuel efficiency”

Those who live out of town might only encounter heavy traffic during the latter stages of the daily commute to and from work. It's in these circumstances, where the roads get congested, slow and polluted, that a plug-in hybrid really makes sense, and the Mercedes E 300 e and E 300 de plug-in hybrid’s are compelling options for those who want a decent amount of pure-electric range and low running costs for the daily commute.

The E-Class hybrid range underwent a midlife facelift in 2020, getting a subtly tweaked exterior design that included a new grille and restyled LED headlights. The interior was also given a tech refresh with the latest touchscreen version of Mercedes’ MBUX infotainment system.

Unlike plug-in hybrid rivals such as the BMW 530e and Volvo S90 T8 Recharge, which can only be had with a petrol engine and electric motor, the E-Class hybrid is available as a petrol or a diesel, badged ‘E 300 e’ and ‘E 300 de’ respectively.

Both versions combine their conventional internal combustion engines with a compact battery and an electric motor that's capable of propelling the car using only pure-electric power, while emitting zero CO2 emissions. Mercedes claims both cars are capable of triple-digit fuel economy figures, low CO2 emissions and over 30 miles of pure-electric range.

In fact, make frequent use of that capability and you could come close to realising Mercedes' fuel-efficiency claims, while emitting less than 50g/km of CO2 – a figure far lower than a petrol or diesel car can deliver. The former is good news for anyone who has to pay for fuel and the latter will be appreciated by company-car drivers who have the cost of Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) tax to worry about.

Away from what's under the bonnet, the cars conform to the usual E-Class template. That is to say you get an elegant, upmarket-looking car that continues to impress when you take a seat inside, finding yourself surrounded by high-quality materials, attractive finishes and advanced technology. A highlight of the latter is the dual-screen digital dashboard and infotainment system, as well as the smart blue mood lighting unique to the plug-in hybrid.

Every Mercedes E-Class is a smooth, quiet cruiser and the E 300 e and de are no exception. Although the four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines aren't as pleasing to the ear as a six-cylinder might be, it's certainly not obstructive and settles into the background once up to cruising speed. The ride is smooth and wind noise is minimal, so motorway cruising is relaxed.

The E-Class doesn't embarrass itself on winding roads, either – it doesn't have quite the steering precision of a BMW 5 Series or feel quite as agile when you pitch it into a fast corner, nor does it resist body lean as stoically as an Audi A6, but it's responsive, safe and well controlled, so you can take the rural route home in a hurry if you want to. There's no shortage of power, either – the E 300 e petrol engine produces 208bhp and the 121bhp electric motor provides a handy boost, for a total of 316bhp when you need it. Acceleration from 0-62mph takes less than six seconds.

The E 300 de diesel version is no slouch either, taking 5.9 seconds, and might be better suited to those who make frequent long high-speed journeys with an urban portion at either end.

Overall, the E-Class is a fantastic executive saloon that makes plenty of sense for business drivers. Its range and technology impress, as does refinement and the interior, but we'd stick with the AMG Line Edition without adding expensive Premium packs for the best value.

MPG, running costs & CO2
Business drivers stand the best chance of saving money in a Mercedes E 300 e or de

If your daily commute runs to no more than 15 miles each way, both the petrol and diesel versions of the Mercedes E-Class plug-in hybrid can get you to work and back without having to burn any fuel at all. This is courtesy of a claimed all-electric range of over 30 miles, which also helps the E 300 e to return a claimed fuel-economy figure of 176.6mpg, with the E 300 de even more efficient at up to 235.4mpg. The digital dashboard gives suggestions for economical driving, which can actually be curiously engaging to follow, gamifying the driving experience.

However, the testing procedure under which these economy figures were achieved assumes that owners can maximise the use of electric mode for a majority of their driving. If you cannot recharge the battery, or are making longer journeys where the battery becomes depleted, then you will be relying on the engine more often, which will make the official fuel consumption figures impossible to achieve.

During our test of the E 300 e, we spent the majority of our time running in pure-electric mode. One of the most impressive aspects of the car is its realistic electric range estimate, with a mile of range falling for every actual mile travelled - sadly this isn’t the case in every electrified car.

While Mercedes claims 33-35 miles of range with a fully charged battery, most drivers should be able to manage close to 20-25 miles in mixed driving, with around 30 miles possible at slower speeds in town. With the battery depleted, fuel economy is liable to fall to around 35mpg.

When compared to the petrol version, the E 300 de is a slightly different prospect that’s aimed at higher mileage drivers. While the claimed fuel economy of over 200mpg is a little fanciful, regular charging of the battery and careful use of the car’s driving modes returns around 51mpg across a mix of town and motorway driving. When running on pure-electric power, we were able to eke out around 15-20 miles, which is somewhat short of the 32-34 miles claimed by Mercedes. Once the battery was depleted, fuel economy fell to around 43mpg.

Every E-Class hybrid offers different driving modes to either hold onto battery charge (until you reach a town for instance), stay in electric mode, or use a mixture of engine and electric power. All aim to help the driver to maximise fuel economy.

The official CO2 emission figures of both cars are cast in stone regardless of your driving habits, with the E 300 e emitting 37g/km and the E 300 de just 33g/km. This means that company-car users can enjoy a low Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) rating, which is far lower than any pure petrol or diesel version of the E-Class; the likes of the E 200 and E 220 d sit close to the top of the BiK ratings.

The 13.5kWh battery can be charged via 7.2kWh wallbox in 1.5 hours. Opt for a three-pin plug socket and you can expect to wait around five hours for charging to complete. Unlike fully electric cars, there’s no fast-charging option.

Other running costs are unlikely to differ from the Mercedes E-Class norm, which is to say expensive servicing but reasonable parts prices and tyres that are a fairly common, sensibly priced size. You can take out a service contract to help manage the cost of routine servicing, and there's a three-year/unlimited-mileage warranty, which can be extended at extra cost.

The E-Class hybrid costs more than £40,000 to buy, incurring an additional tax surcharge of £325 a year. After this period, tax falls to the typical reduced rate for hybrids.

Engines, drive & performance
Plug-in hybrid power serves up strong performance, but doesn't bring excitement

The Mercedes E 300 e plug-in hybrid is very similar in concept to its BMW 530e hybrid rival. Both cars use a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, a battery pack and an electric motor. The Mercedes is faster, though.

With 208bhp from the petrol engine alone, 121bhp available from the electric motor and a total of 316bhp to call upon when you need it, the E 300 e can sprint from 0-62mph in 5.7 – and sprint is the operative word, with the electric motor capable of delivering all its power instantly. This makes it feel surprisingly urgent when you nudge the throttle, despite its size and weight.

However, the four-cylinder petrol engine can sound somewhat strained if you floor the throttle, with a noise that isn't as smooth or pleasing to the ear as the V6 in the Mercedes-AMG E 53; it just emits a nondescript wall of sound under full acceleration. This fades away when you take it easy, though, and is quieter than the E 220 d's diesel engine when cruising on the motorway. It's a shame, though, that such exciting acceleration doesn't come with an equally appealing soundtrack, and that the petrol engine has to work that much harder once the battery is depleted.

The E 300 e doesn't offer the last word in driving pleasure on a twisty road, either. Instead, the E-Class focuses on comfort and refinement over outright handling prowess. It feels planted and secure in corners but falls short for driver involvement when compared to a BMW 5 Series or Audi A6, even if its steering has a nicer feel.

In terms of overall refinement, the E-Class excels against its rivals and the E 300 e is no exception. It absorbs bumps and potholes with ease, especially if you add the optional air suspension. There's barely any wind noise at motorway speeds, and engine noise only becomes noticeable when overtaking or joining fast-flowing traffic.

During normal driving, the switch between petrol and electric power is barely noticeable, but is perhaps not as smooth as it could be. Once in all-electric mode at lower speeds, there's barely any noise at all, aside from a faint hint of tyre roar and the whirr of the electric motor.

With a combined 302bhp and 700Nm of torque, the diesel powered E 300 de feels as quick as its petrol power sibling, with the benchmark 0-62mph time taking 5.9 seconds. In real-world driving, it offers more shove than the E300 e thanks to the increased pulling power from the 2.0-litre diesel engine.

Switching between electric and diesel power is fairly unobtrusive, with a distant thrum letting you know the engine has started. On occasions in electric mode, the car did hesitate slightly under hard acceleration as it decided whether to fire up the diesel engine.

Much like the petrol-powered version, the E 300 de is smooth and refined on the move, with only the occasional hint of diesel clatter making its way inside the car. The additional pulling power of the diesel engine means there’s always enough power in reserve for getting up to speed or overtaking.

Again, the E 300 de cannot match the dynamics of a diesel 5 Series, but offers a greater level of refinement. It feels planted though, with plenty of grip and accurate turn in. In sharper corners, the additional weight of the diesel engine is noticeable, but the handling is good enough for most drivers.

Interior & comfort
The Mercedes E 300 e has a hi-tech look inside, without feeling cold or unwelcoming

The ability to cruise so quietly on the motorway makes it easier to enjoy the E-Class hybrid’s comfortable and well-designed interior. Both the petrol E 300 e and diesel E 300 de are identical inside, and while the Audi A6 may offer a more futuristic look and improved material quality, many will prefer the more traditional, comfortable feel of the Mercedes.

In terms of overall refinement, the E-Class excels against its rivals and the E 300 e is no exception. It absorbs bumps and potholes with ease, especially if you add the optional air suspension. There's barely any wind noise at motorway speeds, and engine noise only becomes noticeable when overtaking or joining fast-flowing traffic.

The specification of the E-Class plug-in hybrid range is the same as the standard car, with every version getting a pair of 12.3-inch displays mounted in parallel to create the illusion of a seamless display that flows from in front of the driver to the centre console. It incorporates a fully configurable digital instrument cluster that can display a rev counter or an 'efficiency' gauge that can help you eke the most range from the car’s battery.

The left-hand panel hosts the touchscreen infotainment display, which incorporates sat nav with 3D mapping, Bluetooth smartphone connection, DAB radio, and access to Mercedes' online services. These include a concierge service that can provide real-time information about parking spaces and local petrol prices.

As part of the 2020 facelift, the infotainment system has been improved and is easier to navigate. The addition of a responsive touchscreen makes it easier to operate with Mercedes’ MBUX infotainment system, which is on par with the best in the class. Top versions even feature augmented reality sat nav, which overlays directions on a live video view of the road ahead. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both included, and are far more straightforward to use via the touch interface. The addition of the full-screen digital dials is a nice touch as well, adding a luxury element from the S-Class.

The facelifted E-Class boasts an all-new steering wheel, which features a number of physical buttons. This layout is slightly confusing at first but is easy to get used to.

Every version of the E-Class plug-in hybrid is well-equipped, with the entry-level AMG Line Edition (an exclusive trim for the PHEV models) getting 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, heated seats, leather-trimmed upholstery, three-zone climate control and an array of standard safety kit.

Plusher AMG Line cars get multibeam LED lights and different interior trim. Stepping up to the AMG Line Premium trim adds to the kit list further still, with a 360-degree camera, augmented reality sat nav and keyless go.

The range-topping AMG Line Night Edition Premium Plus is fitted with a panoramic sunroof and gloss black detailing. Inside you get a premium Burmester stereo system and ash wood interior trim but the additional outlay means we think the standard AMG Line car is better value.

Practicality & boot space
The Mercedes E 300 e boasts lots of space for passengers, but batteries reduce boot space
On top of its elegant, high-quality interior and generous list of standard equipment, the Mercedes E-Class has lots of space for passengers to stretch out. It's not short of luggage room, either but does feature a smaller boot than the conventional models.

The latest E-Class was designed with a longer wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear wheels) than its predecessor, and that extra length has gone towards increasing interior space, particularly legroom. The front seats have lots of adjustment as standard, with fully electric memory seats available if you do find the perfect driving position elusive.

In the back, the E-Class nips at the heels of the more expensive Mercedes S-Class when it comes to space. The curvaceous roofline means rear headroom is the one area that could be more generous, but most will find legroom to spare, and only when there's a fifth person in the centre rear seat do passengers rub shoulders.

Interior storage is generous, too, with a large glovebox, storage area beneath the centre armrest and a wireless phone charging pad at the base of the dashboard.

The car’s battery has been fitted under the boot floor, which affects boot space. At 370 litres, the hybrid E-Class loses over 100 litres when compared to a standard petrol or diesel model.

Reliability & safety
The E-Class has strong safety credentials, but Mercedes' reputation for quality varies between owners

The Mercedes E-Class has yet to feature in our annual Driver Power owner satisfaction survey. However, taking into account all the Mercedes models that did feature, the brand finished in 28th place out of 30 manufacturers in 2020. Ending up towards the bottom of the table was an uninspiring result for a premium brand, but BMW actually finished just one place ahead of Mercedes. Both were beaten by 21st-place Audi, while Jaguar finished in a far more respectable 12th position.

Mercedes owners seemed particularly disappointed by servicing and running costs. Interior styling and build quality received more praise than handling and ride comfort, and reliability was regarded as below average, with 24% of owners reporting a fault within the first year of ownership.

The brand is often regarded as something of a pioneer when it comes to on-board safety equipment. The E-Class offers sophisticated features such as autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assistance, auto-dipping headlights and traffic-sign recognition, as well as active cruise control.

The plug-in hybrid E-Class shares its five-star Euro NCAP crash safety rating with other models in the range – the independent organisation awarded the Mercedes a 95% score for adult protection in a crash and rated it at 90% for how children are protected.

Mercedes GLC SUV review

“The Mercedes GLC is an SUV that benefits from a lot of C-Class pedigree, but with a raised ride height and improved practicality”

Mercedes has had a car battling against the BMW X3 and Audi Q5 since 2009, but to UK buyers this may not have been obvious because the old GLK-Class was only sold in left-hand-drive markets. However, since 2015, the GLC, which replaced the GLK, has been sold here and is an SUV version of the popular Mercedes C-Class saloon on which it’s based.

Mercedes gave the GLC a mild facelift in 2019, which involved some tweaks to the exterior design, some new engines and a plethora of technology upgrades inside. The updates were needed given how competitive the SUV market had become, and 2021 ushers in a plug-in hybrid version for the first time too.

Best 4x4s and SUVs
The revised GLC borrows engines and equipment from the C-Class. The similarities between the two models are harder to spot in style terms, however, unlike the Mercedes A-Class and GLA, which have more in common. The GLC is an attractive car in its own right, with the latest design including slimmer headlights and tail lights, and the latest Mercedes grille.

Every GLC comes with Mercedes' 4MATIC four-wheel drive and a smooth nine-speed automatic gearbox as standard. Versions badged 220 d and 300 d are fitted with the same 2.0-litre diesel, but tuned differently to produce 191 and 242bhp respectively. The 220d returns up to 45.6mpg and has CO2 emissions starting at 175g/km, while you can expect 42.8mpg and 184g/km from the 300 d, which are competitive figures. These are trumped by the GLC 300 e plug-in hybrid model, which can manage 26-31 miles of electric range and 122mpg. What’s more, its low CO2 emissions mean company-car tax is a third of the petrol and diesel engines.

A clear highlight of the GLC is its attractive and well built interior, which also has enough room for front and rear occupants to be comfortable, along with heater controls for people sitting in the back, which is surprisingly rare. There are lots of thoughtful cubbies and the 550-litre boot puts the GLC in the same territory as the X3 and Q5, while the Discovery Sport is more practical and has the option of seven seats.

The introduced the latest Mercedes MBUX infotainment system, but unlike all-new models, there's still a tablet-style central screen perched on the dash, that looks slightly incongruous. The software is a major upgrade, though, and the main screen now responds to touch as well as the central control pad. A regular set of dials are standard, while a large 12.3-inch digital version is available as an option.

On the road, it soon becomes apparent that Mercedes concentrated on comfort when developing the GLC. It’s very smooth on the standard suspension and even more cosseting if the optional air-suspension is fitted. Drivers on the hunt for thrills may feel short-changed, though – while the Volvo XC60 is even softer, the newer BMW X3 is more responsive and poised on a country road.

There are effectively three trim levels, consisting of the core AMG Line trim, plus Premium and Premium Plus versions. The 220 d engine is only available in AMG Line Premium and below; the more powerful 300 d is the AMG Line Premium and up. Desirable items like a powered tailgate, reversing camera and Artico leather upholstery are all included, along with sat nav and LED headlights. AMG Line Premium GLCs gain distinctive body styling and an interior makeover, as well as even bigger 20-inch alloy wheels.

AMG Line is now the most appealing trim for company-car drivers and we'd recommend spending the extra monthly finance cost for private buyers too, to benefit from all the GLC has to offer. The Premium equipment line includes adaptive headlights, running boards, a larger instrument display, ambient lighting, augmented reality navigation, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility and wireless smartphone charging.

Before it was facelifted, the GLC came 61st out of 100 models in our 2019 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, but reliability wasn't a strong point, so owners will be hoping issues have been remedied. Further peace of mind should be provided by the GLC’s five-star Euro NCAP crash-test rating.

Mercedes GLC SUV - MPG, running costs & CO2

The Mercedes GLC is actually quite economical given its size

The Mercedes GLC is pretty economical for an SUV, with its claimed figures rivalling the likes of the Audi Q5 and BMW X3. Mercedes also offers competitive warranty and servicing plans.

Mercedes GLC MPG & CO2
The 220 d version of the 2.0-litre diesel engine can return up to 45.6mpg, reducing slightly in top trims with optional wheels fitted. CO2 emissions of 175g/km mean it sits in the highest BiK band, which won’t appeal to company-car drivers. The more powerful GLC 300d is a shade less economical, at up to 42.8mpg, with emissions of 184g/km. By comparison, the BMW X3 xDrive 30d offers more pace and returns 46.3mpg with 159g/km.

Petrol engines are offered too. A GLC 300 model promises up to 33.6mpg, while the AMG 43 and 63 models above are even thirstier. They certainly prioritise speed over running costs; you can expect 26 and 22mpg respectively. All petrols are in the top BiK band.

A plug-in hybrid GLC 300 de version is now available, pairing the 2.0-litre diesel engine with a 13.5kWh battery. It offers 27 miles of electric range and up to 156.9mpg if you regularly recharge the battery, while business users will be drawn to its 12-13% BiK rate. It’s also exempt from the London Congestion Charge until October 2021. In 2021 it was joined by the GLC 300 e, with a petrol 2.0-litre engine and an electric range of 26-31 miles. It can officially manage up to 128.4mpg with emissions of 62g/km and it takes around 2.5 hours to charge the battery using a 7kW home wallbox.

After the first year's CO2-based road tax (generally included in the on-the-road price), Mercedes GLCs cost £150 a year to tax, or £10 less if it's a hybrid. Every GLC now has a list price (including options) of more than £40,000, making it liable for an additional surcharge of £325 a year in years two to six, bringing the annual bill to £475 during that period.

Insurance groups for the facelifted Mercedes GLC are quite high, with diesel versions starting in groups 32 and the GLC 300 de in groups 44-45 out of 50. Oddly, this is just as high as the AMG versions in groups 41-44.

Mercedes provides a three-year/unlimited-mileage warranty on all of its new models, which is the same as BMW offers on the X3. Pan-European Mercedes Roadside Assistance is also included, that can last up to 30 years if you keep the car maintained within the dealership network.

Mercedes offers fixed-price servicing plans that cover all scheduled maintenance. You can pay all in one go up front or spread the cost over monthly instalments, which should be about £35 for a diesel GLC.

Mercedes GLC SUV - Engines, drive & performance

Its diesel engines are smooth, but the Mercedes GLC is more of a comfortable cruiser than an exciting driver’s car

Engine choice is reasonably limited in the Mercedes GLC, but the two diesel options are very smooth on the move. All also come with four-wheel drive as standard – a system Mercedes calls 4MATIC. The GLC is almost car-like to drive and as comfortable and sophisticated as a luxury limousine – a happy consequence of sharing a platform with the C-Class saloon.

The GLC is at its best when driven in a relaxed, unfussed manner than on spirited back-road jaunts. Although all models have clever dampers as standard, they seem optimised for soaking up bumps and improving ride comfort rather than providing sharper responses. For a truly rewarding SUV driving experience, the BMW X3 and Jaguar F-Pace remain the cars to beat, although in the comfort stakes, the Merc trumps the Alfa Romeo Stelvio. The Volvo XC60 is even more comfortable still.

Mercedes GLC SUV nose20
The GLC leans a little during hard cornering, but not so much as to feel unsettling and less than the Audi and Volvo. The steering is accurate enough, yet feels rather light and requires quite large inputs, so there’s little to encourage fast driving anyway. It’s far better to ease off the accelerator and cruise, which the Mercedes does very well.

All models use a smooth, responsive nine-speed automatic gearbox, which does a good job of keeping the engine revs low in the interest of fuel economy. The four-wheel-drive system is permanently engaged and uses traction control to ensure a firm grip on the road – any wheel found to be slipping is lightly braked and the engine's power is sent to the wheel on the opposite side to get you moving again.

Mercedes GLC diesel engines
Many people buying an SUV of this size will choose a diesel, and there are two available, badged 220 d and 300 d. Both are different versions of Mercedes' four-cylinder 2.0-litre engine, which is smoother and quieter than the 2.1-litre diesel it replaces, but still slightly more clattery than the best diesel engines found in rivals.

It might not appear like it if you look at the official performance claims, but most drivers will be satisfied with the slower 220 d, and it suits the GLC well. Mercedes claims 0-62mph times of 7.9 for the 200 d and 6.5 seconds for the 300 d, both of which will be more than fast enough for most SUV owners. That means our top pick is the cheaper 220 d, and it's a shame this isn't available with every trim level. Unlike the coarse old engine, the GLC 300 d we sampled was as smooth and quiet as a petrol, but with even more urge in real-world driving.

Petrol engines
Talking of petrol, the GLC 300 with 254bhp is available, featuring a new turbocharger, engine design and particulate filter all aimed at reducing emissions. It's also fitted with a mild-hybrid system that can recoup energy as the car slows down, then use it to aid acceleration. Acceleration from 0-62mph takes 6.2 seconds, while its top speed is 149mph. AMG models are even faster - the 43 model cracks 0-62mph in under five seconds, and the 63 and 63 S reduce this to four seconds or less. With the speed limiter removed, the GLC 63 S will carry on all the way to 174mph.

Hybrid engine
Most plug-in hybrids use a petrol engine, but the GLC 300 de has a diesel engine for long-range economy. The combination produces 302bhp, so the PHEV is quick too - 0-62mph takes 6.2 seconds. For 2021 the petrol-based GLC 300 e plug-in has also arrived, and it's even faster, taking just 5.7 seconds to get from 0-62mph.

Its 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine and electric motor produce a combined 316bhp, and it does a good job of prioritising electric power when the battery is charged. In this mode it's almost silent, and even when the petrol engine kicks in it's almost imperceptible. There's also a clever regenerative braking system that can be adjusted using the paddles behind the steering wheel or left to work automatically based on the road and traffic.

Mercedes GLC SUV - Interior & comfort

The Mercedes GLC has a well built interior and even the entry-level model has loads of standard kit

The Mercedes GLC boasts an impressive, high-quality dashboard and interior design that’s more luxurious and up-to-date than what you’ll find in many rivals. All models are well equipped, but you’d expect them to be considering the GLC’s price. We'd recommend choosing an AMG Line Premium trim or above to really experience all the GLC has to offer.

Thanks to a honed suspension setup and using some parts from the Mercedes C-Class saloon, the GLC is very comfortable on the move whether on the standard steel springs of the Sport or the optional AIRMATIC system. Road and wind noise are minimal and a clever crosswind prevention system helps to keep the GLC stable at high speeds. Even the more sportily tuned AMG Line models maintain the comfortable ride of the Sport, although the wider tyres do kick up a little more noise from the road.

Mercedes GLC dashboard
The GLC shines when you sit behind the wheel. The entire design looks like it’s been lifted straight from the C-Class saloon, as there’s loads of solid metal switchgear and clear instruments. The middle of the dashboard is dominated by a single piece of wood or gloss-black veneer that starts from just underneath the infotainment screen and swoops down to connect to the centre console.

The classic air vents look like they’ve been taken straight from a vintage aircraft and the control for the sat nav and infotainment is the only control interruption on the centre console. The steering column-mounted gear selector is a little strange to get used to, though. It's also a shame that the standard analogue gauges and central trip computer look dated compared with the digital instruments fitted in AMG Line Premium trim.

The GLC now comes in AMG Line trim as standard but extra kit can be added by upgrading to Premium and Premium Plus versions. Even the entry-level model has a comprehensive amount of equipment: a reversing camera, Parktronic, a powered tailgate, rain-sensing wipers, LED headlights, leather seats, automatic climate control, sat-nav and DAB radio are all standard.

The AMG Line Premium version throws in a sports bodykit and interior makeover, sports suspension, 20-inch AMG alloy wheels, adaptive headlights, ambient lighting and a 12.3-inch digital instrument display. Premium Plus is even more lavish, thanks to a panoramic sunroof, Burmester stereo system, keyless entry, 360-degree camera view and memory front seats and steering wheel.

The Driving Assistance package is worth considering if you spend a lot of time behind the wheel, adding blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assistance, adaptive cruise control and a system that applies the brakes if it thinks you're about to hit the car in front. Air-suspension can also be fitted, further improving the ride quality. If you plan on towing, an official tow bar costs around £750.

 Mercedes GLC SUV - Practicality & boot space

The Mercedes GLC provides loads of storage areas and its boot is a decent size, if not class-leading

Considering it’s an SUV, the GLC is easy enough to get into, as its doors open nice and wide. The steering wheel and driver’s seat have plenty of adjustment and there’s plenty of room in the back. Boot space is good, if not class-leading, but the plug-in hybrid offers noticeably less due to its batteries taking up some of the luggage room.

Mercedes GLC interior space & storage
The GLC offers a decent amount of leg and headroom in the rear, but the transmission tunnel can eat into space for the middle-seat passenger.

Interior storage is good, thanks to a generous space in the front armrest and a deep cubby in front of the infotainment dial in the centre console. The door bins can all hold bottles and rear-seat occupants get their own air ventilation and an armrest that features a storage cubby and two cup-holders.

Boot space
Total boot volume is about on par with a lot of the GLC’s rivals. The 550 litres on offer is the same as what you get in the BMW X3 and equal to the Audi Q5’s boot. However, it’s less than what’s available when you fold down the Land Rover Discovery Sport’s third row of seats. The GLC’s rear seats fold in a 40:20:40 configuration with the pull of a lever, offering extra versatility and more room in the boot if needed.

In the boot you’ll find the usual range of neat practical touches like anchor points for smaller items and a cubby either side to store bits and bobs. The boot itself is square and the opening is large, so getting awkwardly shaped items in should be a breeze, especially with the power-operated tailgate.

Compared to the 550 litres you get in petrol and diesel cars, the PHEV’s boot is a bit smaller at 395 litres. That’s only 25 litres more than in the A-Class hatchback but at least the boot floor is flat, unlike the annoying step in the boot of the E-Class plug-in. It also benefits from underfloor storage, so you can keep your charging cables separate from your shopping.

All diesel GLC models can tow 2,500kg – more than most versions of the Land Rover Discovery Sport, and matching the D240. Both the GLC 300 de and 300 e can also tow up to 2,000kg, which is an impressive amount for a plug-in hybrid.


Lexus RX L review


Seven-seater version of beautifully built Lexus hybrid SUV

The Lexus RX L is a seven-seated version of the Lexus RX, a large SUV that's been offering buyers the choice of hybrid capability for 20 years.

Hybrid SUVs scything through big cities might be commonplace now, but it wasn't the case in the late nineties. Then Lexus came along with the original RX, changing the way posh city dwellers drive. Now people could choose a large car with an imposing seating position that was also kind to the environment.

The RX is equally as good away from tight city streets, and now it has another string to its bow - seven seats, in the form of this RX L.

The RXL goes toe-to-toe with the likes of the Audi Q7, Volvo XC90, BMW X5 and Range Rover Sport. It's pitched as a standalone model that sits alongside the five-door RX. Lexus reckons two thirds of customers will choose five seats, while one third will opt for seven.

Lexus RX 450hL: the seven-seater SUV

Only one variant is sold in the UK: the RX 450h L. The h in that name signifies that it’s the hybrid petrol-electric version. Other markets elsewhere in Europe offer a petrol-only powertrain, but it’s not available here.

The 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine is mated to an electric motor on each axle and the RX L constantly juggles between the power sources; there is an EV Mode button on the centre console that drivers can select if they want to whirr around town silently for ultimate eco-warrior status. Just be mindful that you can only drive for a couple of miles before the small battery will be depleted and the engine kicks in to take over.

Do I have to plug in my Lexus RX L?

No - it is not a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, or PHEV. Instead, the V6 petrol provides charge to the nickel metal hydride battery pack under the rear seats and this is why Lexus has started referring to the technology as a self-charging hybrid.

The system works well and there is little complication for drivers to tackle; merely slot the automatic transmission into D for Drive and set off. Electronics constantly shuffle the power supply, the only indication of what’s happening being the electronic display between the speedo and power supply dial.

Lexus RX 450hL prices and specs

With only a single engine available, the RX L price structure is very simple. UK prices start from just under £53,000, around £1,300 more expensive than the regular five-seat RX.

Choose from two trim levels: RX 450hL and Takumi.

RX 450hL 20-inch alloys, keyless entry, 12.3-inch infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, electric tailgate
Takumi (in addition to standard car) Heated/ventilated front seats, 360-degree camera, Mark Levinson Surround Sound System

Lexus RX L review: what's it like to drive?

It’s important to realise that the RX 450hL shares the same wheelbase as the regular RX - the underlying oily bits are the same and there is no change to the distance between the wheels. Instead, the extra space comes from an elongated rear end, stretched by 110mm.

So, it drives in a very similar fashion to the five-seat car. The Lexus RX L is now a long vehicle at precisely five metres and heavy at around 2.2 tonnes, but it never feels unwieldy. Although the parking sensors and cameras are really appreciated when squeezing into tight spaces.

On the road, the RX 450hL has a laid-back gait: this is an extremely relaxing car to drive, with impeccable refinement, whisper-quiet powertrain and little wind noise (double glazing helps here). At a cruise, it is extremely impressive.

However, that peace is disturbed somewhat if you go for an overtake or drive up a steep hill; the Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) gearbox sends the revs soaring sky-high as the V6 engine wakes up and provides its thrust. In fairness, the powertrain is much better than earlier iterations and in day-to-day driving, it’s much more relaxed.

It is impressive how frequently the car runs on electric power alone; a green EV logo lights up in the dashboard and you simply cruise silently for long stretches in and out of town, virtual halo firmly intact above your head.

If you want a dynamic, more involving drive, we’d look at the more engaging BMW X5 or Range Rover Sport; the RX is somewhat detached and sterile, even in Sport mode. But we commend its focus on chilled-out comfort: it’s bang-on for the Lexus family character and SUV buyers favouring comfort and premium luxury over cornering prowess will love it.

Practicality and those seven seats

Lexus RX 450 hL rear-most seats are good enough for occasional useEnlarge0videoEnlarge41photo
Accommodation in the front and middle rows is generous. There is no transmission tunnel at all for the second row, meaning lots of space for feet. Headroom is plentiful too.

There is an impressive 150mm of fore-aft adjustment of the middle row, letting you juggle space for luggage and limbs. Crucially, it also means you can slide the bench forwards to ease entry to the third row (an easy, one-handed affair).

Seats six and seven fold up and down electrically and are best reserved for children or small adults on short journeys. Room for head and legs is tight, though competitive with the class norm, and there’s third-row climate control as standard so kids in the back can be as cool or hot as they wish.

Perhaps more impressive than back-row accommodation is luggage space: unlike some seven-seaters, the boot is a decent size at 495 litres when set up as a five-seater. Pop down both rows of rear seats and the cargo bay stretches to an echoing 966 litres. With all seven pews up, there is 176 litres worth of space in the boot.

Build quality is exceptional throughout; Lexus has interior quality licked and we have every reason to expect the RX L to be a safe and trouble-free long-term proposition.

Lexus RX 450hL emissions and running costs

This is one of the RX’s party tricks: its hybrid powertrain brings with it devilishly attractive tax and running cost advantages, especially if you’re a company car driver. There is no diesel option at all.

Claimed CO2 emissions start at 185g/km, rising to 186g/km for models with a sunroof. Fuel economy meanwhile is stated at 34.4mpg. In reality, we expect 40+mpg to be a feasible result in typical driving.

Be warned that service intervals are shorter than the German competition’s: you’ll have to visit your local Lexus dealership every 10,000 miles or annually. Insurance group rankings vary between group 41 and 43, depending on which spec level you plump for.

Lexus RX 450hL infotainment

The Lexus received an updated infotainment system in 2019 - something it desperately needed. The old one was outdated and fiddly becuase it used a mouse-operated multi-controller system.

Luckily, the new system is a lot easier. The 12.3-inch central touchscreen is methodical in design, while if you don't want to use that on the move there's a trackpad with haptic feedback like you'd find on a high-end phone.

It all works effortlessly, although there are lots and lots of options we suspect many people may not ever use, and it's still not as easy to use as traditional systems like you'll find in the BMW X5. At least the Lexus has physical buttons for the heating system - unlike the Volvo XC90.

Phone connectivity is also here with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, both of which basically make the car's infotainment system work like your phone.


New Land Rover Discovery Sport PHEV review

The Land Rover Discovery Sport P300e plug-in hybrid promises 135mpg and an all-electric range of 38 miles, but does it deliver?


The switch to plug-in electrification does bring a compromise or two to Land Rover’s most affordable family SUV. You’ll need to accept it as a five-seater only, and it comes with a pretty hefty price that may put off private buyers. But for company car choosers, the considerable BiK savings are impossible to ignore; this is a very practical vehicle that is still good to drive, and suddenly more affordable.

The Land Rover Discovery Sport really upped its game when it switched platforms as part of a mid-life update last year. Mild-hybrid power helped the family SUV to deliver much-needed efficiency gains - but now there’s the option of a plug-in hybrid version that could be ideally suited to daily commutes and school runs.

The Discovery Sport P300e shares its basic powertrain with the newly launched Evoque P300e. That means a 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine driving the front wheels, and 107bhp electric motor on the rear axle, delivering four-wheel drive when required. There’s 15kWh battery, too - enough, Land Rover claims, for the car to travel up to 38 miles on electric power alone. With a Benefit-in-Kind tax rating of 10 per cent, that should make this Disco Sport a hefty chunk cheaper for company car choosers than any of its siblings.

The adoption of the part-electric powertrain doesn’t affect the Disco Sport’s four-wheel drive credentials; the electric motor on the back axle is always on standby for slippery conditions and off-roading, even if the official battery capacity is at zero. It does remove the possibility of the Disco Sport’s occasional third-row seats, sadly - but the boot capacity beyond the second row is still cavernous, at 963 litres.

If you’re wondering if a three-cylinder engine-based powertrain can have enough shove to cope with such a practicality-focused model, you needn’t worry. The instant torque from the electric motor allows the Disco Sport to glide around town without much effort at all. It would feel quite at home completing a week’s worth of short school runs on EV power alone, frankly - and the ability to go from zero to 80 per cent of battery capacity in less than 90 minutes on even a 7kW home wallbox would make overnight recharges very easy indeed.

The car’s behaviour on the open road is a slightly different matter. We’ve been impressed with the P300e powertrain’s smooth transitions in the Evoque and that trait is present and correct here too, we’re glad to report. Keep the Disco Sport in Hybrid mode and should you extend the system to the point where the engine kicks in, you’ll barely notice the start-up. In this area at least, Land Rover’s is among the best set-ups that we’ve experienced.

The engine itself, though, is definitely more vocal in the Disco Sport than it is in the Evoque. It doesn’t appear to be revs-related either, but there are harmonies and chirps allowed through to the cabin in the Disco that simply aren’t present in its smaller, style-focused stablemate. We’re bemused by this - the installation ought to be damn-near identical - but perhaps there’s a layer of soundproofing that gets applied to Range Rovers but not to Land Rovers.

Either way, just accept that you will get some three-cylinder grumble here - but in the grand scheme of things it’s probably no worse than what you’d experience with a modern diesel. And as with the Evoque, you can use a natty gauge in the instrument panel to temper your attitude on the right-hand pedal and, battery level permitting, prevent the engine from being called upon at all, particularly around town.

The drive itself is every bit as accomplished in P300e form as it is in regular Disco Sports. The transmission in the PHEV is an eight-speed auto (compared with nine-speeds elsewhere in the range) but it’s a solid performer, smart enough to work with the driver and delivering smooth shifts when required.

There’s no getting around the fact that this is a tallish SUV, so there’s a bit of body roll in corners, but in general it’s well controlled and there’s bags of grip to give you confidence, even in slippery conditions. The steering remains slower than in the Landie’s German rivals, but it’s precise enough and makes it easy to place the car in corners. Front visibility is still a strong point, too, and the ClearSight digital rear-view mirror helps to eliminate blind spots behind you.

The 2021-model-year Discovery Sport gets Land Rover’s latest Pivi Pro infotainment system, which is a huge leap over what was previously offered. It delivers proper smartphone integration and the system has quick to respond to inputs.

Curiously, the P300e is being restricted to R-Dynamic editions of the Discovery Sport - although you at least have the option of S, SE and HSE once you’ve ticked that initial box. That means you get plenty of kit, even at the entry point that we’ve driven here, but it does bump the price up to the point where private buyers would need to think hard about the potential savings on running costs.



Kia Sorento Is Compelling in Hybrid Form

The front-wheel-drive hybrid version of Kia's redesigned Sorento mid-size three-row crossover packs a solid 227 horsepower and a 37-mpg EPA combined estimate.

The new 2021 Kia Sorento hybrid doesn't make a big deal of itself, despite being the first electrically assisted version of Kia's mid-size crossover. It's got a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, and it drives like you'd expect—except that the little four feels like it has about 25 percent more displacement than it actually does. In fact, the Sorento hybrid's combined output—227 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque—nearly matches that of the 2020 Volkswagen GTI. Like a GTI, the front-wheel-drive-only Sorento torments its front tires with torque. Unlike the compact GTI, though, it has three rows of seats and an EPA combined estimate of 37 mpg. Thus concludes our references to the Volkswagen GTI, but we hope the comparisons helped you subliminally internalize the idea that the Sorento hybrid is actually kind of fun.

To get the Sorento hybrid's 227 horses out of a 1.6-liter turbo-four, you'd generally have to boost the bejesus out of it. Kia didn't do that. But it did pair the engine with a sizable electric motor and a 1.5-kWh lithium battery that enables some neat tricks. Such as producing an abundance of torque off the line and sailing along at highway speeds with the engine off. And yes, achieving solid fuel-economy ratings of 39 mpg in the city and 35 on the highway.

Kia's highly specific spec sheet lists the 1.6-liter as making 177.2 horsepower and 195.4 pound-feet of torque from 1500 to 4500 rpm. The electric motor generates a claimed 60.1 horses and 194.7 pound-feet from zero up to 1600 revs. Notice that those two torque figures are both almost the same and happen at low revs, which helps explain why the hybrid's low-end grunt feels diesel-like in strength. It's simply a smooth, prodigious shove that's out of proportion to the gas engine's displacement.

The 1.6 does sometimes lug at low rpm, particularly when climbing grades, as the transmission holds a tall gear and leans on the electric motor for help. But that's a common hybrid trait. As dealership sales reps like to say: They all do that. And, as we tend we say: At least it's not a CVT (continuously variable automatic transmission). Should you desire a lower gear from the Sorento hybrid's conventional automatic, there are paddle shifters on the back of the steering wheel.

The Sorento hybrid offers no dedicated electric-only mode, but nonetheless it relies on electric power surprisingly often and at high speeds. Light on the throttle, downhill, you'll see the green EV indicator light come on at 80 mph. While its relatively tiny battery means you won't ever go far on electricity alone, this Sorento is good at seamlessly juggling its propulsion options without calling attention to the machinations happening beyond the firewall.

Priced at $34,760 to start for the base S trim, the hybrid costs $1700 more than a non-hybrid Sorento S, which employs a 191-hp naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder and an eight-speed automatic. That model is only rated for 26 mpg combined, and the EPA figures that over five years, the hybrid will save you $1750 in fuel. Your mileage may vary, of course, but you'll notice that those estimated savings neatly erase the hybrid's price premium. It looks as if a half-decade is your financial break-even point, if that's a motivating factor. But the hybrid also is the significantly more powerful option, and that's a worthy upgrade on its own. Just don't expect it to outpace the nonhybrid Sorento's optional 281-hp 2.5-liter turbo-four that we've already driven.

In terms of drawbacks, the Sorento hybrid has a couple. It's only available as a front-driver, so if all-wheel drive is nonnegotiable you'll need to look elsewhere—or wait for the upcoming plug-in hybrid variant that drives all four of its wheels with a combined 261 horses and a significantly larger battery. The hybrid also shouldn't be your pick if you expect to tow much with it, as its 2000-pound tow rating lags behind the nonhybrid models' 3500-pound max. But if neither of those factors is an issue, you may as well spring for the hybrid over the standard Sorento. Think of it as a five-year investment in free horsepower.


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