Ford Puma ST SUV review

"The Ford Puma ST is great to drive, has a brilliant engine and offers all the practicality of an SUV with hot hatch thrills"


We already liked the new Ford Puma because it’s a practical SUV that’s also good to drive, and now there’s an even sportier version, called the Puma ST, which has a more powerful engine and changes to make it sharper to drive.

Alternatives to the Puma ST include the Volkswagen T-Roc R and the Audi SQ2, although both are both much more expensive and more powerful than the Ford. Don’t assume that it makes them more fun though.

The Puma uses parts from the fantastic Fiesta ST hot hatchback, in particular the 1.5-litre EcoBoost three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine. It produces 197bhp and 320Nm of torque, the same as in the Fiesta ST supermini, and there’s a six-speed manual gearbox, improved brakes plus suspension changes.

The Puma does drive differently to the Fiesta as it’s a larger car but this is also because Ford has designed it to be better at everyday tasks. It’s more practical than the Fiesta as a result, though not quite as fun to drive.

The Puma is still the best-handling small SUV you can buy and if you need an SUV but want the thrills of a hot hatch, then the Ford Puma ST could be a brilliant buy. Read on to find out more in our full review.

MPG, running costs & CO2

Since the Puma ST uses a three-cylinder 1.5-litre petrol engine, it’s actually fairly economical for a performance car. Don’t set your expectations too high, though, as the ST isn’t as frugal as the standard versions of the Puma.

Official figures suggest that the Puma will return 40.9mpg and emit 155g/km of CO2, which is better than the Audi SQ2’s 33mpg and the VW T-Roc R’s 32mpg. While those are all figures from official tests rather than real-world driving, we still expect the Puma to be more economical.

The Puma makes more sense than either of those models to buy; it’s around £10,000 cheaper than the Audi or Volkswagen, depending on specification, yet is more fun to drive than either of them.

Engines, drive & performance
One of the best-handling SUVs you can buy

Fast Fords are consistently excellent to drive and the Puma ST is no exception - in fact, we’d argue that it’s the most fun you can currently have in any small SUV.

The ride can be a little bumpy at low speeds but once you’re going more quickly, the Puma ST is relatively smooth and feels at home on country roads. It’s great fun to steer through a series of bends on a twisty road.

The steering is very sharp, which can feel a little disconcerting because you can often turn it too much without meaning to. Once you get used to it, this is less of a problem, but it does feel slightly oversensitive.

Performance is very good: the Puma ST goes from 0-62mph in 6.7 seconds, which seems well-judged for UK roads because you can have plenty of fun within the speed limit. It’s not quite as quick as the smaller Ford Fiesta ST but outright straight-line speed is not what this car is about.

The rest of the driving experience is great too; the manual gear shift is fun to use, the pedals are nicely placed and the brakes feel strong and reliable.

Interior & comfort
Not the most comfortable Puma but comfortable seats make a difference

In the Puma ST you get some really supportive and comfortable Recaro sports seats as standard, which help to keep you in place when cornering. Larger drivers might find they’re a bit tight.

The ST also comes with a flat-bottomed steering wheel with ST badging, some new pedals and a different gearknob. You also get wireless charging for your smartphone, parking sensors, a 12.3-inch digital driver’s display and an eight-inch infotainment touchscreen with Ford's SYNC 3 software, sat nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

This makes the Puma ST one of the best-equipped models in the Puma range and while the interior does have some cheaper-looking plastics, the level of technology means it feels modern and pleasant inside.

Practicality & boot space

The Puma ST is just as practical as the standard version

All of the regular Puma’s neat practical touches are still present in the ST model, which is great to see. The fantastic ‘Mega Box’ is present in the boot - this is a huge storage compartment under the floor that’s big enough for a whole family shop.

The boot itself is excellent at 456 litres, and the plastic floor means you can even hose it out - there’s a plug at the bottom of the Mega Box that lets water drain away.

Inside the Puma you’ll find a good amount of passenger space, though adults in the back might start to feel cramped on a longer trip.

Reliability & safety

High-performance Puma will match normal version for safety

The Puma ST takes the same Euro NCAP safety rating as the normal car - that being a five-star score with an excellent rating for adult protection. Thanks to autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane keep assist and adaptive cruise control, it’s packed with safety kit.

Ford came in 24th place in this year’s Driver Power survey, which was disappointing as it’s near the bottom of the list. It indicates that, on average, the ownership experience isn’t as good as it is for many other brands.

Source: carbayer.co.uk

Ford Kuga SUV review

“The latest Ford Kuga is great to drive, good value and practical, so it should prove to be a very popular family SUV”

The Ford Kuga is a family SUV that’s an alternative to models such as the Volkswagen Tiguan, Skoda Karoq and Hyundai Tucson. Ford has two other SUVs, the EcoSport and the Puma, and the Kuga is larger than both of them - and costs more to buy.

If you’re looking for a medium-size SUV, there’s also the Toyota RAV4, the Peugeot 3008 and many more. Almost all the big car manufacturers offer a model like this, as they’re so popular. The Ford Kuga has its own appeal, though, which helps it to stand out.

Best family SUVs

The Kuga’s biggest strength, and the aspect that will appeal most, is the way it drives. The original Kuga was known for being the best car to drive of its type when it came out, and while this new model isn’t quite so far ahead of the competition, it’s still really enjoyable to spend time behind the wheel.

There are plenty of engines to pick from; there are two 1.5-litre petrol options, three diesels, a petrol-electric hybrid and a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) model with an official economy figure of over 200mpg. This version can drive for 35 miles on electricity alone, which is how it manages that incredible figure. One of the diesel engines (the 148bhp 2.0-litre model) also features mild-hybrid assistance to boost economy, though it can’t drive on battery power alone.

You’ll recognise the interior as Ford has carried over most of the parts from its other SUVs and hatchbacks. While it hasn’t got quite the same visual appeal as a Peugeot 3008 or Mazda CX-5, it’s logically laid out and the standard-fit eight-inch touchscreen controls a lot of the features. High-spec cars get a crisp 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster for the first time.

There are five trim levels to choose from, with the line-up kicking off at the Zetec model. Considering its entry-level position and low price, it’s rather well-equipped with sat nav, wireless phone charging, auto headlights and keyless start, plus a lot of standard safety kit.

Titanium adds LED lights, two-zone climate control and a premium speaker system, plus that 12.3-inch digital dial display. Then there are the sporty-looking ST-Line Edition and ST-Line X Edition pair, and the range-topping Vignale with unique styling touches and even more equipment.

A family SUV wouldn’t be much use if it wasn’t practical, but the Kuga impresses in this respect too. The rear seats slide fore and aft so you can prioritise legroom or boot space, and there are 526 litres to fill with the seats pushed forward. That compares well to the SEAT Ateca’s 510 litres and the 472 litres offered in the Renault Kadjar.

The Kuga has already gained a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating, which should be reassuring. However, Ford will hope the new Kuga improves the company’s position on our Driver Power survey; it came 24th out of 30 manufacturers in 2020.

Ford Kuga SUV - MPG, running costs & CO2

The Ford Kuga has economical engines and maintenance costs should be very competitive

Ford still has faith in diesel power, despite a fall in sales. In the Kuga there are three to choose from: a 118bhp 1.5-litre, a 148bhp 2.0-litre with mild-hybrid assistance and a 187bhp version of the 2.0-litre, which goes without the mild-hybrid tech. The mild-hybrid engine returns up to 57.6mpg and is expected to be popular with higher-mileage drivers, while the smaller diesel offers up to 60.1mpg with the manual gearbox (53.3mpg with the automatic) and the 187bhp engine can manage up to 49.6mpg. It’s the only model with four-wheel drive, so that figure isn’t too bad.

The two petrol engines both return between 42 and 43mpg, so won’t be too costly to run for low-mileage drivers. The normal hybrid model can return up to 51.4mpg. Provided you keep the battery topped up and drive mostly on electric power, the 2.5-litre PHEV model could offer the best economy; Ford says up to 201.8mpg is possible, but we’d recommend taking that with a pinch of salt. On longer journeys when the petrol engine will be the main power source, you’ll likely get an MPG figure in the mid-forties.

Perhaps more relevant is its claimed 35-mile electric range, as it will allow many commuters and families to complete their daily journeys without using a drop of fuel if the battery is fully charged. The PHEV will also appeal to business drivers, as its 32g/km CO2 emissions figure means a Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) tax rate of just 10% from April 2020. That compares to a 30% BiK rate for most petrols (the normal hybrid is 29%) and 30-32% for the front-wheel-drive diesels. VED costs £150 for petrol and diesel models, while the PHEV qualifies for a £10 annual discount.

Insurance groups

Insurance groups cover a relatively wide spread in the Kuga range but it shouldn’t be too expensive to insure.The entry-level petrol model sits in group 10, while the lower-powered diesel is in group 12. The range moves up to the most expensive PHEV model, which is in group 21.

For comparison, the Skoda Karoq starts in group 10 and the Peugeot 3008 spans groups 11-24.

Servicing

Ford has the largest dealer network in the UK, with a garage in most towns, and servicing doesn’t tend to be too expensive. Your dealer will be able to advise on service plans, which will cover a couple of services for an upfront fee or monthly payments.

Warranty

Like all new Ford cars, the Kuga features a three-year/ 60,000-mile warranty. That’s about average, but the Toyota RAV4 and Hyundai Tucson both have five-year warranties, and the Kia Sportage and MG HS offer an impressive seven years of cover.

 Engines, drive & performance

It’s safe to say that previous Kugas have been a mixed bag to drive. The first-generation car was more fun than almost all of its rivals, but Ford tried to make the next one appeal to a wider audience, and it lost some of its sharpness as a result. We’re happy to report that the latest car is a return to form; it’s more agile than you might expect and doesn’t roll too much if you take a corner quickly.

The downside of that is a slightly firm ride. You’ll notice the imperfections in the road more than you would in a Volkswagen Tiguan, but we didn’t find it uncomfortable and most bumps were absorbed without any fuss. The car can start to feel fidgety at higher speeds but that’s mainly noticeable on rougher surfaces.

We found the steering light but it still has a lot more feel than plenty of other SUVs. The manual gearbox, standard in all but the 187bhp diesel and the plug-in hybrid, is precise and great to use.

Ford Kuga petrol engines

The two 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol engines have been carried over from the old Kuga, but the entry-level 118bhp engine (only offered on Zetec models) is now almost a second quicker from 0-62mph. It still takes 11.6 seconds to hit that threshold, though, and we’d recommend going for the 148bhp version instead. It’s both more economical and quicker, hitting 0-62mph in a much more reasonable 9.7 seconds. Both these engines come with a six-speed manual gearbox and front-wheel drive.

Diesel engines

Also carried over from the old car is a 1.5-litre diesel engine, and it’s the only engine with a choice of manual or automatic gearboxes. Its 118bhp doesn’t feel quite enough to power such a big car, and 0-62mph takes 11.7 seconds for the manual or 12 seconds for the automatic. It’s around a second quicker than the same engine in the Mk2 Kuga, but still a bit pedestrian.

The diesel sweet spot is the 148bhp 2.0-litre engine, which now comes with mild-hybrid technology - improving fuel efficiency and giving the engine welcome extra grunt. It’s the most efficient diesel and its 9.6-second 0-62mph should be sufficient for the majority of buyers. Above that, there’s a 187bhp 2.0-litre engine without the mild-hybrid assistance, which reduces the acceleration time to 8.7 seconds. At present, this only comes with four-wheel drive and an automatic gearbox.

Hybrid engines

The Kuga is available as a normal hybrid (Ford labels it as FHEV) and as a plug-in hybrid (PHEV). Both use a 2.5-litre petrol engine, an electric motor and a battery. The normal hybrid uses engine power to charge the battery, whereas the PHEV can be plugged in, either at home or at a public charger.

In both models, the Kuga will move off in near-silence thanks to the electric motor. Power is instant and delivered smoothly.

Both cars use a CVT gearbox. This is different to a normal automatic as there aren’t any individual gears as such, so when you put your foot down it tends to bring revs up, causing an unpleasant droning noise.

Interior & comfort

Ergonomic if a little unimaginative, the Ford Kuga’s interior shares much with other Fords

The last Kuga was generally quite refined but was a little noisy on the motorway. From our drives so far, it seems that its replacement is better in this regard. The 2.0-litre diesel with mild-hybrid tech sounded a little vocal under hard acceleration but it settles down when cruising.

We found that the bases of the sports seats fitted to our Titanium-spec test car were a little flat for our liking, making them uncomfortable on longer drives. Otherwise, the Kuga features plenty of equipment to take the stress out of the daily commute; lane-keeping assistance, all-round parking sensors, cruise control and hill-start assist all come as standard.

Ford Kuga dashboard

Ford has decided to keep things simple, giving the Kuga the same interior as the Fiesta, Focus and other models. A Peugeot 3008 certainly has more design flair inside, but the Kuga’s interior is simple and intuitive, whether you’re familiar with Ford interiors or not. Besides, the cabin design is a marked improvement over the old Kuga, which was really showing its age having been around since 2012.

An eight-inch touchscreen sits on top of the dashboard, plus a 12.3-inch digital dial display on Titanium models and above. Beneath that is a panel for audio controls, the air vents and the heating controls, with a few extra buttons each side of the gearlever.

The material quality is good in the places where you’ll touch, but there are cheaper, scratchier materials lower down. It all feels well-built, though, so it should stand up to years of family life.

Ford’s SYNC 3 infotainment system is fitted as standard and provides plenty of connectivity. It includes both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, allowing your phone’s apps to be displayed on the screen, plus DAB radio and Bluetooth. Voice control is also part of the package, so you can access the screen’s functions without taking your hands off the wheel or eyes off the road.

Equipment

Buyers have a choice of five trim levels. Zetec is the entry point, and includes luxuries like keyless start, auto lights and wireless phone charging. It also gets sat nav, cruise control and a handy heated windscreen, but you need to step up to Titanium in order to get dual-zone climate control and auto wipers. Titanium also brings LED headlights, keyless entry, a 12.3-inch digital dial display and a premium B&O sound system, too.

ST-Line gets sporty detailing inside and out, plus sports seats and cornering LED fog lights. ST-Line X models can be distinguished by larger alloy wheels and a panoramic sunroof. There’s also heated seats in the front and rear.

The top-spec Vignale model aims to look elegant rather than sporty, and has lots of equipment to offset its high price. You get metallic paint as standard, along with a different grille, leather upholstery and a full set of heated seats.

Options

Once you’ve picked your trim, you can then select from a number of options including a Technology Pack (upgraded headlights and a head-up display - £400), a winter pack (heated front seats and a heated steering wheel - £400) or a tow bar for £625. We’d recommend spending £100 on a space-saver spare wheel instead of the standard-fit tyre repair kit.

Practicality & boot space

The Ford Kuga can compete with the class leaders on practicality

The latest Ford Kuga is bigger in most respects than its predecessor, with a little more space freed up inside. It’s still strictly a five-seater, like many of its rivals, but Ford doesn’t offer a seven-seat SUV in the UK - just the S-MAX, Galaxy and Grand Tourneo Connect MPVs. This seems like a missed opportunity, as the seven-seat Skoda Kodiaq, Peugeot 5008 and Nissan X-Trail SUVs have all proven popular.

Ford Kuga interior space and storage
We expect that the Kuga will be bought by people who have outgrown the Focus or other cars of that size, and it’s usefully more spacious. Adults will have more than enough space to stretch out in the rear seats, and should be comfortable on long journeys.

The glovebox and door pockets are a good size, and there are a couple of other little cubbies and storage areas on the centre console. All cars get an electrical charging point in the back of the front armrest, which will keep your passengers’ phones or tablets powered.

Boot space

The Kuga has handy sliding rear seats, so you can position them to prioritise legroom or boot space. Even when slid all the way back, most Kuga models offer 475 litres of space - 100 litres more than the Focus - and this increases to 526 litres with the seats pulled forward (measured to the parcel shelf). With the rear seats flipped down and out of the way, you’ve got up to 1,534 litres to fill. A Skoda Karoq is slightly more practical, offering 479-588 litres with the seats up and 1,605 litres with them down, but the difference is unlikely to make you rule out the Kuga.

Because of where the battery pack’s placed, the plug-in hybrid models get a slightly smaller boot. Wherever the seats are, the boot is about 50-60 litres smaller than petrol and diesel variants. Compared to some other PHEVs, that’s not a huge drop in luggage capacity.

Towing

If you plan on towing regularly, make sure you pick the right engine, as all have different maximum towing capacities. The 118bhp diesel can tow a braked trailer weighing up to 1,500kg, increasing to 1,600kg (118bhp petrol), 1,800kg (148bhp petrol), 1,900kg (148bhp diesel) and 2,100kg (187bhp diesel). Not all PHEVs can tow, but the Kuga plug-in can manage up to 1,200kg. Speccing a tow bar costs £625.

Reliability & safety

The Ford Kuga has a full five-star safety score but reliability is unknown

Ford Kuga reliability

The Ford Kuga is too new to feature in our 2020 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, but the previous model scored quite well; it placed 44th out of the top 100 cars ranked, and only 8.5% of buyers told us about a fault in the first year of ownership. However, Ford came a meagre 24th out of 30 brands in our manufacturer list. With the new Focus, Puma and Kuga now all on sale, we expect Ford to climb up the rankings in the next couple of years.

Safety

Independent testers Euro NCAP put the Kuga through its paces before it even went on sale, and it passed with flying colours. Receiving a five-star score, the Kuga scored 92% for adult safety, 86% for child safety, 82% for pedestrian protection and 73% for the array of safety kit on board.

Standard safety features include lane-keeping assist, hill-start assist, auto emergency braking and intelligent speed assist. A Driver Assistance pack costs £1,000 and adds kit such as blind-spot monitoring, traffic sign recognition and front and rear cameras.

Source: carbuyer.co.uk

Ford Bronco rumors or reality

Next generation 2021 Ford Bronco

Manufactured and marketed by Ford from 1965. to 1996. the Ford Bronco is a model line of SUVs that were. The first generation of the Bronco was introduced as a competitor to compact SUVs (including the Jeep CJ-5 and International Harvester Scout), the succeeding four generations of the Bronco were full-sized SUVs, competing against Dodge Ramcharger and the Chevrolet K5 Blazer. So, the first Bronco was assembled using its own chassis, while the full-sized Bronco was derived from the Ford F-Series (F-100, later F-150) pickup truck. All Broncos were produced with four-wheel drive engine, as well.

2021 Ford Bronco Release date and performance

Was withdrawn from the Ford light-truck model line following declining demand for two-door SUVs, the Ford Bronco. In the 1997 model year, Ford replaced the Bronco with the Ford Expedition, a four-door SUV based on the F-150. Broncos were produced at Ford's Michigan Truck Plant in Wayne, Michigan, from 1965 to 1996. Ford announced the reintroduction of the Ford Bronco as a mid-sized SUV, in 2017. Derived from the Ford Ranger as a 2021 model. Than manufacturing is to return to Michigan Assembly.

2021 Ford bronco Engine

Based on credible rumors and comments from various Ford higher-ups since the announcement of the 4x4's return, there is quite a lot we know about the Bronco. So, we've compiled all that info here for you. As new information is learned, this story will be continually updated. Published on 2/4/2020. the most recent update was. That its doors and roof are removable, one of the big appeals of the Wrangler are. With the Bronco, which according to Automotive News, will offer a removable hardtop and doors that can be stored in the trunk, as well. The mirrors will be mounted to the A-pillars, and not the doors as on a Wrangler, apparently. You'll still have mirrors when you take the doors off, this means.

The Baby Bronco could carry the Maverick name, suggesting. The parts are listed for a 2020 model year vehicle, interestingly. Bronco sources informed the forum Maverick was the name being used internally for the car, last year. That name will make it to the market has yet to be seen, whether.

So, Ford already has a mid-size pickup on the market, the Ranger, but it might give the Bronco a bed. Than, according rumors that this truck will arrive in 2024 as a competitor to the Jeep Gladiator, a pickup based on the Bronco's closest rival, the Wrangler,too. Ford has made its intent to compete with Jeep quite clear, so it's easy to understand why the Blue Oval would want a Bronco pickup, even if it already has the Ranger in production also.

2022 Ford Explorer

The best selling SUV of the all time is Ford Explorer. To confirm that fact is date that since launching in 1991, nearly 8 million of the Ford Explorers have been sold.

Today, the current model sitting in showrooms remains the top selling three-row SUV on the market -- even though it debuted way back in 2011 and contends with a number of fresher entries.

2022 Ford Explorer exterior and interior

From the exterior point of view, the next-generation Explorer's appearance is best described as an evolution of current model. Up front, there's a new grille shape, light housings and shorter front overhangs for a bit more ground clearance and better approach angle for off-road excursions. From the side, the subtle changes are more noticeable, with a tapering roof-line and more sculpted profile surfaces, but overall the exterior redo is underwhelming and looks like it could've been seen on the road for a couple of years already.

Alterations inside are more apparent with new multi-contour seats, tiered dash design and more spacious accommodations. That's thanks in large part to a 6.3-inch longer wheelbase that Ford says gives the new Explorer best-in-class first- and second-row hip room.

The conclusion is that the exterior of the new Ford Explorer doesn't fall far from the outgoing model.

Cargo capacity is also at the top of the class with 87.8 cubic feet of space available behind the first row seats and offering the ability to carry 4x8 sheets of plywood for the first time. Other available interior niceties include heated and cooled massaging seats up front, individual climate controls in all three rows and a bigger panoramic roof.  

On the tech front, an updated Sync3 system with an 8-inch touchscreen, Wi-Fi hotspot for up to 10 devices. A 10.1-inch portrait touchscreen interface is optional, along with a 14-speaker B&O audio setup. Top Platinum models also benefit from a standard 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, with varying 3D animated graphics depending on which drive mode is selected in Explorers equipped with the Terrain Management System.

To juice up smart devices, the Explorer offers a wireless charge pad up front, up to three 12-volt outlets, two USB-A and two USB-C ports and a 110-volt three-prong outlet.

For safety, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assist and rear cross-traffic alert come on all Explorers, while intelligent adaptive cruise control with traffic sign recognition, reverse brake assist and a 360-degree camera are offered on midlevel trims on up.

Engine options of 2022 Ford Explorer

Base models tip the scale at 4,345 pounds. Standard power now comes from a 2.3-liter turbocharged four with 300 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque, meaning the old 3.5-liter V6 is no more.

The engine gets mated with a 10-speed automatic transmission routing power to rear wheels or to all corners through a rear-biased all-wheel drive system with axle disconnect that's available with a seven-mode Terrain Management System. 

Towing capacity for the four punches in at 5,300 pounds, but fuel economy figures aren't available yet. Ford is simply promising better efficiency and driving range than before.

Those looking for more oomph will want to look at the Platinum model, which packs a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 with 365 horses, a stout 380 pound-feet of torque, all-wheel drive and 5,600-pound tow capacity. As for other drivetrain offerings, a hybrid and performace for ST model are confirmed to be on the way.

2022 Ford Explorer price and release date

Sales of the 2022 Ford Explorer will begin in summer 2021 with a $33,860 base price representing a $400 increase over the previous model. The lineup will include the base Explorer, XLT, Limited, Limited Hybrid, ST and Platinum trims.

Future Cars: 2023 Cadillac Lyriq, Celestiq Bring American Luxury to EVs

The Lyriq electric SUV and Celestiq electric sedan are central to Cadillac’s EV charge.

The Lyriq will be followed by the Celestiq, a limolike four-door sedan that will take over as Cadillac's flagship. The interior is intended to coddle chauffeur-driven passengers in the second row under a transparent, four-quadrant glass roof. Up front, a large dashboard screen stretches the width of the cabin. It will feature all-wheel drive, a hatchback cargo opening, and four-wheel steering.

WHY IT MATTERS: General Motors wants Cadillac to lead its EV push, so every one of the brand's new models moving forward will be electric. That starts with the Lyriq, followed by the Celestiq sedan, the Optiq and Symboliq SUVs, another sedan/coupe, and an electric version of the Escalade full-size SUV. The Lyriq sets the styling tone for the lineup.

2023 Cadillac Lyriq 8 

PLATFORM AND POWERTRAIN: The Cadillac Lyriq will use the same BEV3 architecture and Ultium battery system as the 2022 GMC Hummer EV pickup. The battery cells are packaged as modules to allow the creation of vehicles of any size or shape. GM is building a new Ultium battery plant in Tennessee to supply the Lyriq, which uses a 12-module, 100-kWh pack versus the Hummer's 24 modules. Future electric SUVs for the Chevrolet and Buick brands will share a similar layout. The Celestiq is more of a one-off vehicle and a surprise addition to the portfolio. It will have at least two motors, and the long body provides a lot of underfloor space for energy storage. It will be able to fast-charge at 800 volts and likely provide at least 300 miles of range per charge.

ESTIMATED PRICE: The Lyriq starts at $59,990, and the Celestiq is expected to command at least $200,000.

EXPECTED ON-SALE DATE: Lyriq, Q1 2022; Celestiq, as early as 2023.

(motortrend.com)

Buick Encore GX 1.3T FWD First Drive: Reasonable Doubt

Buick gives the Encore a little blue pill.

If Jay-Z was seeking a Buick when he asked for an "encore" in his 2003 song of the same name, then the legendary Brooklyn-born rapper is in luck, because the American brand now sells two Encores: the subcompact Encore and the larger, but not quite compact, Encore GX. Yet despite the SUVs' shared monikers, the Encore GX is neither a trim nor a mechanical relative of the Encore.

Instead, the 2021 Buick Encore GX forgoes its smaller sibling's aging underpinnings and four-cylinder engine for a newer General Motors platform and a pair of available three-cylinder engines. (Chevrolet also employs these mechanical pieces in its Trailblazer SUV.) A 137-hp turbocharged 1.2-liter I-3 comes standard across the board, but a more powerful 155-hp turbocharged 1.3-liter three-cylinder is available as a $395 option on Encore GX Select and Essence trims.

Weight A Minute
Regardless of engine, all Encore GX FWD models rely on a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) to serve as the middleman between the engine and drive wheels. Buick also fits the bigger engine under the hood of any Encore GX equipped with the optional ($2,000) all-wheel-drive system. Going the AWD route sidelines the CVT in favor of a nine-speed automatic transmission, but also adds around 180 pounds to the SUV's curb weight relative to its 1.3-liter-equipped FWD counterpart (which itself weighs about 40 pounds more than the equivalent 1.2-liter Encore GX).

With less mass to lug around and a responsive CVT, the Encore GX 1.3T FWD feels far livelier than its AWD kin. Although we were not able to bring this two-wheel-drive Buick to the track, we feel confident the less portly Encore GX FWD ought to cut a few ticks from the 9.3-second trot to 60 mph and 17.0-second run through the quarter mile we recorded from an Encore GX AWD.

 Still, we hesitate to call Buick's second-smallest SUV quick. Pinning the right pedal to pass slow-moving traffic at highway speed remains a rather tedious affair, which the CVT exacerbates by racing the I-3 toward its redline and causing a lot of noise without much thrust.

The powertrain performs more favorably around town, as the transmission works with the larger engine's peak 174 lb-ft of torque—available at a low 1,600 rpm—to spur the nearly 3,100-pound Encore GX forward from stop signs and stop lights with reasonable gusto and minimal droning (provided the CVT keeps the crankshaft spinning at less than 3,000 revs). In fact, the 171.4-inch-long Buick feels particularly adept in urban environments as its electric-assist steering's quick ratio and low effort make it easy to maneuver through narrow city streets and crowded parking garages.

Rough Rider
If only the Encore GX's ride quality lived up to its Buick badge. Alas, the Encore GX's suspension tuning feels more befitting of a compact sports car than a near-luxury SUV. Instead of insulating its passengers from bumps in the road, the Encore GX seems to amplify every abrasion marking the tarmac. The stiff suspension setup makes riding in this Buick as uncomfortable as sharing an elevator with Hova and Solange Knowles at a 2014 Met Gala afterparty.

Add the $650 Sport Touring package and the Encore GX at least looks a little more the part of a hot hatchback, as the purely cosmetic kit adds body-color lower trim pieces, more aggressive front and rear fascias, red accents on the grille, special badging, and package-specific 18-inch wheels. The items add some extra flair to the tall and stubby Encore GX while also enhancing some of the SUV's more attractive design details, including its rear fender haunches and the upper window trim that gracefully merges with the rear hatch.

The Blueprint
Strangely, the Sport Touring package does not touch the Encore GX's interior. There is no special badging, sporty trim, or paddle shifters (there is a shifter-mounted rocker switch that affords control of seven ratios, though). The cabin is standard Encore GX, which is a generally inoffensive place, save for some chintzy faux stitching and mid-grade piano black plastic pieces on the dashboard and center console. Sure, a Mazda CX-30 both looks and feels richer, but the Encore GX's insides are certainly built to a reasonably high standard with materials that are—for the most part—unobjectionable.

The space benefits from an ergonomic design courtesy of its simple climate controls, intuitive and clear gauge cluster display, and high-mounted 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, which comes standard with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Additionally, a tall seating position offers a commanding view of the road ahead. Buick carves out plenty of space under the front seats for rear passengers to place their feet, and as a result, the Encore GX's rear bench feels more spacious than its 36.0 inches of legroom suggests. That middling figure falls short of competitors such as the Jeep Compass and Kia Seltos, which offer 38.3 and 38.0 inches of stretch-out space, respectively.

The Encore GX's cargo bay offers just 23.5 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats and 50.2 cubes with the 60/40-split seatbacks folded, sums that fall short of the Compass and Seltos by between 3.1 and 12.6 cubic feet. But the little Buick at least makes the most of its usable space by incorporating features such as a reconfigurable cargo floor and a flat-folding front passenger seat.

Dead Presidents
Nor is the Encore GX a value leader, as the model's $25,395 starting sum tops that of compact SUVs such as the $24,995 Chevrolet Equinox. Opt for the Buick's bigger 1.3T engine and the Encore GX's base price swells to $27,390, though that figure includes features missing from the base model such as heated front seats, a power driver's seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a blind-spot monitoring system. The mechanically similar $26,255 Chevrolet Trailblazer 1.3T, meanwhile, undercuts its Buick-badged cousin by $1,135.

Start adding items such as an in-dash navigation system, adaptive cruise control, a surround-view camera, and a head-up display, and the cost of the Encore GX 1.3T quickly balloons past $30,000. This is a hard pill to swallow considering a similarly equipped Trailblazer rings up for thousands of dollars less, and a top-of-the-line 175-hp Kia Seltos with AWD barely breaks $30,000.

We were never really sure we wanted a follow-up to the original Encore, let alone a second Encore model. The 2021 Encore GX 1.3T FWD improves upon the blueprint of its smaller and similarly named stablemate, even if this latest addition to the Encore family would be more deserving of an ovation if Buick improved the model's ride quality and value proposition.

(motortrend.com)

Buick Envision Review: Premium Value

The verdict: The redesigned 2021 Buick Envision premium compact SUV is stylish and refined, and has easy-to-use tech features, but poor brake-pedal feel degrades the driving experience.

Versus the competition: Sized like a compact SUV but priced below subcompact luxury models, the 2021 Envision gives shoppers who aren’t concerned with having a traditional luxury badge a lot of value for their money.

The 2021 Buick Envision newly shares its platform with the Cadillac XT4 compact luxury SUV, and it’s wider, lower and slightly shorter than the model it replaces. Despite the redesign, it remains one of the few vehicles sold in the U.S. that’s built in China.

The 2021 Envision is also less expensive than its predecessor; a base Preferred trim level with front-wheel drive starts at $32,995 (including a $1,195 destination charge), which is $1,700 less than the starting price of the 2020 Envision. Our test vehicle was a mid-level Essence trim with front-wheel drive, and its as-tested price of $41,315 included a $2,500 Technology Package and a $1,325 Sport Touring Package, the latter featuring black exterior accents and 20-inch aluminum wheels. All-wheel drive is available on any trim for an extra $1,800.

How It Drives
All Envisions are powered by a 228-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that works with a standard nine-speed automatic transmission. The engine is smooth, refined and delivers adequate acceleration, and it produces a bit of a growl when you really step on the gas pedal. With nine forward gears, the automatic makes frequent upshifts when accelerating from a stop. The shifts are smooth, but there’s a short pause between gear changes. Part- and full-throttle kickdowns, however, happen without delay.

The SUV steers with a light touch, and the suspension deals swiftly with impacts from broken pavement. Body motions are well controlled overall, but the suspension tuning is on the firm side. This was especially noticeable on one stretch of road with small buckles in the asphalt, one after the other, that resulted in a choppy ride. Our test vehicle’s 20-inch wheels and low-profile tires likely didn’t help matters, and it’s possible the standard 18-inch wheels with taller-sidewall tires offer more comfort. Ditto for the top Avenir trim level’s available adaptive suspension, though experience has revealed that advanced suspensions don’t always compensate for large wheels.

The Envision’s brake-pedal feel was disappointing on a number of fronts. Pedal feel is numb, and it suffers from poor linearity on top of that. We’ve experienced this unpleasant combination in certain gas-electric hybrids, but it’s less common in conventionally powered vehicles like the Envision. Like many hybrids and a growing number of conventional vehicles, however, the Envision has a brake-by-wire system with electric assist rather than traditional vacuum-assisted power brakes. (We reported similarly disappointing braking feel in our review of the XT4, the Envision’s platform mate.)

The front-drive Envision is EPA-rated at 24/31/26 mpg city/highway/combined, while all-wheel-drive versions are rated 22/29/25 mpg. More powerful compact luxury SUVs like the Acura RDX and Lincoln Corsair get slightly worse estimated gas mileage, but the smaller BMW X1 has slightly better ratings (see fuel economy estimates for front- and all-wheel-drive versions of these SUVs).

The Interior
Interior quality is good overall with soft-touch surfaces closer to eye level and hard plastic near your feet. Our test vehicle’s all-black color scheme, however, looked a bit dour to my eyes. A beige interior is also offered.

Frequently used controls are within easy reach of the driver, and the center of the dash is dominated by the optional 10.2-inch touchscreen (an 8-inch touchscreen is standard in the Preferred trim). The big screen is responsive, has an intuitive interface and looks great. There are also handy volume and tuning knobs to the left of the screen.

Both touchscreen systems include wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, but only the Avenir trim includes wireless device charging. Connecting my iPhone to the multimedia system was easy, and the wireless CarPlay connection seemed just as responsive as the more common wired setup.

One of the more unique elements of the interior is the gear selector, which consists of a column of buttons and pull switches that go where a conventional shifter channel otherwise would. It didn’t take long to get accustomed to the system, but the design doesn’t result in any additional storage space on top of the front center console; there’s a small forward bin, two cupholders to the right of the shifter and a storage bin under the front center armrest. The design does, however, eliminate the obstruction a lever would represent, and its electronic nature allows for an open lower storage area below the console.

The Envision’s front bucket seats are comfortable, and they’re finished in cloth and simulated leather (Preferred) or perforated real leather (Essence and Avenir). The seats have modest side bolsters that don’t hold you in place when taking a corner quickly, however.

There’s surprisingly good rear-seat space for adult passengers. The bench seat is comfortable and there’s good headroom. The standard 60/40-split backrest folds flat with the cargo floor, extending the luggage area, but the seatback doesn’t recline.

Safety
Neither the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety nor the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had crash-tested the 2021 Buick Envision as of publication. The list of standard active-safety features includes forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, blind spot warning with rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping assist and automatic high-beam headlights. A head-up display, 360-degree camera system and adaptive cruise control are optional.

Value in Its Class
The Envision doesn’t fit neatly into the mainstream or luxury compact SUV classes, but to hear Buick tell it, that’s an opportunity. Rob Peterson, the brand’s marketing manager, said Buick serves shoppers moving up from mainstream brands and has both the Envision and the smaller and less expensive Encore GX to offer small SUV shoppers.

There are still some mainstream elements like cloth upholstery and manual air conditioning in base Envisions, but the mid-level Essence trim swaps them and more for upscale amenities without significantly ballooning the price tag. It’s a value recipe that seems right for the times.

cars.com

BMW

The BMW X8 is coming: giant flagship SUV aims for sleeker look

Flagship 2022 BMW X8 will rival premium large SUV models including the Range Rover and Mercedes GLS

The forthcoming BMW X8 SUV has been spotted undergoing track testing ahead of its reveal in 2022. When it arrives, the X8 will sit at the top of the brand’s SUV line-up as a sleeker alternative to the X7, rivalling the Range Rover Sport, Mercedes GLS and the Bentley Bentayga.

BMW has already trademarked both the ‘X8’ and ‘X8 M’ names, suggesting the new car could be joined by a flagship M Division model alongside regular versions. It’s also thought a plug-in hybrid version could also be added to the X8 line-up. As a range-topping model, we’re expecting the price tag for the X8 to start from over £100,000.

2022 BMW X8 SUV: dimensions, design and platform

The new X8 share’s its platform with the X7 SUV, so is likely to be very similar in size. However, like the BMW X2, X4 and X6, the X8 looks like it’ll be a sleeker version of the standard SUV on which it’s based. It’ll be as wide as the X7 but with a lower roofline tapering towards the rear windscreen. It’s likely to have a sportier focus than the X7, sacrificing some rear headroom and boot space for less boxy styling.

These latest spy shots give a clear look at the design of the new car, and its nose features a large pair of BMW's signature kidney grilles, along with a new split-level headlight design. The car’s wheelarches appear to be more prominent, with the side-profile boasting a sleeker roofline with a small rear spoiler. At the rear, there appears to be a sharply angled tailgate and an angular rear bumper housing two large exhaust tips.

Engines and performance

BMW has filed several X8 trademarks in the last few years but the filing of ‘X8 M’ is the first hint that a performance version is also in the pipeline. It may use the 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 engine already employed in the BMW X5 M and M8, or a hybrid powertrain could be an alternative to make the X8 M even more powerful than these cars.

Previously, we spotted a development mule sporting ‘hybrid test vehicle’ stickers on it, so some form of electrification is almost guaranteed. We expect that BMW will offer the same plug-in hybrid powertrain as you get in the BMW X5 xDrive45e and 545e, which offers an impressive 50-mile electric range and a sub-six-second 0-62mph time.

Interior, technology and safety

While no details of the new car’s interior have been revealed yet, it’s likely the dashboard and interior of the X8 will be near-identical looking to the X7. It’ll also get the same technology, including an infotainment screen and a digital dial cluster measuring in at 12.3-inches each. BMW’s latest iDrive 8 operating system will also feature, along with safety technology such as a head-up-display, surround-view cameras and an array of driver assistance systems. Unlike coupe-SUV models such as the Audi Q8, which is only available with five seats, the X8 could retain the seven seat layout from it's X7 sibling thanks to it’s more upright roofline.

(carbuyer.co.uk)

BMW

BMW iX3 SUV review

"The BMW iX3 is an electric variant of the popular X3 with a 285-mile range"

While BMW wowed the world with its i3 electric hatchback and i8 plug-in hybrid coupe, the all-electric BMW iX3 SUV is altogether a more staid proposition. This time round BMW is taking a similar approach to Peugeot and Hyundai by serving up an electric version of a car it already sells, namely the BMW X3.

There's been a deliberate decision not to go radical with the design, with BMW instead opting to add aerodynamic wheels, blue trim accents and a smoothed-off grille. There are also a new set of bumpers and side skirts, all tested to ensure they are slippery enough to help maximise the driving range. This is really just an X3 for buyers who want an electric powertrain.

Best electric SUVs

Under the car's floor is an 80kWh battery that sends its power to a rear-mounted 282bhp electric motor. This is a departure from rivals like the Audi e-tron, Jaguar I-Pace and Mercedes EQC, which all have two motors, four wheel drive and quite a bit more power. While it isn't as fast as them, the iX3's 285-mile range is competitive, beating both its German rivals and just slightly behind the I-Pace. The Jag’ struggles to hit its official figure in real-world driving anyway.

It can also be charged quickly, obtaining speeds of up to 150kW at the latest rapid-charging stations. Of its closest rivals, only the e-tron can match this, with the others topping out at around 100kW, and it means the iX3 battery can be replenished to 80% in a speedy 34 minutes. Thanks to this capability, making one stop on a long journey should be ample to get drivers to their destination with range to spare.

Like the exterior, the inside of the iX3 is very much a mild variation on the X3, with some flashes of blue trim to show this is the electric version. It shares the same 10.25-inch iDrive infotainment display perched above the dashboard and a 12.3-inch digital instrument screen. Premier Edition and Premier Edition Pro trims serve up plenty of equipment, with features like a head-up display, a Harman Kardon stereo and wireless phone charging in the top trim.

The BMW iX3 is spacious, quiet and has a good range, but it's a shame it doesn't feel anywhere near as special as the i3 and i8. Instead, it ushers in an era when electric BMWs will be a more mass-market part of the line-up.

By adding an EV option to its popular X3 range, BMW boasts that customers can now choose between four different powertrains for its mid-size SUV. It adds to the existing petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid range, giving low to medium-mileage drivers the chance to shun traditional fossil fuels altogether.

BMW iX3 MPG & CO2

The iX3 has an 80kWh battery beneath its floor, allowing it to cover up to 285 miles on a charge. That's competitive with the 298-mile range of the Jaguar I-Pace, and betters the 237 and 256-mile range of the Audi e-tron and Mercedes EQC respectively.

Like the e-tron, the iX3 also supports rapid 150kW charging at compatible public locations, topping the battery up to 80% in just 34 minutes. The Mercedes and Jaguar can be topped up at around 100kW, so take longer to recharge.

As with any electric vehicle, the iX3 has the potential to significantly reduce running costs for the owner, and we particularly enjoyed one new feature for its energy recuperation system. Like most new EVs, the braking effect of the electric motor can be set to low, medium or high, and with practice it's possible to drive the iX3 in traffic with almost no use of the brakes. However, BMW has also added an ‘Adaptive’ setting, which automatically adjusts the recuperation to match the car ahead, a bit like adaptive cruise control for braking alone. It works well, carefully adjusting the regenerative effect to match cars in front, even when they modulate their deceleration.

Thanks to its zero emissions, the iX3 qualifies for free car tax and 0% BiK for company-car drivers in 2020/21.

Insurance groups
The insurance band for the iX3 hasn't been announced yet but it's likely to be fairly high. We say this because its rivals are all costly to insure, with the I-Pace in group 49 out of 50 and the Audi e-tron in the very top group. However, the iX3 is the least powerful of the group, so could be a few groups lower.

Warranty
BMW sells all its cars with a three-year/unlimited mileage warranty, which is on a par with Mercedes and slightly more generous than Audi (with a 60,000-mile cap). Tesla models come with a four-year or 50,000-mile warranty. It's likely the BMW iX3 will have a longer warranty covering its battery (many rivals offer eight years of cover), but details of this have yet to be announced.

Servicing
BMW models are fitted with an array of sensors to determine when servicing is required, so there isn't a strict routine to stick to. Typically, services won't be more than two years or 20,000 miles apart, and isn't the cheapest. BMW does offer servicing packages though, making it possible to spread the cost over monthly payments.

Unlike its rivals, the iX3 gets a single electric motor powering the rear wheels. This means it isn't as quick as the dual-motor Jaguar I-Pace in a straight line, but it still gets a sporty setup in typical BMW fashion.

In fact, it would have been better if BMW had made the suspension softer because in its pursuit of agile, fun handling, ride comfort has been compromised. Even in the softest Comfort mode, the iX3 fidgets and seems to find bumps in the road that look inconsequential from behind the wheel.

This chassis setup and the low-slung battery does at least mean the iX3 corners with little body lean, while the steering is fast to respond, if lacking in feel. Sport mode makes the steering heavier but also renders the suspension too bouncy, so we quickly turned it off.

BMW iX3 electric motor

The iX3 is powered by a single 282bhp electric motor at the rear axle, giving it a 0-62mph acceleration time of 6.8 seconds. This should be plenty quick enough for most SUV (and EV) buyers, but it's some way off rivals. The Audi e-tron, Jaguar I-Pace and Mercedes EQC all feature front and rear motors, providing more power and four-wheel drive.

The iX3 accelerates very quietly, with just a distant whine from its electric motor. If you prefer, you can also choose a louder sound thanks to 'balanced' and 'sporty' settings. The iX3 glides away from a standstill smoothly, with instant pulling power doing a good job of disguising its 2,185kg weight.

Interior & comfort

Unlike the daring BMW i3 and i8 models that set out BMW's stall as a designer of forward-thinking green models, the iX3 is a much more conventional model that's also available with electric propulsion. This will make sense for many customers, while others may view it as a bit of a disappointment.

If you've sat in a BMW X3, there's very little change here apart from some blue flashes of colour for the BMW badge and gearlever. The steering wheel with silver buttons is new, while a 10.25-inch infotainment display and 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster is carried over, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Materials are of a high quality and the infotainment software is amongst the best in the business, but there aren't any novel features like trim made from recycled bottles or cork, as seen in many environmentally conscious models.

Equipment
The first versions of iX3 will be called Premier Edition and Premier Edition Pro, with four exterior colours offered, along with two choices of exterior trim colour: aluminium or gloss black. Standard kit includes wireless smartphone charging, heated front seats and Driving Assistant Professional.

Premier Edition Pro is distinguished by large 20-inch aerodynamic alloy wheels, along with a powered tailgate, adaptive suspension and a panoramic sunroof. It also boasts a plethora of tech like a head-up display, Harmon Kardon stereo, gesture recognition and a BMW IconicSounds Electric soundtrack developed with famous composer Hans Zimmer.

If there are concerns the iX3 is compromised compared with the regular model, fear not. It's virtually as usable for a family of five as the petrol or diesel car, and the boot is actually larger than the one in the plug-in hybrid BMW X3.

BMW X3 interior space & storage

There's plenty of space for adults in the front and back of the iX3 to stretch out, with the battery placed out of the way beneath the car's floor. In reality, most won't need the extra space found in the larger BMW X5 but there's no option of a third row of seats to make the iX3 into a seven seater.

Boot space
The iX3 has a 510-litre boot, which is 40 litres smaller than the petrol and diesel BMW X3 offer. In reality, most will be hard pressed to tell the difference, and surprisingly this is 60 litres more than the plug-in hybrid version of the X3 offers. The electric motor and transmission featured here is actually more compact than in the PHEV, so takes up less space.

Source: carbuyer.co.uk

BMW

BMW X3 xDrive30e First Test: Worth Every Penny?

Not the fastest or most efficient, but its cost could pencil out.

Usually when you face a choice between a conventional gas or plug-in hybrid SUV or car, the PHEV struggles to save enough fuel to offset the cost of the battery, motor, and all that extra copper. For some drivers, the BMW X3 xDrive30e might just pencil out. But will it kill your soul while doing so?

How The BMW X3 XDrive30e Plug-In Hybrid SUV Can Pay For Itself

Changing the "i" at the end of that model designation to an "e" costs $4,600. For that, you get a 107-hp/77-lb-ft electric motor sandwiched between your engine and transmission, which boosts the 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4 engine's output to 288 hp and 310 lb-ft. (In the xDrive30i it makes 248 hp and 258 lb-ft.) You also get a hefty 12-kWh battery pack capable of propelling the X3 on battery power alone for an EPA-rated 17 miles. When driving in that mode, the EPA rates it at an impressive 59/61/60 mpg-e on its city/highway/combined cycles, but the added weight of all this equipment (782 pounds on our scales) means that when that battery gets depleted, it gets the same fuel economy as the six-cylinder X3 M40i (21/27/24 mpg).

Here's how you can make the X3 xDrive30e pencil out in terms of fuel costs alone, using the five-year, 15,000-miles-per-year (41 per day) ownership model our partners at IntelliChoice developed. First, you need to plug in every night and drive at least 17 electric miles every day. Doing that, using national average costs for electricity and premium fuel of 13.19 cents/kWh and $3.08/gallon, the 17 daily miles add up to $2,292 over five years, and the remaining 24 miles/day will cost $5,808, for a total of $8,100—$783 less than IntelliChoice's $8,883 fuel cost for the X3 xDrive30i, and nowhere near our $4,600 target. But suppose you commute 17 miles each way to a generous, planet-loving employer offering free EV charging*? Now 34 miles per weekday (plus 17 daily miles on the weekends) costs your household that same $2,292, while the remaining 4,392 miles are gas only, costing $2,900, for a total of $5,192—a fuel savings of $3,691 relative to the xDrive30i. That's 80 percent of the cost difference. Drive it another year or two and you're there—less, if IntelliChoice finds the depreciation to be less for the PHEV model (full cost of ownership data is incomplete for this model).

This electrified SUV is "massive," but it's a low, road-hugging, rear-biased (43/57 front/rear percent) mass. The added electrification nearly maintains the xDrive30i's weight-to-power ratio (17.4 lb/hp versus the gasser's 17.1), but because of the electric motor's strong low-end torque (its peak lasts from 0-3,170 rpm), it accelerates considerably quicker. The 60-mph dash takes just 5.4 seconds en route to a 14.5-second, 98.1-mph quarter mile. That roughly lands the xDrive30e neatly between the non-electrified four and six-cylinder X3s. The xDrive30i's stats are 6.3 seconds and 14.8 at 92.6; the M40i's are 4.8 and 13.4 at 103.7. This result is particularly remarkable given that the hybrid's GA8P75HZ transmission features unique gearing that pencils out slightly taller (more efficiency minded) than the shared gearing of the gas models.

As with most BMWs, fiddling with the drive modes alters the mood of the vehicle substantially. Naturally, there's a fully electric mode that allows fuel-free motoring up to 84 mph; a hybrid mode can remain fully electric to 68 mph, while the EcoPro, adaptive, and sport modes ratchet up the driving fun as in the X3's sisterships.

Is The X3 XDrive30e Any Fun To Drive?

Our test sample was kitted out for peak driving fun, with the M Sport 2 and Dynamic Handling packages and shod in 20-inch Pirelli P Zero summer run-flat tires. As such, it smokes the braking and lateral-g performance of our last X3 xDrive30i (on 19-inch Bridgestone Dueler H/P Sport all-season tires). It out-brakes our long-term M40i, doing 60­­-0 mph in 110 versus 112 feet, and even manages a bit more max-lateral grip (0.89 to 0.84 g), and that one wore 21-inch Bridgestone Alenza summer tires. Had we been able to perform our figure-eight test in Michigan, it surely would have logged a low-26-second lap. So yes, there is typical car enthusiast fun to be had at the helm. There's also geek-fun to be had paging through the many performance- and economy-oriented screens and displays available in the cluster, the central screen, and the head-up display.

How Does The BMW X3 XDrive30e Compare With Its Rivals?

Sadly, we have no official experience with this X3's obvious plug-in competitors—the similarly sized Audi Q5 55 TFSI e and the Mercedes-Benz GLC 350e—so we're ill-equipped to compare them. The Audi and BMW are rated to tow 4,400 pounds, and the Mercedes can only manage 3,600 if that helps in the elimination process. Otherwise, on paper these two competitors cost more to start with—$52,995 for the Audi and $52,895 for the Benz compared to $49,545 for this X3—but their extra cost buys extra output and economy. Their electrified 2.0-liter drivetrains make more power and torque—362 hp/369 lb-ft for the Audi and 320 hp and 413 lb-ft for the Mercedes—so odds are they'll be quicker. They also get higher EPA ratings: 64/66/65 mpg-e (25/29/27 mpg on gas only) for the Audi and 67/70/68 mpg-e (23/28/25 mpg, gas) for the Mercedes. Those cars boast 2-4 additional miles of electric range, too. Of course, the premium you pay for the PHEV hardware is also steeper, so making the saved fuel costs pay off the premium might require an unreasonable amount of mooched electricity.

Source: motortrend.com

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