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Writing chap, mainly about motoring and related matters. Other writing styles are available.

NEWS ➤ Suzuki on hybrid model offensive

2020 Suzuki Vitara Hybrid

A new K14D 1.4-litre BoosterJet petrol engine coming in the Spring, plus the Swift Sport, Vitara and S-Cross models get the new hybrid powertrain.

In continuing plans to further reduce CO2 emissions and improve fuel economy across its range of vehicles, Suzuki UK will introduce three 48-volt self-charging hybrid derivatives to its range next Spring, which will also include the introduction of its new K14D BoosterJet petrol engine.

The new hybrid setup will board the Swift Sport, Vitara and S-Cross models and offer up to 20% lower CO2 emissions, a greater level of torque and 15% overall improvement in (WLTP Combined) fuel consumption. These models will directly replace the current 1.4-litre BoosterJet derivatives with manual transmission.

2020 Suzuki Swift Sport hybrid

Similar in basic principle to their own 12v Hybrid SHVS system pioneered by Suzuki in 2016 and fitted to all manual transmission models in the Ignis range and Swift SZ5 models, the newly developed 48v hybrid powertrain remains is lightweight in design and the components add less than 15kg to the overall weight of the vehicle.

The new and higher-powered Suzuki SHVS system consists of a 48v lithium-ion battery, integrated starter generator (known as ISG) and 48v-12v (DC/DC) converter to power components requiring lower voltage including lights, audio and air conditioning. The ISG acts as both a generator and starter motor, is belt driven and assists the petrol engine during vehicle take off for a higher level of torque with 235Nm available from 2,000rpm.

2020 Suzuki S-Cross hybrid

The lithium-ion battery stores electrical energy recovered from deceleration and braking and incorporates an idle/stop function operated via the ISG. The battery, along with the DC/DC convertor unit, is located under the front seats to assist overall weight distribution.

A further benefit of the new 48v hybrid system is the introduction of electric motor idling when the clutch is disengaged and the engine speed is approximately 1,000rpm. This feature essentially replaces fuel injection with power from the electric motor to then control and maintain engine idling at vehicle speeds below 10mph and when stationary.

This function therefore eliminates fuel consumption under these conditions as engine momentum is electrically controlled by the ISG unit and the car is ready to re-accelerate on request with no engine restart delay.

More details along with full specs of the three new hybrid models will be announced in advance of the media and public launch scheduled for March 2020 – WG.

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Posted by on December 16, 2019 in News


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DRIVEN ➤ 2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

By Wayne Gorrett

2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

‘From the ground, up’, ‘new’, ‘all-new’, ‘completely redesigned’, etc. These are terms you’ll hear often in the automotive industry.

2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

In the case of this fifth generation Toyota RAV4, I would have to tick the ‘all of the above’ box. Aside from the chalk-and-cheese visual differences, all the mechanical underpinnings replace those that had been around on previous RAV4 iterations for thirteen years.

2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

The new RAV4 debuted in March 2018 at the New York auto show. It is based on the front-wheel-drive Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA-K) platform, which is also shared with the eighth generation Camry, the current Prius and CH-R, along with the seventh generation Lexus ES.

I recently spent a week with ‘YXR’, a front wheel-drive 2.5-litre Hybrid, presented in second-tier Design trim and finished in vivid ‘Cyan Splash’. More a drenching, perhaps.

2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid


With hints of the bold Toyota C-HR crossover and sporting a more sculpted, chiselled look that could well have derived from a Lexus drawing board, the new Toyota RAV4 SUV is certainly more distinctive than its predecessor.

The car has better proportions than it used to – it has a longer wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear wheels) but is shorter overall by 11mm. Not only is it as far removed from being ‘librarian’ as could possibly be, it now squares up to strong rivals in the family SUV market such as the VW Tiguan, Renault Kadjar, Nissan X-Trail and Peugeot 5008.

2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

The inside story

The first impression you get when climbing into the new RAV4 is one of improved quality. Less daring than the outside, the interior is laid out simply and sensibly and you get swathes of soft plastics across the dashboard and doors, and plenty of aluminium-effect trims on the steering wheel, door handles, around the air vents and centre console.

2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

There are a few hard, more durable plastics on the grab handles, around the glovebox and below the central armrest, but on the whole the RAV4’s cabin feels pretty plush and suitably solid. The chunky and intuitive HVAC knobs are easy to use too, but oddly the heated seat switches are tucked away under the dashboard almost as an afterthought.

Every Toyota RAV4 comes with an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system as standard. The screen is bright and relatively easy to read in direct sunlight, but the menu screens need more than a cursory glance.

2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Navigation is standard in all but entry-level Icon models. It’s relatively easy to input an address and add a waypoint, but the maps themselves aren’t particularly clear.

Unfortunately, you can’t mirror your phone’s navigation apps because no model in the new RAV4 range facilitates Android Auto or Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring – at least for now. You can still use the standard Bluetooth connection to play music from your phone through the car’s stereo, though.

2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

The Toyota wins for practicality, with a powered tailgate standard on the Design trim and above, revealing a sizeable 580-litre boot. A stretched interior also means adults will be able to travel more comfortably in the back. Toyota hasn’t squeezed a superfluous third row into the new RAV4 either as there is no seven-seat option in the new line-up. Sensible, actually.

Boot space

Its boot has expanded by 79 litres to 580, with 1,690 litres of luggage area available when row two is folded down. That should be plenty of space for families and those figures compare well with the 497 litres available in the Honda CR-V hybrid. However, non-hybrid models like the Skoda Kodiaq and SEAT Tarraco offer more space and the option of seven seats for similar money.

2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Trim grades and equipment

Icon, Design, Dynamic and Excel trim levels are available, with even the entry-level Icon model getting 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, rear parking sensors, the eight-inch infotainment display, rear-view camera and DAB radio. Design adds 18-inch wheels, keyless entry, a powered tailgate, front parking sensors and sat nav.

Based on the Design trim, Dynamic models give the RAV4 a sporty look with its black wheels, a black headlining and heated front sports seats. Convenience is also boosted with blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic warnings, folding door mirrors and a powered driver’s seat.

2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

The range-topping Excel adds a heated steering wheel, leather upholstery, headlight washers and windscreen wiper de-icers.

Engine and transmission

For the UK market, Toyota offers just the one powertrain – a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine paired with an electric motor. The combination offers 215hp in 2WD models, or 219hp in AWD versions. Because this car is hybrid only, no manual gearbox is available. Instead, there’s a CVT automatic with CO2 emissions ranging from 102 to 105g/km, which should certainly get the attention of business car drivers.

2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

The RAV4 is a regular, self-charging hybrid, not one of those plug-in-and-charge-up PHEVs. While it’s great for convenience, you can’t go very far on pure electric power. Even with the EV (electric-only) mode selected, you’ll not get further than a few hundred metres before the hybrid system kicks the petrol engine back in to take over propulsion duties.

To be honest, you’re better off leaving the RAV4 in its ‘normal’ driving mode and let the system decide when’s best to deploy the electric motor and petrol engine. This generally means electric power alone in stop-start traffic and a combination of both power sources at higher speeds.

2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

On the road

Being the nature of high-riding SUVs, the elevated driving position of the Toyota RAV4 affords a good view out over traffic ahead and hedgerows to the side. The A-pillars are relatively thin and the side windows are nice and large so it’s surprisingly easy to manoeuvre through city traffic.

The steering isn’t particularly heavy and every model gets rear parking sensors and a reversing camera to help make parking relatively stress-free. Pick a Design model or above and you also get front parking sensors.

The RAV4 does a good job smoothing out bumps and potholes around town and exhibits little lean on faster country roads. The direct steering makes it easy to accurately carve from one corner to another. All-in-all, the Toyota RAV4 drives pretty well for such an upright family SUV.

2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Settle into an inter-city motorway journey and you’ll find things stay calm and relaxed. The large angular door mirrors produce a slight whistle at speed depending on wind direction, but you won’t hear much noise from the goings on underneath.

During the week’s test, I drove ‘YXR’ a total of 506 miles over a variety of M, A and B roads. Most of that distance was under cruise control, my extensive use of which is always subject to local conditions and speed limits.

2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Toyota claims the hybrid combination of petrol and electric power lets the RAV4 return up to 51mpg. However, during the week I achieved a non-too-shabby 52mpg, with no deliberate attempt at frugality.


When crash-tested by Euro NCAP early in 2019, the new Toyota RAV4 was awarded a full five stars for safety, scoring 93 per cent for adult occupants and 87 per cent for child occupants.

2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

It comes with plenty of driver assistance systems as standard, too, such as adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist and road-sign recognition. You also get automatic emergency braking to help prevent avoidable collisions with other cars, pedestrians and even cyclists.


The 2019 Toyota RAV4 offers considerably more substance than the outgoing model. It’s more robust, more efficient, promises more off-road capability and has a chassis agile enough to satisfy most drivers.

Overall, the new RAV4 Hybrid is a pretty good family sized SUV and makes a worthy and compelling case for itself.

2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

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Posted by on December 15, 2019 in Driven


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NEWS ➤ Morgan ends steel chassis in 2020

Morgan CX-Generation chassis

The Morgan Motor Company is to continue its technology drive with the launch of new models based on its recently introduced CX-Generation aluminium platform.

A raft of new car introductions will take place in 2020 and form a core range of models for the British manufacturer.

It follows the success of the first car to use this platform, the new Morgan Plus Six, launched at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2019. The British hand-built car maker has received an overwhelmingly positive reaction to the Plus Six model from both the press and customers, in large part thanks to its CX-Gen platform.

Morgan CX-Generation chassis

Designed in house by Morgan, the CX-Gen platform is twice as rigid as the previous aluminium chassis used by the company, which underpinned the Aero 8 and second-generation Plus 8 models. Thanks to a focus on reducing weight, the chassis tips the scales at just 97kg, contributing to the Plus Six’s mere 1,075kg dry weight.

Although full details of the new aluminium platform models are yet to be shared, the company can confirm that the range will feature a variant with a manual gearbox, as well as an engine with a smaller capacity than the 3.0-litre turbocharged inline six-cylinder unit used in the Plus Six.

Morgan CX-Generation chassis

The introduction of the CX-platform-based Plus Six marks the end of production for Morgan’s legendary traditional steel chassis. Introduced in 1936 in Morgan’s first four-wheeled vehicle, the 4-4, the steel chassis has played a hugely important role in the company’s history, underpinning its models for 83 years. A variation of the chassis continues to be found today, in the Morgan 4/4, Plus 4 and V6 Roadster.

More information on the model range, launch dates and celebration plans for the end of the traditional steel chassis will be made in 2020 – WG.

Morgan CX-Generation chassis

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Posted by on December 13, 2019 in News


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NEWS ➤ Toyota GR-4 Yaris to debut January

2020 Toyota GR-4 Yaris

The all-wheel drive Toyota GR-4 Yaris, an all-new, rally-inspired sports car, will make its world debut at the Tokyo Auto Salon on January 10th.

Plucked straight out of the World Rally Championships (WRC), the GR-4 Yaris has been slightly de-hooned to make it road legal, but still benefits from advanced technologies, knowledge and experienced acquired in the WRC under the Toyota Gazoo Racing (TGR) banner.

It will be the second pure sports car to be launched globally by TGR, following the return of the legendary Toyota GR Supra. The ‘4’ in the name denotes all-wheel drive.

For the Japanese market, an AWD version of the Yaris is already offered. It has a more sophisticated multi-link suspension than the front-wheel-drive European model. The teaser video above confirms the new model will have four-wheel drive; footage of a full-throttle launch showed all four wheels gripping the surface.

The GR-4 Yaris has completed its final development stage and a prototype was recently pushed to the limits by Akio Toyoda, Toyota’s global president, under his TGR Master Driver codename ‘Morizo’ (how cool is THAT?).

2020 Toyota GR-4 Yaris

In 2017, TGR returned to the FIA World Rally Championship with the Yaris WRC, going on to post five victories and secured the manufacturers’ title the following year. Its success has continued in 2019, with the team claiming both the drivers’ and co-drivers’ championships.

Further details of the new Toyota GR-4 Yaris will be announced in due course.

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Posted by on December 12, 2019 in News


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NEWS ➤ Range Rover Velar Black edition

2020 Range Rover Velar Black edition

Land Rover UK has announced availability of a Range Rover Velar R-Dynamic Black edition, with only 500 units entering production and all for the UK.

Based on the popular Range Rover Velar D180 R-Dynamic SE, the limited Black edition features a ‘Black Exterior Pack’, privacy glass, panoramic roof, 21-inch gloss black alloys, heated steering wheel metallic paint and adaptive dynamics as standard. The special edition adds £4,885 worth of options for £1,125.

2020 Range Rover Velar Black edition

Two metallic exterior colour finishes are available to choose from; Santorini Black and Eiger Grey, while for the interior there is ebony grained leather furniture and black headlining.

The range-entry D180 diesel engine is the only engine available. It’s a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine with 178hp and comes with a ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive as standard.

2020 Range Rover Velar Black edition

Acceleration from 0-62mph takes 8.9 seconds, the car’s top speed is 120mph and up to 42mpg is possible. It’s a shame that the R-Dynamic Black isn’t available with the more powerful 237hp D240 engine, which knocks the 0-62mph time down to 7.4 seconds while still returning 41.1mpg.

Pricing for the Range Rover Velar R-Dynamic Black starts at £56,995 and is available to order now with first deliveries expected in early 2020 – WG.

2020 Range Rover Velar Black edition

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Posted by on December 11, 2019 in News


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NEWS ➤ Euro NCAP’s latest results

Tesla Model X

Last week, Euro NCAP released its latest round of crash-test results after a dozen vehicles were put to the test.

The Tesla Model X, Porsche Taycan, Audi Q7, Renault Captur, Subaru Forester, Skoda Octavia, Ford Mondeo and Ford Kuga all achieve the coveted five-star rating.

2020 Skoda Octavia

The all-new Peugeot 2008 was tested both with the optional safety pack and with standard safety equipment achieving five and four stars, respectively. The updated Volkswagen Sharan and twin sister SEAT Alhambra get a creditable four stars, while the facelifted Jeep Renegade claims only three.

Porsche Taycan

The stand-out performer of this round is undoubtedly Tesla’s Model X, scoring 94% for Safety Assist, the same percentage as its smaller Model 3 sibling scored earlier this year. This makes the two Teslas the best performers in this part of the assessment against Euro NCAP’s most recent protocols.  The recently-updated Model X also achieved an impressive 98% for adult occupant protection, making it strong contender for Best in Class this year.

2020 Peugeot 2008

 Another eye-catcher of this round is the Taycan, Porsche’s first battery electric vehicle (BEV), set to rival to the Tesla Model S and Jaguar I-PACE in the BEV saloon segment. While the Taycan is all about high-performance electric driving and primarily targets the premium end of the consumer market, it is reassuring that the car achieved the full five stars in safety testing.

2020 Subaru Forester

The Skoda Octavia, Renault Captur, the Ford Kuga and Audi Q7 all performed well in different size categories. The all-new Peugeot 2008 shares the same platform with other models of the PSA Group, such as the second generation DS 3 Crossback and the Vauxhall Corsa.

Like the DS 3, the Peugeot 2008 offers an optional ‘Safety Plus’ pack on all variants, that adds a radar sensor alongside the standard camera and gives the car enhanced AEB capabilities. Subaru’s new Forester also performed well all-round, showing off its family car credentials by scoring particularly well in child occupant protection. The Forester completes an all five-star model line-up for the Japanese manufacturer.

Ford Puma

The Volkswagen Sharan and its SEAT twin, the Alhambra, have been around for several years, but the VW Group has done a fine job in keeping them up-to-date in terms of safety, with the addition of autonomous emergency braking and rear seatbelt load-limiters. The outcome is a still-competitive four-star rating, and the cars are amongst the few to offer i-Size compatibility in all rear seats and integrated child restraints as an option in the second row. This continues to make them ideal transport for a growing family.

The venerable Ford Mondeo has also been updated with AEB, and rear pre-tensioners and load-limiters, and offers safety to rival many newer vehicles.

Jeep Renegade

However, on the recently facelifted Jeep Renegade, AEB is not standard and oddly remains on the options list. As a result, it becomes the only car so far this year to achieve a rating of less than four stars.


Michiel van Ratingen, Euro NCAP’s Secretary General:

“Well done to Tesla and the other 5 stars performers for not only bringing best in class performance in testing but also making safety systems accessible and standard across the European market. It is also good to see manufacturers – Ford and Volkswagen in this case – standardising AEB and keeping safety up-to-date even for older cars, to the benefit of their customers.

It’s a pity that not everyone follows this example and, by prioritising looks over substance, Jeep ended up at the bottom of the list of this year’s rated cars. Fortunately, consumers face a greater choice than ever to find a safer alternative.”

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Posted by on December 10, 2019 in News


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NEWS ➤ 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Commercial Reflex Plus

Mitsubishi Motors in the UK has expanded its plug-in hybrid commercial vehicle range with the addition of a new, high-specification Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Reflex Plus Commercial.

Based on the already well-equipped Outlander PHEV Commercial Reflex, the ‘Plus’ adds 18-inch alloy wheels, an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system with smartphone connectivity, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and a reversing camera.

2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Commercial Reflex Plus

All Outlander PHEV Commercial vehicles are equipped with advanced four-wheel-drive, a rear spoiler, automatic headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, heated front seats, DAB radio, keyless operation and dual-zone climate control (which can be programmed to warm or cool the van in advance of a journey) and a full load bay bulkhead. It also offers a flat load area measuring 1.65m x 1m with a maximum payload of 500kg.

2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Commercial Reflex Plus

Being classed as an Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV) means the ‘Plus’ is eligible for the UK government’s plug-in van grant, so businesses benefit from a saving of £7,905.16 resulting in an on-the-road CV price of just £25,131.33. The entry-level Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Commercial Reflex is priced from £24,298 on the road.

Thanks to its low emissions (NEDC 40g/km, WLTP 46g/km) the Outlander PHEV is also permitted to make deliveries in ULEV zones while also offering the ability to cover longer distances non-stop when required (406 miles total range, 139.7mpg WLTP) – WG.

2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Commercial Reflex Plus

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Posted by on December 6, 2019 in News


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