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New BMW five Series M Sport 2017 assessment

To say the 5 Series is an critical auto for BMW would be underdoing it slightly. Now in its 45th year of production it is still the German brand’s global best-seller, and this all-new seventh-generation model is the most sophisticated however. 

BMW has spent over four years and driven more than three million miles in development vehicles fine-tuning every single last detail. An early drive in the 263bhp 530d proved BMW’s meticulous focus to detail had paid off, but the version we have right here, although, is the model that will be filling corporate automobile parks up and down the nation: the 188bhp 520d M Sport. 

1 of the important motives is down to the leisurely price that it sips fuel it can hit -62mph in 7.5 seconds (Mazda MX-5 pace) but return a claimed 68.1mpg. Far more importantly that translates as 108g/km of CO2 and a 21 per cent BIK rating – better than any rival.

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As an M Sport (generating up more than half over 5 Series sales in the UK) it’s also laden with kit and cutting edge tech. Specialist navigation, LED headlamps, leather upholstery, digital instrument cluster, 18-inch alloys, a 10.25-inch touchscreen display and an eight-speed automatic transmission all come as normal.

If you’d like a few further gadgets the £1,495 Technology Pack will be worth looking at. It adds in a digital key fob, wireless charging and Bluetooth, a head-up display, gesture control and a Wi-Fi hotspot. 

The style and execution of the cabin is also 1st price – you undoubtedly wouldn’t feel out of spot if you are stepping down from a 7 Series. A Mercedes E-Class does look a little much more elegant inside, but BMW’s iDrive system is the slicker and much more intuitive infotainment program to operate. 

The 188bhp two.-litre diesel beneath the bonnet isn’t anything new, but at idle its barely audible from the inside. Any sort of vibrations via the controls have been fully isolated, whilst the variety of adjustment in the seat and steering wheel make it extremely straightforward to get comfy swiftly.

On the move the engine continues to raise a lot more than a whisper at cruising speeds – only when you extend the engine beyond three,500rpm does it get a small a lot more vocal. Nonetheless, rarely do you have to venture that far up the rev variety due to all 400Nm of torque being on offer you at 1,750rpm. Progress is created all the much more calm and serene thanks to the brilliant eight-speed auto which glides its way via the ratios.

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BMW might be famed for its ‘ultimate driving machine’ mantra but in the five Series it is the quality of the ride that rapidly grabs your focus. BMW’s Variable Damper Manage (a £985 option) serves up comfort, sport and adaptive modes, but in all the ride remains supple and forgiving.

That doesn’t seem to have come at the expense of entertainment behind the wheel, even so. The steering is not brimming with feedback, but its quickly and offers the 5 Series an improved sense of agility. The new chassis allows fast alterations in path to be executed with self-confidence and precision, as well. There’s an overriding sense of composure and accuracy to the way the 5 Series covers ground which you don’t get in other big saloons. 

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New Peugeot Traveller 2016 assessment

Seven-seater men and women carriers are all very effectively, but for individuals with bigger families practically nothing can beat the outright carrying capacity of a van. The Peugeot Traveller is the MPV version of the new Peugeot Expert van, and it will carry eight complete-sized adults with area to spare. It has two sister models in the form of the Toyota Proace Verso and the Citroen SpaceTourer, but Peugeot is aiming the Traveller at purchasers who want a little much more luxury from their people-movers. 

Our common-wheelbase model had ample space for six-foot passengers in all 3 rows. It also offered a hefty 640-litre boot space even with all seats in position but that space is very tall and shallow so it is not really as sensible as the numbers suggest. Removing the bulky seats is no small operation, but if you handle to heave them out you will be rewarded with a capacity of 3,200 litres of space up to the window line. That’s actually (and unsurprisingly) van-like.

Even entry-level Active trim gets plenty of goodies like dual-zone climate handle, cruise control, automatic lights and wipers, and a slick 7-inch infotainment system supplying Bluetooth and DAB connectivity. Our Allure model added to this with electric and heated front seats, a panoramic glass roof, a heads-up display, xenon headlights and keyless entry. Sat-nav is a £240 option, but Allure models do get leather trim to add to the luxury really feel. The interior is nicely created and trimmed in relatively high-finish materials, but the Traveller can’t match the Volkswagen Caravelle for interior top quality.

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On the move is where the case for a more auto-like individuals carrier starts to make sense. Even though there’s plenty of adjustment in the seat and steering wheel, the driving position is resolutely upright and will not suit drivers with extremely extended legs. The cavernous interior amplifies road and wind noise, producing for a fairly noisy ride, even though it’s comfortable even without having a load in the rear. 

Overall performance from the 148bhp 2.-litre diesel isn’t sparkling, but it is got powerful in-gear pace – it’s just a shame the six-speed gearbox has such a loose, baggy action. The Traveller is effortless to drive, even though, with excellent all-round visibility courtesy of that high-set driving position. It feels smaller sized on the road than its size also, and it handles tidily enough.

Unlike the Toyota Proace Verso and the Citroen SpaceTourer, Peugeot will not be providing the Traveller in a much more standard trim level, so list prices look a small higher subsequent to those vans. There isn’t a nine-seater version on supply, either. Look at it next to the Volkswagen Caravelle and things commence to stack up a tiny greater though. To nab a comparably equipped VW you’d be spending well in excess of £40,000 – generating the Peugeot’s £36,985 look decent worth.

But if you don’t need to have the further seat, you can appear in the other direction. A best-spec Citroen Grand C4 Picasso still delivers space for seven, a comfy ride and efficient engines – plus far superior refinement and dynamics – for below £30,000.

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Mercedes-AMG E43 4MATIC 2016 assessment

The new Mercedes E-Class has impressed us a lot considering that it launched earlier this year, and the recently-added Estate version delivers an added dose of practicality into the variety. Apart from the Mercedes-AMG E63, which arrives subsequent year, the E-Class range hasn’t actually had a sporty prime-spec vehicle like the Audi S6 or Jaguar XF S. That’s all changed with the E43 version, however.

This auto gets a tuned-up version of the turbocharged three.-litre V6 we’ve currently attempted in the smaller C43, with the 396bhp output getting 34bhp up on that model. The torque figure is unchanged, although, at 520Nm. It indicates the E43 is really 1 tenth of a second quicker from -62mph than the C43 saloon at four.six seconds.

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That areas it among the Jaguar XF S (five.three seconds) and Audi S6 (4.four seconds), even though the latter does have a 4.-litre V8 under the bonnet. All 3 are priced about the £55,000 mark – making them close rivals. The Jaguar is rear-wheel drive, nonetheless, so the 4×4 systems in the Audi and Mercedes give them an off-the-line advantage.

The Mercedes E43 feels fast in the genuine world: the V6 engine is very versatile, providing you plenty of performance in any gear. It’s at its very best even though kept to low revs, using the torque and enjoying a pleasant growl. If you rev the engine tougher functionality is exceptional but it is not the most thrilling engine soundtrack, with a fake-sounding noise in the cabin which is louder than in the C43.

Joining the engine to the four-wheel drive method is a version of the 9-speed automatic gearbox located in all E-Class models, which shifts faster than in the normal versions. It is an exceptional unit day-to-day, with smooth, virtually imperceptible shifts most of the time. Put it in manual mode and you will discover oneself quick-shifting, even though, as when you shift on the red line there’s a enormous lurch. At least the E43 handles all types of driving properly enough in auto mode.

As you’d anticipate, the 4-wheel drive method indicates there’s a large amount of grip offered, providing you loads of confidence to drive the E43 rapidly. It does feel huge, but there’s enough steering feel to spot the car on the road without having too considerably fretting. The wheel is a little light in Comfort mode, but in Sport and Sport+ modes (changed making use of a dial on the centre console) it weights up nicely.

Although we’ve not tried it in the UK but, the E43 rides nicely in Comfort mode and stiffens up enough to keep physique roll in check in the Sport modes, which offers the automobile an added degree of all-round appeal.

There’s also an Estate version, which for several will be even more appealing: a 640-litre boot (100 litre much more than the saloon, and 1,820 litres with the seats down), 4-wheel drive and all the efficiency you could need to have all come collectively in a single package. It’s a tenth slower to 62mph than the saloon, but feels virtually identical from behind the wheel, if a little noisier inside more than rough surfaces.

The E43 Estate manages 32.5mpg on the combined cycle with the saloon performing a little greater at 36mpg. The saloon’s figures beat the Audi S6 saloon’s 30.7mpg whilst the Jaguar XF S saloon only manages 34mpg from its own supercharged petrol V6.

All of these cars offer a wonderful balance of ability, but the E43 marks itself out due to the fact it is based on the E-Class, which is our favourite executive automobile. The higher-top quality interior is a highlight, with the twin 12.three-inch show screens and spacious seating truly impressing. Tech such as Mercedes’ self-driving technique, Drive Pilot, becoming offered is a huge plus as properly.

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New Hyundai i30 prototype assessment

Regardless of the on-going rise and rise of the crossover SUV, household hatchbacks remain huge company. The new Vauxhall Astra gained 5 stars in our very first road test verdict final year, while cars like the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus continue to impress several years after release. The stress is on Hyundai to provide a credible competitor in its most recent i30, then…

Lengthy regarded a capable if slightly mundane option to mainstream models, the second-generation i30 has been on sale because 2012. The new auto will be revealed in complete subsequent week, but just before the wraps came off we had been given the chance to attempt an early pre-production prototype on the roads about the Hyundai’s European Technical Centre near Frankfurt, Germany.

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Sat next to senior engineer for suspension and steering Felix Fortenbacher, we’re permitted special insight into the new i30’s rigorous testing and development programme. Prior to we even turn the wheel it is clear this new Hyundai will execute like no model that has gone before it.

The 2017 Hyundai i30 has been created from the ground up with European buyers in thoughts. There’s a completely reworked chassis that bosses say has been extensively tested on road and track – as effectively as in the laboratory – to cover every real-planet eventuality. Numerous of these miles have taken spot at Hyundai’s Nurburgring test facility, where the brand has had a base since 2013. 

The fearsome Nurburgring has a justified reputation as the most gruelling circuit in the race circuit planet, with the numerous corners and crests, and unforgiving elevations offering what no road route across the globe can match. Hyundai claims to have completed far more than 480 laps in its new i30, which it says is the customer equivalent of 150,000km (93,205 miles) in each day motoring. 

In addition to this, engineers have completed 160,000km (99,419 miles) on true roads, comprising a mix of town, nation and motorway. Sweden is property to cold climate testing, whilst southern Spain hosts Hyundai’s hot weather evaluation. The new hatchback has even undergone trailer testing in the Alps. 

Our vehicle uses a 138bhp 1.four-litre turbo petrol engine. It is an all-new unit, and will be joined by two additional petrols – including an eco-friendly 3-cylinder 1.-litre – and a single diesel at launch. The 1.4 is whisper quiet, with no shakes or rattles at idle, while around town it basically fades into the background. The seven-speed dual clutch gearbox is a worthy companion if you commit a lot of time in quit-start traffic, as well.

Fortenbacher is keen to emphasise that this is a extremely early prototype, and that anything we see, really feel or hear isn’t necessarily representative of the final automobile, which is due on sale prior to the end of the year.

“You’re driving a prototype,” he said. “So it can not be as refined as the production car.” 

Which is funny, due to the fact even covered in bags and masking tape, this new i30 is remarkably quiet. We’ll have to wait and see what it is like with the more familiar 1.6-litre CRDi diesel engine, but 1st impressions are excellent.

What Fortenbacher did say, however, is that the suspension and steering need to translate to the production auto largely unchanged.

“The simple character of the suspension should be kept,” he told us. “There will be little changes, but nothing at all dramatic. We actually tried to uncover a excellent compromise – moving slightly into the agile path, but maintaining the comfort too.”

He’s appropriate. The new i30 feels much sportier than the outgoing car, with effectively-weighted steering and really tiny roll in the corners. Our drive was on a sodden August afternoon – but even in damp conditions grip seemed great, rivalling the greatest in class for body manage. 

Hyundai has ditched the current car’s 3 steering modes, in favour of just two this time around. We tested each Typical and Sport mode – and while the latter seems ever so slightly heavier, Fortenbacher insists the variations will become clear when we drive the new and current automobiles back-to-back.

The high-speed ride is impressive, as well. Granted, our run took location mostly on ultra-smooth German autobahn, but the multi-link rear axis and new geometry make it a seriously competent extended-distance cruiser. It’s a small bit fidgety on slower roads, but that is the compromise you must make when attempting to locate a balance among agility and comfort. It is definitely no worse than a SEAT Leon in this respect. 

Whilst we were welcomed to impart opinion on the way the automobile drives, our thoughts on styling and interior high quality will have to wait until the automobile is unveiled in complete. The exterior was covered in camouflage and plastic bags, while the cabin came bathed in fabric wraps.

With only the dials and gearlever showing, it was simply not possible to garner any worthwhile views on fit and finish. Factors are expected to boost more than the outgoing vehicle, however, which was often criticised for its challenging surfaces and scratchy plastics. It is not clear whether entry-level cars will get a touchscreen show, but larger-spec models are likely to function sat-nav, DAB and Bluetooth as standard. Familiar S, SE and Premium specs are probably to stay, with an N-branded flagship due later.

We also took a seat in the back, where it felt accommodating but a small brief on headroom. The heavy disguise did make the cabin really feel a bit dark, whilst the elasticated camouflage stretching across the rear seats prevented us from receiving actually comfortable. Kneeroom was very good, but a Skoda Octavia will trump it for outright space.

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New Kia Niro 2016 assessment

The Kia Niro is part of a program for the Korean brand to triple its line-up of ‘green’ models by 2020. It’s a dedicated hybrid SUV, though Kia calls it an HUV (hybrid utility vehicle), and rather than rivalling vehicles like the Toyota RAV4 hybrid, it’s much more of a competitor for the Toyota Prius thanks to an expected price tag tag of around £22,000 and the smaller sized body size.

The Niro is about the same price tag as the Prius but it retains the desirable looks and practicality of an SUV. While it is not a full-on off-roader, the body cladding, upright shape and chunky style cues give it a pleasingly challenging crossover appear. The styling is not specifically thrilling but it is smart enough, especially sitting on Kia’s neat alloy wheels. In terms of size, at four.4m extended it’s larger than a Kia Cee’d, but smaller sized than the Kia Sportage.

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The hybrid method in the Niro makes use of an effective 1.six-litre petrol engine with 102bhp mated to a 42bhp electric motor, with power going via a six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. That implies there’s no CVT (continuously variable transmission), which is typically criticised in other hybrid automobiles for taking enjoyment from the driver as effectively as creating a lot of noise when accelerating.

The DCT automatic in the Niro is absolutely an improvement more than CVT systems, and it alterations gear smoothly sufficient. You can place it into manual mode as effectively, and change between ratios utilizing the shifter on the centre console. Nonetheless, the long gearing and low-powered engine mean receiving up to speed can be a bit noisy, as you are forced to perform the engine challenging to choose up speed.

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The engine doesn’t sound unpleasant and the electric motor contributes to a total torque output of 265Nm, so it’s nippy in town and easy sufficient to hold up with visitors. It feels fairly lively off of the line, but as soon as you get up to speed the Niro’s efficiency is only sufficient, especially as the gearbox is relatively slow to modify down when you put your foot down. It’s hardly thrilling to drive, but apart from motorway overtaking it will be good adequate for most.

At low speed the Niro is quite quiet, nevertheless, and on the motorway the wind and road noise is kept to a minimum. It all adds to the car’s relaxed character, with the electric motor functioning on its own at slower speeds to make driving in town significantly far more comfortable.

The ride felt smooth on the German roads where we attempted the vehicle, and the seats are supportive and comfortable, too. The steering wheel has adjustment for reach and rake, so most men and women must be capable to get settled in the driver’s seat.

It is ideal to stick to smoother driving in the Niro, as it doesn’t really feel especially at property when pushed a bit harder. The steering is light and lacks really feel, and the eco tyres aren’t especially grippy – but it would be harsh to criticise the Niro as well considerably for these failings. It is focused on low running charges and a comfortable driving expertise, so there are bound to be compromises.

The Niro can travel up to 3 miles on electric energy alone, which does not sound like a lot – but it is comparable with other hybrids such as the Prius and the Kia can in fact manage 70mph just employing the electric motor. In standard driving the switch in between the engine and the motor is seamless, so you won’t thoughts when the petrol unit starts up once more.

Fuel economy is decent, if not fairly as very good as the Toyota. Even though the Prius manages 94mpg, the Kia’s 74.3mpg is still a strong figure and emissions of 88g/km (with 16-inch wheels fitted), combined with the lack of a diesel engine, will save company vehicle buyers some cash. However be wary of the model with 18-inch wheels, as it emits a disappointing 101g/km.

There’s some clever tech on board to aid save fuel as well, which includes a Predictive Energy Manage technique that can use navigation data to optimise the hybrid system. Preparing it for going up or down a steep hill, for instance. The Niro has a drag co-efficient of .29 and there’s no conventional battery in the auto either. This aids save weight, as do the lighter seats and chassis components.

Inside you’ll locate a lot of kit, including a 7-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The show is capacitive like your smartphone, but do not anticipate the identical quality finish – the touchscreen is clearly constructed to survive heavy use and so does not feel as slick as a phone’s does. The interface is simple sufficient to use, although, and the sat-nav show is clear.

Heated and cooled seats support keep the cabin comfy, and there’s even a heated steering wheel – though the mass of buttons on the wheel for all the other functions means controlling the car’s systems will take some obtaining utilized to. Interior top quality is great, and even though there are some scratchy plastic surfaces, most of the touch points have a premium feel. The dials behind the wheel have a futuristic look as effectively, and the climate control buttons on the dash appear smart.

The Niro really has a longer wheelbase than the Kia Sportage SUV, which means rear legroom is very good: there’s simply sufficient space for two adults in the back, even with a tall driver and front-seat passenger. It is fairly narrow although, so sitting 3 back there may well be a squeeze. There’s loads of headroom in the back, too.

Boot space of 427 litres isn’t as well poor, but it is smaller than the Prius’ 502-litre space. Open up the tailgate and the news is far better, however: there’s only a modest loading lip, and the seats fold down flat in a 60:40 configuration.

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Mercedes GLE 350d 2016 assessment

Handful of automobile makers know how to make cash from SUVs as well as Mercedes does. The German giant has been selling a variety of fashionable models for years, and – as the recent New York Motor Show demonstrated – it’s working tough on filling the newest niche of them all the coupe-SUV. We saw the GLC Coupe in the States, and drove the sleek GLE Coupe late last year, but now we’ve been given the keys to its much more practical sibling.

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Calling the automobile ‘new’ is stretching it a bit, though. It wears a badge that subscribes to Mercedes’ new naming structure, but also one particular that aligns it with the E-Class household. Essentially, however, the GLE is a heavy refresh of the ML-Class – the brand’s first suitable exploration into the world of SUVs.

As with any refresh, the styling has had some cosmetic surgery. At the front, there’s a far more curvaceous look, with swept-back headlights, a bigger and much more imposing grille, new bumpers with bigger vents and a more rounded bonnet. Along the sides it’s enterprise as usual (save for some fresh wheel designs), even though the back has far more modern day-seeking lights and a new bumper.

The distinctive C-pillar, with windows that wrap about the rear end, is left more than from the old ML, although. Clearly Mercedes deemed it was a classy design feature that had to stay, regardless of the car’s new name.

On the inside, there are even fewer variations a highlight is the addition of Mercedes’ tablet infotainment screen nestled amongst the air vents. It’s linked to a rotary controller and smartphone-like touchpad on the centre console, bringing the GLE in line with rest of the variety. It controls Mercedes’ COMAND method, but it isn’t very as straightforward or intuitive to use as BMW’s brilliant iDrive method.

The engine variety has been tweaked, too, and there’s a decision of petrols and diesels, plus a plug-in GLE 500e hybrid. But, in reality, it’s the diesels that’ll interest most – and the six-cylinder three.-litre V6 350d is our leading pick. With 258bhp and 620Nm, it’s punchy, smooth and a very good deal much more attractive to drive than the 4-cylinder diesel in the entry-level 201bhp 250d.

Whichever diesel you go for, you’ll get a new nine-speed automatic gearbox, which means modifications are rapidly and slick. Mercedes claims an typical of 42.8mpg, and whilst its 179g/km of CO2 sounds fine in isolation, BMW’s X5 xDrive30d emits only 156g/km. That equates to two lower road tax bands and an annual saving of £45 on VED, not to mention the cash you’ll save if you run one particular as a organization car.

Exactly where the GLE actually is beginning to really feel its age, even though, is in the way it drives. The GLE’s closest rival, the X5, manages to combine enjoyable, involving handling, although also coping with some light off-road terrain. The GLE has an impressive variety of off-road modes and appears difficult when tackling mud and rocks, but back on the tarmac it feels a bit old. The steering is numb and the physique sways around on country roads. And although our AMG Line has standard-match air-suspension, the GLE nevertheless fidgets around and crashes into huge potholes and massive bumps.

For some, the reality that the GLE feels a tiny old will not matter. Even though the dashboard’s design and style is a bit conservative compared to Mercedes’ newer cars, it is nicely created and all models have a strong kit list. Entry-level Sport variants, for instance, get LED headlights, a parking camera and sat-nav, although far more desirable AMG Line automobiles add 20-inch wheels, a more aggressive body kit and heated sports seats.

It is roomy up front, and in the back there’s space for 3 adults. The boot is usefully massive – it’s noticeably far more spacious than a BMW X5’s – but there’s no seven-seat option. 

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Volkswagen Passat BlueMotion 2016 assessment

Volkswagen might be promising a raft of fancy new hybrid and electric models in the future, but diesels stay big organization regardless of the recent Dieselgate scandal. The brand provides petrol versions of the fuel-sipping Polo and Golf, yet the Passat BlueMotion is diesel-only – and we’ve driven it in the UK for the first time.

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Even though you will see BlueMotion badges on a lot of of VW’s diesels – signifying the use of high-efficiency tech – this model has the full range of eco tweaks. From the outdoors, you will spot a blanked-off front grille and revised rear bumper, as well as a a lot more aerodynamic 17-inch alloy wheel design. The auto rides 15mm lower on sports suspension to minimize drag, even though shutters in front of the radiator direct air around the nose.

The impact on the exterior design and style is subtle, so the Passat is nonetheless a classy-searching household saloon. But the effect on efficiency is far higher, with VW claiming an economy jump from 70.6mpg on the typical 1.6-litre TDI to 76.3mpg on this model. CO2 emissions fall from 105g/km to 95g/km, too. That’s a huge improvement, but it’s worth remembering the BlueMotion costs £880 a lot more to buy than the S version on which it’s based.

Company car buyers do profit, nonetheless, as the Benefit in Type tax price falls from 19 to 17 per cent and road tax is totally free as a result. It is just a shame that the Passat can not fairly pip the Ford Mondeo 1.6 TDCi ECOnetic’s figures of 78.5mpg and 94g/km. Still, soon after a mixture of town and motorway driving, we have been easily capable to nudge 60mpg on our test.

Fortunately, there’s no evidence of the Passat’s efficiency drive inside. It’s as strong and upmarket as ever, with classy chrome trim and high quality to match automobiles from the class above. The layout is sensible however fashionable, with effortless-to-use buttons and an intuitive touchscreen. It’s a shame the six.5-inch display’s graphics are a tiny standard, while sat-nav is portion of a £675 selection pack that brings VW’s ‘Guide and Inform’ on the internet site visitors and news service.

An eight-inch touchscreen is also on the possibilities list, which looks much more in keeping with the Passat’s premium really feel. Space is superb, even though, with a lot of head and legroom for 4 adults and a well shaped 586-litre boot. The Skoda Superb is roomier nevertheless, nonetheless, and offered it’s cheaper to purchase, it could be a better option for some.

Purchasers will be satisfied to understand that there’s no performance penalty in opting for the BlueMotion model. In reality, the top speed increases by 1mph to 130mph thanks to the better high-speed aero. The 118bhp 1.six TDI is reasonably versatile, and is content getting revved to get the very best out of it. Even so, regardless of the slick six-speed manual shift, it is not the quietest unit when stretched, and can sound strained. Keen drivers will lust right after the a lot more urgent 2. TDI. That engine also claims a respectable 68.9mpg. 

The BlueMotion retains the regular car’s unflustered composure in corners, aided by the sports suspension, which reduces body roll. It’s not particularly entertaining, even though it feels more agile than the Mondeo. Wind and road noise are kept to a minimum, but the 1.6-litre diesel’s note is far more noticeable.

Nevertheless, the VW’s suspension is impacted by the BlueMotion tweaks, and even though it’s far from uncomfortable and much less of a dilemma the faster you go, it requires on a slightly firmer edge about town – picking out bumps and potholes in the road.

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The Passat is designed to commit most of its life pounding motorways rather than crawling by means of town centres, but it is the only real compromise BlueMotion spec demands over the normal model.

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New BMW X5 hybrid assessment

Fitting an SUV with a plug-in petrol-electric drivetrain makes best sense. The raised ride height and bulky physique offer you lots of space for the cumbersome batteries, and the currently heavy kerbweight masks the unfavorable effects that the further bulk of the complex hybrid powertrain can have.

Mitsubishi was the trailblazer, and has seen enormous achievement with the Outlander PHEV. Because then, Porsche, Volvo, and Audi have all electrified their SUVs, with countless consumers benefitting from massive government subsidies for plug-in and all-electric cars.

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Now, although, BMW has fitted a effective 111bhp electric motor to its 2.-litre 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine and dumped it in the X5 SUV. Total output is a wholesome 309bhp – but with an additional 235kg to haul around, it was going to need to have some further grunt.

On paper, the X5 xDrive40e covers the benchmark -62mph sprint in specifically the identical time as the decidedly much less-potent 254bhp xDrive30d. Official figures recommend the hybrid is nearly twice as frugal, although (83.1mpg vs 47.1mpg) while CO2 emissions dip from 158g/km to just 78g/km.

Nevertheless, like all plug-in hybrids, you will want standard access to a charge point to realise these figures on the road. In our hands, the 19-mile EV variety ran down rather quickly, and left us averaging closer to 30mpg after the batteries had gone flat.

What’s more, the seemingly impressive CO2 emissions are actually not that remarkable when you examine them with Volvo’s 49g/km T8 Twin Engine Hybrid. That vehicle will trump the BMW’s electric-only range, also, claiming 25 miles from a complete charge.

Like numerous hybrids, the X5 xDrive40e offers you a decision of modes to assist regulate battery use. Auto eDrive makes use of the electric motor as significantly as possible, although the Save Battery function permits drivers to preserve the car’s EV power in reserve for emission-cost-free town driving later in their journey. These are in addition to the X5’s usual EcoPro, Comfort, Sport and Sport+ functions, which alter the throttle response, damper and steering settings, as nicely as the automatic gearbox’s shift pattern.

Immediate torque from the electric motor ensures swift progress off the line, but things feel strained when the engine kicks in – leaving you longing for the grunt from BMW’s brilliant six-cylinder diesel. The gearbox isn’t often confident which cog to grab, either, and the steering does not really feel as direct as it does on the smaller sized but similarly powered 330e saloon. Grip from the rapid-thinking xDrive method is exemplary, but the ride is not as compliant as the properly-damped diesel – feeling firmer about town and far more susceptible to motorway expansion joints and massive potholes.

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And that is this car’s largest problem. As a standalone SUV, the xDrive40e is extremely nicely mannered, but when you know how very good the X5 can be provided a punchy yet frugal diesel engine, it leaves you feeling somewhat quick-changed. That mentioned, an capacity to travel via the city in total silence is hugely appealing, and the rock-bottom Advantage in Sort (BiK) tax band will swing it for numerous business vehicle drivers.

In reality, though, if your commute requires standard motorway jaunts the diesel is far better suited feeling smooth, quickly and easier to reside with. The diesel’s progressive energy delivery is less difficult to predict, whereas the plug-in’s indecision to use petrol energy, electric energy or each can make for jolted progress at greater speeds. You can’t fault refinement though, with wind noise properly suppressed, and only a tiny amount of road noise from the wide-section front and rear tyres.

Of course, both the PHEV and the diesel come well-equipped. The £56,705 list value tends to make the X5 xDrive40e M Sport £2,445 far more pricey than the equivalent 3.-litre diesel, broadly matching it spec-for-spec. It’s suitably luxurious, as well, and genuinely doesn’t really feel two years older than either the XC90 or Audi Q7.

Even so, even though you get full-leather, 19-inch wheels and Specialist Nav on both the 40e and 30d, if you opt for the hybrid, you’ll have to make do with five seats rather than seven. 

Due to the bulky batteries, BMW’s engineers have had to forgo the additional boot-mounted seats, thereby shrinking the offered load region from 650 litres to just 500 litres. That is not to say they’ve transformed it from a large SUV into an X3-rivalling mid-size crossover – the 40e nonetheless feels like a large auto, with plenty of space in the rear seats for three six-foot adults.

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Ford Mustang 2.three EcoBoost 2016 assessment

Believe of a Ford Mustang, and no doubt a V8-powered model will come to mind. Ever given that the original produced its debut more than half a century ago, the legendary muscle vehicle has generally been accompanied by the deep burble of an eight-cylinder engine. There have been versions with 4 and six-cylinder engines below the bonnet in the previous, but they’ve often struggled to make an impact with purchasers.

However this hasn’t stopped Ford having another crack at downsizing, with this 2.3-litre four-cylinder EcoBoost version, which slots in below the flagship 5. GT. So do half the cylinders imply half the enjoyable? To discover out, we got behind the wheel of 1 of the first examples to hit UK roads.

Initial impressions are a tiny underwhelming, as the engine fires unobtrusively into life just before settling into an anonymous idle. Give the throttle a prod and there’s a faint whistle from the turbo, but in all other respects the automobile sounds no a lot more thrilling than a Mondeo.

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Even so, engage very first gear and you will find out the exact same precise, mechanical shift action as in the V8-powered model. And with a healthful 313bhp and a muscular 432Nm of torque, the two.three EcoBoost isn’t brief of firepower Ford claims the Mustang requirements a mere five.eight seconds to cover the sprint from -62mph and motors on to a 145mph best speed.

In reality, the 1,655kg Ford appears a tiny sluggish off the line, but once the turbo begins pumping at around 2,000rpm it accelerates smoothly and strongly, and feels practically as fast as the more strong V8. In an work to make the vehicle sound far more fascinating, an artificially generated growl is played through the speakers. Yet while this is not unpleasant, it doesn’t sound all-natural.

As with the 5.-litre GT, you can select amongst Typical, Wet/Snow, Sport+ and Track modes, with the latter two sharpening the throttle and adding weight to the steering.

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Our car wore winter tyres, so it lacked outright grip, but the steering was swift and properly weighted whilst the rear-drive handling balance added an further layer of engagement. Physique manage was very good, as well, even though the trade-off for this composure was a surprisingly stiff ride.

In all other respects, the EcoBoost is identical to the 5. GT. Apart from smaller sized 18-inch alloys it looks the same on the outdoors, even though the roomy cabin is packed with the same retro touches and array of regular kit. However, it also shares the same low cost plastics and garish chrome trim. 

Where the EcoBoost differs is in its running fees. Claimed economy is a reasonable 35.3mpg – the V8 promises a mere 20.9mpg – and CO2 emissions stand at 179g/km.

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Mercedes SL 400 2016 assessment

No car manufacturer will be as busy as Mercedes in 2016. The auto giant will launch upwards of 10 all-new or heavily revised models in the remaining nine months of the year – so although BMW and Audi may possibly be major the premium sales charts (in the UK at least), you have to suspect that may not be for long.

The facelifted SL is the first out of the blocks, and though it’s not the most important model for Mercedes – we’ll leave that accolade to the new E-Class – it’s important nonetheless. It gets updated engines, new tech and a fresh look, not to mention some severe brake horsepower.

When the entry-level SL 400 kicks off at £73,805, the two-seat roadster clearly is not going to be the staple model in Mercedes’ portfolio only 1,one hundred UK sales are targeted per year. This SL 400 is the largest seller in the variety, even though, powered by an uprated 362bhp 3.-litre twin-turbo V6 that now drives via a slick-shifting nine-speed automatic gearbox. Power is sent to the rear wheels only, and -62mph is achievable in four.9 seconds. It’d be fair to say the simple sports automobile specifications are all present and correct, then – on paper, at least.

In reality, each and every SL now gets from -62mph in less than five seconds. You can, of course, go more quickly. The range-topping 6.-litre twin-turbo V12 AMG SL 65 covers the same benchmark sprint in only 4. seconds, but costs an astonishing £173,295 – that is about £11,000 for each and every added tenth of a second. But if your time is precious…

The SL 400 serves up all the pace and performance you are ever likely to need to have, although. The addition of a new nine-speed automatic gearbox tends to make progress all the a lot more effortless with smooth and precise adjustments, and with 500Nm of torque obtainable from only two,000rpm, a jab at the throttle delivers a welcome surge of acceleration. Our test model came with optional Active Body Manage suspension. It fees a considerable £3,080, but delivers a supremely supple and relaxed ride. Hit a pothole and the SL becomes a tiny flustered, but the roadster does effectively to disguise its size.

Dial the dynamic select manage up to Sport mode and ask a little far more of the SL, and it begins to expose its weaknesses. Its comfort-biased set-up is right away evident, with light steering that feels overly elastic in Sport setting. That mentioned, the vehicle does respond faithfully to fast path changes, and will corner with a appropriate degree of precision.

The Active Physique Control system also comes with the new Curve Tilt function from Mercedes’ S-Class Coupe, leaning the vehicle into bends to preserve it flat. The SL’s physique manage feels much better with no it, although, as you can sense when the grip is loading up through corners much more naturally.

Even though the gearbox is beautifully compliant when you’re taking it simple, it isn’t the most obedient unit when you want to swap ratios yourself. It is reluctant to adjust down, and will upshift for you in manual mode when you edge closer to the rev limiter, which can result in frustrating double upshifts. If it’s driving involvement you’re searching for, the Jaguar F-Variety Convertible is possibly worth a appear.

The SL is perfectly pleased to be hustled along, but it operates far much better when you ease off a small. Roof-down, buffeting in the cabin is kept to a minimum and the smooth twin-turbo V6 emits a rich howl from the exhaust.

Taking it simple also enables you to appreciate the revamped interior, which comes trimmed leading to bottom in soft leather and brushed metals. It really is very unique.

In terms of practicality, the SL is very impressive for a two-seat roadster. There’s huge adjustability in the driving position and steering wheel, whilst the 500-litre boot is wide and deep. Even with the leading stowed, a nifty feature swings the roof upwards by 25 degrees so you can load and unload larger items more easily.

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